Finding Inertia in 2021
How’s your New Year going? That’s not supposed to be a loaded question. Yet, after a pandemic, economic downturn, and an election year with compounding social issues surrounding racial equality – it has become a complicated question, to say the least. It seems like the world has been holding its breath for the last year, myself included, waiting for some sense of normalcy to return. Somehow that arbitrary date was set as January 1, 2021. However, here we are, almost to March, still feeling stuck in the struggle of 2020.
My words for this year are inertia and purpose. Of course, I am a bit bias toward purpose, but the idea of inertia has stuck with me. Inertia is a physics term that states an object tends to remain intact. In other words, a person has the tendency to remain unchanged and unmoving, but a person in motion will continue in motion. How do you make the shift from this hunkered-down state to one of perpetual motion?
To be honest, it is a shift I am still puzzling out myself. I’ve seen a lot throughout my career – the fallout after 9/11 or the economic downturn of ’08 comes to mind. But business in the last year is different. Although it feels like I’ve seen this movie before, the pacing is off – it is too slow. I keep thinking I see plot development or resolution – but then we get another plot twist no one saw coming. I’m asking M. Night Shyamalan for my money back.
Even though it is a slower process than any of us would like, I keep going back to the same two same thoughts that have powered me in times of strife to continue towards triumph: making informed decisions and putting my people first. When I look back on my time at Blue Lock, Eleven Fifty, or even building Purpose HQ – the times I fell short was when I forgot these two ever essential ideals. So, I have to believe that the way to change our state of inertia and thrive in 2021 must lie here as well.
Making Informed Decisions
We make decisions every day, most of them without even thinking. Some would call this a gut feeling or instinct. I would say we are making the most comfortable decisions based on what we have already tried and know that works. These decisions can be small, like what to have for lunch or which sweater to put on. To even larger decisions like what are my strategic goals for the next quarter. In both instances, we take what we already know that worked in the past and assume it will work in this occurrence. But what about the unknown? What about instances when it all looks like chaos? That is what makes change so difficult in times like today. That is when making informed decisions come in.
When Googling ‘making an informed decision,’ you will find a multitude of step-by-step guides to better informed decision making. All of which boils down to three steps:
– Identify the Problem
– Collect Data and Information
– Make a Decision and Action Plan.
When we are surrounded by chaos or are in the unknown, it is crucial to focus on the second step, collecting data and information. We regularly do this every day. For example, when we pick what to have for lunch. We use trial and error. I enjoyed the tuna yesterday, but it made me ill. Today I will go with a salad. However, as business owners, especially during tumultuous periods, we do not have the luxury of trial and error. We have deadlines, and meetings, and looming payroll.
Making informed decisions requires being clear on the problem and look at it from all angles. Sometimes this comes in the form of asking a collogue with the first-hand experience or administer in-house assessments. An assessment is just a scientific shortcut to learn about your team, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Gathering enough data will help you know your starting line to plan the best path forward and make the best decision.
Putting People First
When we are looking at a mess of the unknown in times of chaos, it is easy to start pointing fingers and start playing the blame game. This project X failed because Leslie fell short, or Charlie has wasted all this time chasing client Y. As humans in times of threat, we tend to put on our blinders, which becomes the survival of the fittest. However, your people are the only thing that will get you through the chaos, and they are your most valuable asset.
Getting the best people starts with your hiring and knowing the traits and behaviors that make your team unique to your company. How many job descriptions have you read in your lifetime? How many ‘descriptions’ drone on about the role being overwhelmingly task-heavy with no mention of the traits it takes to succeed? Or even better – do your hiring managers even know what behaviors they need in the role they are filling?
Putting your people first is more than sacrifice. It is an exact alignment in your team’s strengths and who you need to bring on board for your team to succeed. If you want to learn more about Purpose HQ’s job target creation platform and how to get your first target free, click here (What’s a blog post without a bit of a shameless plug?)
They say the easiest way is through, and I agree with that as long as you have the right data and people with you. If I have learned anything over the past 15 months, it’s that the solo surfer, grin and bear it approach to business can only last so long. I believe there is an end to this movie and light at the end of the tunnel coming soon; but without a shift in our mindset, a renewed sense of purpose, and a change in inertia now – those credits will roll with our heads still in the bowl of popcorn.
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