Excerpted from the book on conscious business management, Business Black Belt
When the smoke clears and the dust settles,
you have either a success or an excuse.
The people who accept the final responsibility become the ones in charge—it doesn’t seem to work the other way around.
In a world of lawsuits where someone can sue a company because its coffee is too hot, you might wonder how you would get ahead by taking total responsibility for everything and everyone around you.
One of the things I like about martial arts is that you can’t BS your way through it. If you miss blocking a punch, you can’t say, “Well, gee, I blocked that punch,” while you’re lying on the floor. Either you blocked it or you didn’t. You can’t BS your way to a black belt and you can’t really BS your way through business either. (At least, not for long.)
Some people brag about how they BSed their way through school. Only now they are faced with BSing other BSers. Trust me, these people are easy to spot. It’s remarkably refreshing to meet someone who can really deliver. In fact, to be really unique or unusual today, try shooting it totally straight with people.
I met recently with a product expert, Bill, who felt that he was getting a raw deal on his contract. I sat down at the meeting and immediately said, “We’re screwing you on this deal, aren’t we?” (The contract was at a stage where we had it stacked completely in our favor and it needed work.) He said yes, relieved that he didn’t have to fight me to prove that it was a bad deal, a deal I myself wouldn’t have taken if I were him. Then we could get to the details that needed fixing and not waste time being defensive and making excuses. Why not just call it like it is and move forward?
Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can.
~ Edward Robert Bulwer, Earl of Lytton, author
Your business is hot because you are there
Arrogance aside, this book is hot because I wrote it. Given that bold intention, I did everything I could to make it interesting and useful. I must take responsibility for my excellence all the time—you must too. Your business is where it is because of the fact that you are there.
If I hold that thought, “It’s going to be great because I’m here,” then because I’m working on this, I must therefore make it great.
Many people don’t take enough responsibility for the fact that they are there. The fact that they’re there means that the product, service, and business needs to be really great.
I had trouble with one employee. He told me, “My sales territory’s got no history, no sales.” I pointed out to him, “Hey, the very fact that you are there is going to make this happen.” He couldn’t (wouldn’t) get it. He wanted the territory to be already producing, to see that he was already going to make money. He couldn’t see the opportunities in his territory and that he could have made it go. He could have sold a lot of software, built quite an empire for the company, and taken a lot of credit for doing it. But he would not take responsibility for what he was doing, for his own presence in the situation, and for the fact that with his energy, he could create something out of nothing. As you study men’s and women’s successes throughout history, you’ll see how people who can make something out of nothing are huge successes, and this ability is consistent among great business successes.
Guilt: The difference between what you are doing
and what you think you should be doing.
I’m only human…
Let’s say I’m your dentist. How many mistakes will you allow me to make while drilling in your mouth? How many mistakes do you allow the airline pilot flying the plane you’re in? Likewise, customers expect a certain degree of perfection in the products and services they buy from you.
OK, you’ve got to experiment sometimes to see what works, but restrict that to an appropriate environment that can’t be used as an excuse for sloppiness. The point I’m making is that you should have no room for error in what you do if you want to build a reputation for quality. Saying you’re only human leaves room for inattentiveness to what you are doing. You may think it relieves you of responsibility. It does not. It didn’t help MacDonald’s when they were sued for a hot coffee spill. Sure mistakes happen, but you cannot let yourself off the hook with such an excuse like you’re only human.
It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations,
if you live near him.
~ J.R.R. Tolkein, author
Either you make life easier for your customers by providing them with a lot of good stuff or they’ll find someone else who will. I’m sick of hearing why something didn’t work or whose fault it was. If you’re responsible for managing a project or other people who are managing a project, you need to be sure of what they’re going to do so that there’s no excuse to tell about what they did or didn’t do. In other words, while you’re talking to them, you’re looking way upstream for where the excuse is going to start. Make sure what they do does not become an excuse.
The best excuses that you’ll believe are the very ones you use yourself. This concept is the converse of my story of balancing my checkbook to have customers ready to buy from me. It usually works like this: We ask someone to do something or buy something and sure enough the reason for not being able to do it is something we totally empathize with. I could have kept beating my head against the wall calling customers only to hear the trend grow about how everyone hadn’t completed their budgets because subconsciously I didn’t have mine completed (and I was procrastinating doing anything about it). Therefore, I would believe the excuse wholeheartedly because it fit conveniently into my blind spot. Either you let the situation go on as hopeless or use their reasons as your insight into your own blind spot and do something about it. If your reason for not buying something is, “I don’t have the money” or, “I don’t have the time,” it’s likely you’ll hear that frequently from other people, much to your frustration. Like your customers, you aren’t looking deeper into how you can have the money (structure the deal) or have the time (commit to a date). When you do, you’ll find it easier to get past those objections and your business will skyrocket.
ONE person is accountable for the overall outcome of a project
Until I learned this and put it into practice, I often heard, “I didn’t know who was accountable for __.” This happens when a team is working on a project without a team leader who is ultimately responsible for the whole enchilada. When one of them knows his or her ass is on the line for a project or service, then that person will make sure that it works.
Either you have the results or you don’t. When you blame others, you’ve given them the power. Your power. When you look to see what you contributed to a situation that went wrong and learn from that experience in order to do something different next time—to assert yourself to assure that things work out to your satisfaction—then you will have the power. I wrote this book to empower you. Your power is in what you can do, what you can change and what you can improve.
Business Black Belt Notes
- In the end, you enjoy success or an excuse for failure.
- No mistakes are OK.
- Before making changes to please one loud customer, consider any adverse effects on the rest of your customers.
- Anticipate the future excuses others may give and do whatever it takes to assure you get what you want and not an excuse about something else that happened.