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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What's the Secret to Your Success?

Success Let's face it... we all want to be successful in our lives, our families and our careers.  But what are the ingredients of success... how do you measure it... and what do you need to do to be successful?

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers; and he addresses this question in a recent post at his blog, Working Smart.  I think it has some good advice for everyone who works in business OR ministry...  Michael writes:

This past weekend, I received an email from one of my readers. He started, “I have an MBA, but I must have missed the course on Fast-Tracking My Career. If you had to boil it down to one thing, Mr. Hyatt, what would you recommend to a young, aspiring person such as myself?”

I'm not sure I could boil it down to one thing. Life isn’t usually that simple. But if I really, really had to boil it down to one thing, I would say this: responsiveness.

So many people I meet are unresponsive. They don’t return their phone calls promptly. They don’t answer their emails quickly. They don’t complete their assignments on time. They promise to do something and never follow through. They have to be reminded, prodded, and nagged. This behavior creates work for everyone else and eats into their own productivity. Sadly, they seem oblivious to it.

When I was a kid, we used to play “Tag.” The objective was simple: keep from becoming “It.” If someone tagged you (touched you), you became “it” until you tagged someone else. Whoever was “it” when the game ended, lost.

Business is very similar. People “tag” us in countless ways every day. They place calls. They send emails. They mention something to us in a meeting. Suddenly, we are “it.” And, just like the game, if you stay “it” too long, you lose. The only winning strategy is to respond quickly and make someone else “it.”

Reality is that we live in an “instant world.” People want instant results. They don’t want to wait. And if they have to wait on you, their frustration and resentment grows. They begin to see you as an obstacle to getting their work done. If that happens, it will begin to impact your reputation. Pretty soon people start saying, “I can never get a timely response from him,” or “When I send her an email, I feel like it goes into a black hole,” or worse, your colleagues just roll their eyes and sigh at the mention of your name.

Yet, these are the very people who will push you up or pull you down. You cannot succeed without the support of your peers and subordinates. (Go back and re-read that sentence again.)

As I was making my way to the top, my former boss, Sam Moore, used to ask everyone I worked with, “What’s it like to work with Mike?” “How’s he really doing?” “Do you think he could take on more responsibility?” In responding to him, all they had was their experience with me. If I hadn’t been responsive to them, how do you think they would have responded to his questions? “More responsibility? Are you kidding me? He can’t handle what he has now!” It wouldn’t take too many candid responses like that to tank my career.

And yet this happens to people all the time. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have sat in where people are complaining about someone else’s work habits. “He always waits until the last minute.” “She never plans ahead.” “I can never get him to respond to my emails.” You may think that the people who are making these comments are too far down the food chain to matter. I can assure you they aren’t. They have a way of bubbling to the top where the decisions about your career are made.

The truth is, you are building your reputation—your brand—one response at a time. People are shaping their view of you by how you respond to them. If you are slow, they assume you are incompetent and over your head. If you respond quickly, they assume you are competent and on top of your work. Their perception, whether you realize it or not, will determine how fast your career advances and how high you go. You can’t afford to be unresponsive. It is a career-killer.

My basic rule is this: respond immediately unless there is a good reason to wait. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, especially since I spend so much time in meetings. Nevertheless, I rarely let messages sit longer than a day. Twenty-four hours is the outside edge. If you can’t respond now, then at least acknowledge that you have received the message: “I received your message. I don’t have time to give it the attention it deserves right now, but you can expect to hear from me before the end of the day tomorrow.”

The great thing about being responsive is that it will quickly differentiate you from your peers. People love doing business with responsive people. Nothing will advance your career faster than this.

Your thoughts?

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February 28, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink

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That hit the target.

Posted by: Kent | Feb 28, 2006 10:47:53 AM

Many verses come to mind to support this, "yes/yes no/no" and "being blameless" etc.

One thing that I would add is to not use this "style" of ethic so that you can succeed (greed). Be this and you will succeed at whatever you do...

At home it's responding to doing the dishes or taking out the trash or fixing the tree house, etc.

Posted by: BeHim | Feb 28, 2006 11:09:18 AM

Jesus Christ is the KEY & the SECRET of my succes.

Ten years ago he took this poor helpless man who had tried and lived life to it's fullest. Yes sir I was the prodigal son and I lived the life of whiskey, women, money, fame, fighting, and being an outlaw.

I got mad at God for several things taking place in my life and I blamed him. Why did I blame him? Because it was easier to put the blame on him than me taking all the blame.

I tried relationship after relationship, drinking, taking over the counter meds with the alcohol, fighting, hating people, getting even with people, living my dreams of riding bulls, truck driving, and joining the army. I was tee totally bankrupty (SPRITITUALLY & MORALELY.)

Then in October of 1996 God used a card from my dads pastor that had Jeremiah 29:11 on it, "For I know the plans that have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future." I cried out to him "DO for me that I cannot do for myself."

