Question your self

Personal performance discussions is one of the most energizing things, I know.

Why?

Because when you sit down to discuss your personal performance with your manager, it’s a great opportunity to reflect upon what you have learned, look inward and figure out where you want to go from here in terms of your personal development.

For a curious person such as myself that brings a ton of energy. Because I am not only curious about the world around me, ideas, technologies, trends and solving problems that affect people. I am also deeply curious about myself.

Which is why I always take these discussions very seriously.

Having said that I have found that there has always been a part missing from these development discussions or – more precisely – personal reflections:

The difference between stating an intent and asking a question.

Let me try to explain, as I think this is super important as a differentiator for your ability to truly grow both professionally and personally:

When you state an intent, you say “I will do xyz…”. You paint a picture of a desired future state.

The problem with doing that is that it’s entirely non-committal. It hinges 100% on your discipline in terms of following through on the actions you need to take to get to that desired future state.

And we all know what tends to happen with discipline towards personal or professional growth? It’s fun for a short while, we start to loose interest, and before we know it we have more or less abandoned our desire and replaced it with more of the same.

Maybe it’s a bit taken to the extreme, but I am sure, you get my point.

Now, what would happen if instead of stating an intent, you framed it like a question for yourself instead?

Instead of saying “I will do zyx…” put the question “Will I do xyz?” to yourself instead.

I think doing this accomplishes two very important things:

First of all it forces to be brutally honest about your desire for that future state, the question refers to. Because if the answer is just “No”, you have no desire to do it, and it’s not really a personal growth goal for you.

You have been lying yourself, and you’re given an opportunity to stop and come up with something that is more true to what you really desire.

Second, by asking it as a question, you address all the potential barriers to your growth target up front. You will be saying to yourself that “Yes, I will but only if this this and this don’t get in the way”.

The beauty of that is that you can then start your growth journey by addressing the very things that are keeping you back and which you already know will be at the core of why you risk losing interest.

In other words: By getting rid of the barriers to your growth, you increase your chances or success in achieving your goal by a great magnitude.

Or at least so I think.

Which is why I will be using this approach for myself going forward.

Yes, it will put me on the spot in different situations. And some of it will be beyond my comfort zone, I am sure. But honestly; isn’t that what all kinds of personal growth and development is about?

One thing is for sure: It doesn’t happen by doing nothing.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Getting partnerships right

Partnerships in business can be extremely rewarding. But making them actually work can also be super, super tough.

While many seem to think that the brunt of the work is in finding and negotiating with the right partner, the truth of the matter is that the real, tedious work begins afterwards.

When focus is on getting the partnership to work.

Herein lies three epic struggles.

The least – although many would consider it the biggest – is to actually be able to realize the potential of the partnership. If you have done your homework and your due diligence properly, you will know that you can make this happen, because all the ingredients and components you need to get the job done is there.

Which brings me to the two other struggles that will determine whether the above mentioned potential succeeds or not:

Internal and external stakeholders.

To start off with the internal, one thing you have to realize before you even start thinking about partnering is what your own internal stakeholders mean by ‘partnerships’ and ‘partners’. Because that may not be a given in any way.

Some will say they think of win-win relationships, where you give something and get something else in return, and it’s a healthy back and forth that will draw on each partners core strengths and ability to contribute. Those are the good ones.

But some will also disclose that what they think of when they think of a ‘partner’ is ‘someone who contributes, so I can win’.

Those are the troublesome ones.

Why?

Because they won’t necessarily commit to contribute what is needed from your own end in order to make the partnership a success. Worst case for you they will leave you hanging out to dry in front of the partner – and solely put the blame for the ensuing failure on you

So making sure all internal stakeholders have the same positive understanding of what it means to partner and commits to seeing it through is absolutely key.

That leaves the struggles with your external stakeholders.

What you will often find here are the exact same issues as with your internal stakeholders – why would it be any different on the other side of the table?

