Like many of you out there, I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek and his book “Start With Why”. However, I think it is much easier to find, follow and communicate your WHY to your team when business runs smoothly, than it is when things get tough (and at one point all businesses hit a critical point). It’s everyone’s dream to keep things easy going and stress-free and get what we want from our business - to achieve our goals and projections. While we all aim for this, more often than not, we will hit a wall or a roadblock. Running a business isn’t without its constant challenges. So how do we keep positivity, motivation and passion alive? How do we let our WHY guide us in the hard times and be our light at the end of the tunnel?
Perspective. One of the first things you learn in ski lessons is to not look at your skis. If you do, you will most likely go the wrong direction, possibly hit someone and worst case scenario end up in a tree or falling off a cliff. The first rule is to look forward- and not just anywhere forward – but in the exact spot where you want to go. Focusing on the destination allows you to get comfortable with the bumps you may feel under your skis, with the rough terrain or the icy patches. You are more likely to glide gracefully through the snow and get to the bottom of the hill safely than if you are too focused on whether your skis are parallel.
I see this with my team quite often. We get busy, accounts get hard and sometimes there are way too many things to juggle simultaneously. Often times we forget what we have to achieve and instead focus on the challenge at hand. That takes away the vision and the goal and it relinquishes us to the ephemeral desperation of the moment. The most successful people take challenges as part of the road to achievement and look forward no matter what.
Active Inspiration. A very close friend of mine works for one of the top law firms in the country. She bills the largest number of hours, is the only one in her class to still be with the company and has dedicated almost a decade to the firm. She’s about to make partner and, for her, that has become a big life and financial decision to make. At first I wondered why the hesitation – she has given her all to the company – so being a partner has had to be the goal all along, right? Well, for her, the original desire to achieve this goal seems to be fading.
I asked her what changed – the team she worked with was one of the best and had won some of the most prestigious cases so it couldn’t be that. Her response was that she was always inspired by the vision the company projected, the speeches that were given and the goals they all put forth, but THAT inspiration alone was not enough. She was looking for what I call active inspiration. The kind of inspiration that is lived from the top down. The kind where leadership is not just directed AT people, but lived WITH people. Not the kind of inspiration spoken from a soapbox in a cold conference room, but the heartwarming, end of the workday, barefoot on the floor, exhausted, yet oh so happy to be with a team that truly achieved something that day kind of inspiration. The kind where you look around and you want to be like your leader- not because they are successful and win everything, but because of how they treat those around them and how they inspire others through what they do on a daily basis.
When things get hard, and they inevitably always do in the course of doing business, it is this perspective that will help teams see beyond challenges and obstacles. The more we can project the goal and finish line, encourage and actively inspire, the more likely we are to succeed as a team. And strong teams always get past the hard times!
Sabina Gault is the CEO of Konnect Agency, an award-winning communications and marketing agency based in Downtown Los Angeles. A seasoned and passionate PR and marketing practitioner, Sabina leads a team of dedicated staffers who provide a boutique-level of personal service combined with an adept ability to effectively build brands that has resulted in a long list of legacy clients. Since founding the agency in 2009, Konnect has been named the #1 PR Agency on the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing U.S. Companies” list and was included on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” listing among many other accolades. Konnect Agency has been WBENC-Certified since 2015.