You have seen those men and women that have been married for years and have let themselves go whether extra weight, outdated look, or the loss of pep that made the other like them so much. Folks get settled into what is comfortable, easy and things just start to lose importance. Before you know it, you realize your best self was some time ago and you wonder if you can get it back and certainly your partner is thinking the same thing.
In a business relationship, between an organization and its employees, the same holds true. Organizations court, some time intensely and fiercely, to win you over to their team. They offer you a good package, opportunities for advancement and the idea or fantasy of having your own empire.
Employees, too, play the game of coming to the dance with their best outfit, their promises to be their best, give their all, win like no other, be relentless to learn, grow and demonstrate loyalty that they will not look at another company.
At some point, the honeymoon is over and reality sets in. The air comes out of the bubble and depending on how far off you are from what you represented, respectively, will determine how disappointed you will each be and who will be disappointed the most.
Anyone who has been in a successful relationship knows that you have to be sincere, honest, respectful, ethical, healthy, kind, constantly learning/growing and give more than you expect if you want your relationship to live and flourish. The same holds true for your Business Relationships.
What is a Healthy Business Relationship?
In 2011, a healthy business relationship is an absolute necessity if you want to win in the global economy. We need each other like never before. Our talents as individuals when well placed in a diversified group coupled with the power of brand and financial strength can make for a powerful partnership. A successful partnership is one of trust, giving our best and not expecting an equal reciprocity. It is a partnership that strives and drives for excellence in all things we do together. You have seen those partnerships. They are strong and formidable, loving, kind, intensely emotional, intellectual with deep sense of connection. In the business world if you do not have that sense of connection between an individual, a team and a company, you will not win in the global marketplace. If you want to win, you have to have a Healthy Business Relationship.
To talk about this subject, we need a series of posting involving employees, teams and organizations. Today’s post is about the employee role and the importance and necessity of self-development. If we believe the notion that we are responsible for our own destiny, then we should have high expectations of ourselves and recognize individuals, as employees, hold the key to success. This includes employees being accountable to what they promised and what we expect of them when it comes to personal and professional growth. Employees play a critical role on the team so they must constantly be challenging themselves and ultimately their team to greatness in their mind, spirit and heart.
“…The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”
– Hindu Proverb
Employees on a team and in an organization must commit to themselves to constantly work on improving themselves. That is how to stay fit and stay in a healthy relationship.
I have been working for global and successful companies for 18 years and I have found self-development to be an underpinning of a successful relationship. Employees who practice self-development are multi-faceted through enlightenment and practice. To be successful in your business relationship you need to be the following:
1) Be a Technical Superhero.
2) Be a Life Long Student and Sage Seeker.
3) Be a Principles and Morals Partner.
4) Be a Humanist.
5) Be a Connector.
6) Be an Athlete.
7) Be a Kind Contrarian.
8) Be a Calculated Risk Taker.
9) Be a Leader of One and Many.
10) Be Yourself.
Be a Technical Superhero
Become fierce and ferocious about your technical skills. As employees, organizations are expecting you come to the relationship with an already healthy set of technical and analytical skills. Whether you are in the business of law, accounting, relationships and advocacy, IT technical skills, marketing, operations or organizational development to name a few, you have to know your profession and its technical and analytical skills like no one’s business. You are not going to be expected to know the business or certainly be an expert out of the gate, but you are expected to come to the table with the technical skills to handle the job. Whether in an existing job or a new assignment, you have to study and practice the skills to keep yourself current and relevant. I tell my team compatriots “think of yourself as if you are joining favorite pro football team and you are the quarterback. You are expected to know to throw touchdowns, make completions and get the ball down the field. You are not expected to know the playbook of the team, but you are expected to bring your strength and skills and not only learn the playbook but bring a fresh perspective based on your expertise that would otherwise be missing without you.” The same is true in when you join a company or a team in business. They are hiring your strengths so be fierce and ferocious and bring your A game to the table. If you are coming into a new position, make sure you already have down at least half of the job they are asking you to do and be ready to put in a tremendous amount of hours, outside the office, to learn the new skills, laws, theories and practices to help you escalate up the learning curve.
When studying your subject matter, please know all the basic answers are out there. You have to be willing to put in whatever the effort to seek the answers and obtain understanding. Your teammates, your team leader and your company will invest in you to the same degree you are willing to invest in yourself. The law of attractions is alive and well when it comes to self-development. Be willing to be the Technical Superhero even if you have to moonlight to get there. Success doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because of tremendous investment by those willing to invest in themselves.
With the world changing so fast, there are expectations you take the time and energy to self develop and improve quickly and constantly. It is what being “informative” is all about and one of the five pillars of i5. Also, it is what you bring to a healthy relationship. When you are healthy and in shape you will want to be with others who are like-minded and others with the same qualities will seek you out and want to be with you. Be a Technical Superhero and Be Informative. It is what makes a business relationship healthy and long lasting.
Be a Life Long Student and Sage Seeker.
