In a world increasingly picking up speed, passive leaders have never been more vulnerable. Recent history has demonstrated in business it’s no longer so much a matter of the big eating the small, but the swift eating the slow. Obviously, this dynamic puts the careers of those content to wait for things to change on a leadership endangered species list. You know what I mean—those content to wait for:
• A better product: “Once the ‘X’ or ‘Y’ model gets here we’ll be rocking.”
• A better month: “Don’t worry, our busy months are still ahead of us this year.”
• A better time of the month: “When the end of the month gets here we’ll make up for our slow start.”
• A better day of the week: “Things are slow, but it’s only Tuesday. Don’t panic; Saturday will be here before you know it.”
• A better economy: “The news says things should get better economically in the next quarter.”
• A better advertising campaign: “When that mailer drops we’re going to kill it!”
• Better incentives: “I hear they’re doubling the incentives on the stair-step program next month.”
• A competitor to stop doing something: “They can’t keep giving cars away forever.”
• A manufacturer to start doing something: “Rumor has it they’re going to close two of the smaller points in this region, which means more for the rest of us.”
• A workforce to step up: “The new spiff program we’ve got planned for the weekend will shift these guys into overdrive.”
• Another department to straighten out: “Once they get the right people and improve their processes we’ll be able to sell more.”
• The new facility to be ready: “We’re only three months away from moving into the new facility, and there will be no stopping us then.”
• Things to get easier over all: “The worst is behind us. We should have smoother sailing the second half.”
Here are a few realities concerning change that all dealership leadership should understand, and the sooner the better. They should simultaneously present a jolt of reality, as well as an encouraging boost for your morale. The reality jolt is that if you’re waiting for things to change, you’re not only too slow, you’re as good as done. Eventually the passivity and indecision you’ve sown will manifest in decline. The encouraging boost is that YOU can decide to do better, to initiate the change, to act on what is within you and around you, rather than react to what is happening to you. That being said, here are the four realities of change to consider:
1. Nothing much changes for you until something changes within you. In my book, “Unstoppable” I clearly lay out the case for, and steps to, building your mindset into something far more productive than it is. There are attitude adjustments you can make, excuses you can give up, people or things you can stop blaming, and corners you stop cutting that will lift your personal performance to new levels, and inspire others to do likewise. You can marginalize the adverse conditions mentioned before by making better decisions within yourself in the areas I’ve outlined in this point.
2. Nothing much changes for you until something changes about you. It’s safe to say that the daily routine or habits you’ve developed that have gotten you to “here,” won’t be what it takes to get you to “there.” If they were adequate for the task, you’d probably already be “there.” John Maxwell said it well, “The secret to success lies in your daily routine.” And the sad fact is that many leaders have daily routines that are poorly planned, absent of structure, and are downright seat-of-the-pants-, surrender-to-every-emergency-, work-long-and-hard-but-not-smart pathetic! To reach the next performance level there are aspects of your daily routine you must decide to stop doing that you’re currently doing; aspects to begin doing that you’re failing to do; things to do more of, do less of, and do all consistently and with excellence. What they are will vary from leader to leader, and according to his or her team makeup, personal strengths, and responsibilities. Rest assured of this concerning the connection between your daily routine and the results you’re getting: if nothing changes, then nothing changes.
3. You’ve got to stop waiting for the things around you to change, and start changing the things around you, starting with what’s within and about you. Once you embrace this mindset shift and address the first two points, you will start to play to win again; and, if you’re already winning, you’ll run up the score. You will move away from the demoralizing and draining tendencies of reacting and holding ground, towards getting the upper hand on your attitude, focus, behaviors, schedule, and your time—attacking the day and shaping it to your liking, rather than being passively shaped by what’s going on around you.
4. Once you change, adverse things are less likely to happen to you, and you’re more likely to happen to things. My seven-time world champion karate instructor taught me that when facing an opponent, it’s not wise to spend immense time trying to figure them out and responding to what they throw at you. He said instead to develop a mindset to hit him fast, hard, first, last, and to keep attacking so he was reacting to me—to make him figure me out, and for me to be the competition rather than worry about the competition. I find the same focused, energetic attack-mindset works wonders in business as well. When you decide to be proactive, prepared, in your zone, and locked in on what’s truly essential each day you’ll never again have to start a day in neutral. You won’t have time for blame, excuses, or worthless activities and conversations. You’ll kindle within yourself a killer instinct and unstoppable approach that you would never have while waiting, wondering, reacting, blaming, complaining, or wishing it were easier or that things would start going your way. The late, great Jim Rohn said it well, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” To that I will add that getting better all starts with decisions and changes within your control, not on waiting for conditions outside your control to change for you.