What must change in 2015?

This is the first full week of the New Year and if you are like most individuals, you are going to have a better year than last year, because you have taken time to carefully consider what you want to accomplish.

Your goals might be considered “SMART,” which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. If your goals have not included these criteria you might want to consider some editing and fine-tuning to make to be more clear.

Business goals are great to have. There is one, and only one, obstacle that stands in the way of getting things done.

It isn’t the competition.

It isn’t the economy.

It isn’t the politicians, or the government.

It isn’t your clients.

It isn’t your business partners, including vendors and allies.

It isn’t your employees.

It’s you. You are the obstacle standing in the way of achieving your goals in 2015.

In my experience, most leaders are great at pointing at some distant shimmering image and getting everyone excited about moving in a general direction, somewhere “over there.”

This activity takes place often in companies. I suspect in most companies it happens every January.

Because the leader is best at bellowing out to all who can hear that “We are going this way!” in no time flat, the followers fall back into doing the same old things the same old ways and nothing of significance has changed.

Reality sets in. The company has not moved forward. The employees are still sitting right where they started.

The leader becomes furious, angry, disappointed, frustrated and perhaps bitter and then proceeds to become isolated, and scowls, and growls, keeps track of all those people who failed to follow his or her call to action, those who failed to follow through, those who failed to believe in a better company and a better future.

According to research conducted by Larry Haughton, author of “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Do” eighty three percent of all people will sit on their hands at the start of any initiative. And those that will get off their hands will do so after they see that it’s safe and the change is likely to succeed.

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, John F. Kennedy said that “Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.” And in the months between April 1961 and October 1962, Kennedy grew as a leader. The Cuban Missile Crisis had a far different and better outcome as a result of his personal and professional growth.

2015 can only become better for your company if you become more clear about the goals you have for your company.

But you must also become more engaged, more energetic, more decisive, move faster, listen more intently, give people corresponding responsibility and authority, hold people accountable for getting things done, stay focused on deadlines, aren’t afraid to give praise, or discipline when needed, and willingly celebrate successes and conduct “no blame” autopsies when something doesn’t go right.

There are many reasons not to starting acting this way, and only one real good reason to do all of them: because you want a better company then you have today.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing John Naber speak on his “Gold Medal Process.” Naber is a five time Olympic medalist. In his talk he spoke of the four words on the cap of a bottle of Mug Root Beer. The words are “No Deposit, No Return.”

At the end of 2015, you will know how much of a deposit you made into your own company to make it better because you will be able to count the “return.” It’s a simple choice for you to make as the New Year begins.

Happy New Year, may 2015 be your best ever.

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