Be tenacious to learn new frameworks in your profession, new management and leadership concepts and learn unrelated subjects. Learning new items regardless of the subject is a huge multiplier for you as an employee. Expanding your knowledge makes your conversations more interesting, enlightening and empathetic. Knowledge makes your contributions to the business relationship more creative. People like to take their newfound knowledge and apply it. Applying your newfound knowledge, regardless of the topic, in a new and creative way is what being innovative is all about. Being Innovative is one of the five pillars of i5 and one of the most interesting.
Take a look at something that you just love whether a painting, a great book, a new technical gadget, an application, a website or service, a movie, a designed room and see if you notice the multiple layers of textures, ideas, or needs being met. Creativity is about layering and mixing multiple items. It could be bringing together unrelated topics. For example, Picasso’s artwork took cubism and introduced new shapes and form and incorporating African Art to create some of the most revered and widely recognized artwork around the world. Spend some time looking at his artwork, see if you can see the singular items and how they were layered, integrated and ultimately created a new masterpiece and a new form of art language. As another example, last week in Santa Fe, New Mexico I met and spent time with an artist named Jennifer JL Jones. She was discussing one of her painting that was on exhibit. Jennifer is an accomplished artist with representation/exhibits in Atlanta, Florida, Santa Fe, Chicago, and San Francisco. When I viewed her work, I loved it and was inspired to include her in this section as her work is a creation of nine different mediums (oil, acrylic, textured paper, asphalt, wood stain, glue, charcoal, wax and metal) all on a wood board. For me the work is beautiful and a great example of learning and using different items in a layering way to create something completely different, unique an extraordinarily beautiful.
You can apply these concepts to business in many ways: 1) be enlightened that creativity comes from learning new things and 2) layering and mixing unique and unrelated items together is what creates something new. Other examples, more applicable to the business and technology world include Steve Jobs and the invention of the Mac computer. In his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, Steve Jobs talked about having an insatiable appetite to learn and he took a calligraphy class after dropping out of college. Ten years after taking the class, when he was designing the first Macintosh computer, all his studies of typography came back to him. “The Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts” had he not mixed and layered. Some most recent inventions featured in Time Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2010 display the art of layering and mixing to create anew: 1) Flipboard the fabulous iPad application that organizes getting updates from your friends via facebook, twitter and links from others of interest in an browsable and magazine like format. The images are oversized, the typography is clean and the product has an overall glossy magazine feel that is just superb. Here is an example of mixing the reality of information overload of social media with the old world charm of magazines where we could sit and read flipping the pages on a Sunday afternoon (something I am doing today). Great concepts are born when we bring items together and ask “why not”?
If you research innovative creations you will see the Life Truth that mixing ideas and theories together is how new ideas, creations and inventions are born. Here is one last example of just how new and crazy things get life. eLegs Exoskeleton is a robotic prosthetic leg that uses artificial intelligence to “read” the wearer’s arm gestures via crutches and capturing and simulating their walk without a tether.
Today military soldiers use exoskeletons to lift heavy packs and this idea was the inspiration for eLeg. I wonder if an ex-military solider was the connector in helping to bring the need to regain or obtain movement of others and exoskeletons together? Rehabilitation centers are using this technology today and it is expected this will hit the home market in 2013.
Innovation is not just creating new things by mixing, layers and bringing together disparate ideas, but it is also about having the tenacity and courage to work on dormant ideas started by others and making them your own. Some say Apple’s iPad is one such example where Apple reinvented Microsoft’s unpopular TabletPC by creating and layering in new finger friendly hardware and software to its already intuitive operating system with access to prolific applications.
Recognize that while these items are big and life changing, they were started by people willing to learn, keep their eyes and mind open to creation and were willing to speak their voice. If you work for a company, you have the backing of a company with financial power, brand strength and the amazing power of a team of individuals. You don’t have to work at Google, Facebook or Apple to be Innovative. I submit you have to be willing to learn, create and then most importantly of all…speak your voice and then speak it again, until one of your ideas makes it from ideation to creation.
Become a Life Long Learner and you will become Innovative. Being innovative is a VERY attractive feature to bring to the Business Relationship.
Life Truth: A business relationship is no different than any other close relationship. You have to be willing to give your best, grow and constantly reinvent yourself. Greatness will follow in the proportion you are willing to contribute to the relationship. Be willing and through actions put your best self forward. Your business relationships will be what sustains you economically.
Hey where are 3 – 9? You are probably wondering where the rest of the self-development topics are at….well we should let these two marinate for a bit to go from your conscious to your subconscious. Feel free to read again and more importantly spend some time seeking examples of where this maybe true in your own world and your own experiences. Know of any Technical Superheroes and any Life Learners? I do, they are my friends, my colleagues, my mentor, my leadership, my beloved man, my mother, my family and my team. They were the inspiration for this post. When you see that we are informative and innovative creatures if we are willing to open our eyes, minds and hearts to learning new things and mixing and layering and creating ideas, we will see that they sky is the limit for us. Share with me what you observed; I would love to hear what you see with these lenses.
The rest of the articles will post over the coming weeks. I too need time to take my superhero strengths to create and develop something worthy of your valuable time.
Be a Technical Superhero. Be a Life Learner,