I first created a series of “Business Facts of Life” when I wrote the book, If You Don’t Make Waves You’ll Drown. While the faint at heart complained that the performance expectations I identified as the business facts of life were too demanding and harsh for most workplaces, I disagreed and continue to contend that letting people live in a gray area and failing to stretch them with high enough standards is what is truly harsh. Following are twenty-five sample business facts of life. Perhaps there are a handful you will find useful in creating greater clarity and a higher performing culture.
Commentary: If you loved everything about your job, we’d have to turn the place into an amusement park and charge you admission for coming to work each day.
Commentary: It is the leader’s privilege and responsibility to create standards. I will not reduce my vision to accommodate your comfort zone.
Commentary: Being a top producer does not excuse you from continuing to work hard, caring for our customers, or living our values.
Commentary: Yesterday ended last night. You will not be permitted to cash royalty checks or borrow credibility from what you did once-upon-a-time.
Commentary: Frankly, if you don’t grow, you go.
Commentary: Your business will get better when you get better. Never wish it were easier, wish you were better.
Commentary: We run a meritocracy, not a welfare state.
Commentary: The person “next in line” will always be the most deserving person. We’re running a business, not the Royal Family.
Commentary: Success is more about inside decisions than outside conditions. Take responsibility for your life.
Commentary: Loyalty is more about what you put into the time than the time you put in. The most disloyal thing you can do is to stop performing.
Commentary: If you’re great, I’ll tell you. If you’re failing, I’ll tell you. If you’re ever unclear where you stand, ask me.
Commentary: Kissing up will only succeed in keeping you down.
Commentary: If you don’t invest in yourself, why should anyone else?
Commentary: Before you stand to lead, stoop to serve.
Commentary: If this has to be explained, you should leave now.
Commentary: If you’re in it only for yourself, you’re in a mighty small business.
Commentary: And you will do so without excuse and regardless of the cost.
Commentary: Personal problems cannot become a permission slip for an indefinite production holiday.
Commentary: You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to get the next performance level. Instead, I expect you to do the ordinary things extraordinarily well.
Commentary: When you hit a wall learn to bounce, not splatter.
Commentary: Carelessness will not be permitted to become a lifestyle.
Commentary: Do what you say, and then some. Hit your numbers, and then some. Keep your commitments, and then some.
Commentary: You will not be permitted to inflict distractions, momentum-breakers, or negativity on your teammates.
Commentary: Our core values are non-negotiable. They will shape your behaviors; you will not infect our culture by abusing them.
Commentary: Excuses are the DNA of underachievers. One of the best days of your life is when you give them up. Why not start today?
Some of these business facts of life may have comforted you, while others confronted you. You will learn more from the latter.