Remember now I was broke.... God restored my spiritual life and has used me to preach, sing, give my testimony for him even in places where they told me I couldn't, but I kept on giving it anyway because I burn for him. He has used me in jail ministry to minister to people there, on the street, everywhere.

Now today, I am remarried happily for 6years now, I have a 5 year old son, he gave me back my daughter, she now wants to be with me because of all the ones who put me down in front of her tried to take her from me thinking I was not a good dad or father to her. She is mad at these people and she has told me that they where wrong about her dad, today she is an A& B student.

We own our home, we have two vehicals. My wife has a good job. I quit my job to persue the Lord in my own business and he has brought me Loads of jobs this week. I have been going by faith, because that is all I have.

Jesus Christ is the reason I am a succes fellows. I owe it all to him. And I always remember this little saying that I coined "What took years to build, took only seconds to destroy." I am not about to be like the rich farmer. I am giving God all the glory, because if it where not for him I would have never made it to the top.

Boy my bees are swarming.... Thank you Lord Jesus for making me a success inspite of all of my faults, faliures, and sins. Amen

Posted by: Clairvoyent 1 | Feb 28, 2006 2:02:38 PM

I am leaving a church after 13 years as worship leader in large part because of the Pastor's unresponsiveness. I partly enabled his unresponsiveness, as the years went on, I would pick up the slack. In the last year it became more and more obvious that he was doing nothing, not an exaggeration. We had added staff and he still came unprepared to meetings, still did not read what the other staff members needed him to read. Was still late to all meetings, still couldn't get his message done till late Sat. night. The list could be infinite. When confronted he just shut down. He refushed to recognize any problems. We all finally ended up with the Bishop. When the Bishop ask the Pastor if he felt that any of our complaints/concerns were valid, he told him, "He needed a new team."

Posted by: Kelly | Mar 6, 2006 12:17:17 PM

This post is right on. We all get frustrated when our questions are not answered in timely manner. When the ATM is out of order. When the line is too long at our favorite fast food place. When waiting on hold and we are confronted with automated phone voices that tell you your wait will be in excess of 5 minutes. When we have to push a bunch of buttons on the phone and still never get a real person. The list goes on. We all want to talk to real people with real answers. It is what we have come to expect, isn't it?

As staff and pastors in churches, we need to be responsive to the needs of our church and our community. Otherwise, people are just going to walk out. They will find a restaurant with a shorter line. They will find an ATM that works. They'll keep hitting #0 until they get a real person. And they will quit doing business where they feel they are unimportant.

Posted by: Peter D | Mar 6, 2006 2:46:33 PM

I agree that responsiveness is a key to "success" in ministry as well as in business. However, I'll run the risk of being labeled a heretic for the question I am about to ask: When might "unresponsiveness" be appropriate or, dare I say, even necessary? I ask this because clearly there are occasions in scripture when God appeared "unresponsive" - Job comes to mind, as do Lazarus and Jairus. In these delayed responses, God received greater glory. What principles might we learn from these examples? Or do we simply need to say, "That's God; since I'm not God, I need to respond."?

(Note: I am NOT suggesting that because Jesus waited a couple days before going to Bethany to see Lazarus, I am justified in not responding in a timely manner to an e-mail or phone call.)

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 6, 2006 3:06:05 PM

While I enjoyed Michael’s views, I think they are a bit idealistic. I receive nearly 100 emails and phone calls a day. The key of success is managing your communications with your priorities. Some things simply are not worth responding to... like junk mail. Some messages don't need a response, like an FYI message. While you may not agree with everything in the message, it may not require your response either. However, if you receive a message that is directly aligned with your priorities, responsiveness is essential. Every thing that is not align with your priorities is sucking away one of your most valuable assets… your time.

Posted by: John White | Mar 6, 2006 3:18:00 PM

Responsiveness, professionalism and validation of the other person go hand in hand.
However I agree with several comments that setting realistic boundaries has to play a part in success as well. Balancing the two avoids the tyranny of trivial while affirming others' value and your own. Being indiscrimately responsive can lead to burn out. This can lead to weak responses or worse irritability.

Posted by: John Reeser | Mar 6, 2006 4:39:56 PM

My "secrest to success" are:

Be faithful to Christ.
Be in love with God.
Be in the Bible.
Be in prayer.
Be in step with the Spirit.
Be active in listening.
Be slow to reply.
Be slow to anger.
Be quick to minister.
Be alert to opportunities to witness.
Be careful in my walk.
Be in love with my wife and family.
Be open to suggestions.
Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.
Be watchful in all things.
Be ready to preach the Word in any season.
Be myself in Christ.

Posted by: Dan Moore | Mar 7, 2006 8:56:14 AM

Sucess is not what's outside of you, But inside of you. It's not in the mind of man, But the heart of man... For in many cases you can be a public sucess, But a private failure. (Matt. 16:26)

Posted by: JR LaFrance | Mar 8, 2006 3:27:40 AM

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