Because in addition to the already known and typical issues, you will also have the challenge of making sure the alliance is healthy and well, so to say.

This can be no small task. Because it works as in most romantic relationships; while the romantic feelings are on an all time high and everything is rosy, when you’re dating, the rosiness fades and the daily grind sets in once you have committed and tied the not.

This is when it becomes about making the partnership operational and durable. It will be stress tested time and time again, and just as rows occur in a marriage – sometimes with greater frequency – there will be tons of times where things will get rocky, people will want to leave and just abandon everything.

Here it is your job to keep the perspective and get everybody aligned again. And again. And again.

For the greater good that brought you together in the first place.

There is no substitute for it. It is essentially what makes every sort of partnership – personal as well as professional – work.

Now, why bother thinking about all of this stuff?

Because it is super essential when you talk about the idea of partnering and basing your strategy on partnerships that you’re fully and realistically aware of what it entails.

If not you’re going to end up in the statistics of partnerships that fails, and your only consolation will be that it’s the typical outcome of what otherwise started as a grand initiative.

Instead of getting to that place you should ensure that you have what it takes to get partnerships right;

Make sure your internal stakeholders are aligned and signed on to the approach and what it demands – yes, DEMANDS – from them. Make them sign a piece of paper, if you have to. Just get it done.

On the external front be honest and transparent. Always and from the very start. To stay in the marriage analogy get the divorce papers in order before you sign up. Tell them all the ways things are going to end up bad and make sure they understand it. And then ask them to commit.

Only when you have these things in place, should you progress with pursuing all the true benefits and value that can be unlocked through a great, mutually committed and enduring partnership.

And they can be B.I.G.

But only then.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Startup-life as football fan

People who know me well also know that for the past close to 30 years, I have nurtured a deep passion for Blackburn Rovers Football Club. (Heck, this season our Danish supporters club even have a first team player sponsorship between us).

From a distance I have witnessed ups and downs (and lets face it; the last 10 years have been most on the downslope), and I have felt both the joy and the pain of being so much into something you just passionately want to end up well.

When I think of it, I think that a lot of what you experience on the emotional side as a passionate fan is similar to the emotions you go through when trying to build and be successful with a startup;

A few times the team will be firing on all cylinders, dominate the opposition and score a plethora of goals to the extend that you almost get tired of winning.

Sometimes the team will be playing really well but be unable to get the ball across the line for a goal. Super frustrating times and instead of feeling you at least got a draw and a point, you will rue the two points lost from the win that was not to be.

Sometimes your team plays well for 88 minutes, commits a really howler – or the goalkeeper forgets he can use his hands – and you will loose at the death of the game.

Sometimes you will just get run over by a superior side, and the most important job is how to put it behind you and move ahead with confidence to the next game and the next opportunity.

And sometimes you will be able to pull off the upset of the season, but superior opposition – and have absolutely no idea how you did it but still delight from your triumph.

But most of the times the team will be in there battling back and forth over 90 minutes plus added time, feeling on top in some periods of the game and hugely under pressure during others. And the scoreline most likely won’t reflect the amount of effort put into achieving whatever boring result, you end up with.

But there’s still passion, energy and tenacity to get it right and ultimately win. And you never, ever lose hope that your team will prevail in the end.

(Photo: Blackburn Rovers Football Club)

Turn on the jets

When the shit hits the fan, you have got a choice:

You can either panic and retreat. Hastily. Or you can grab the sword and fight your way out of it and count on that the other guys will choose option one and just head for the hills.

On that note now is the time to grab your sword and go out full swinging. Seize the opportunity of the moment and “turn on the jets” as professor Scott Galloway calls it.

Why?

Because the learnings and skills you get in a time of crisis will serve you super well, when things start getting back to normal. Because you will be used to fighting and (hopefully) winning everything else that follows will seem more like a breeze.

You will simply enter the next new normal at a higher level than those around you, who chose to bail or just do nothing. And that will be able to set you apart.

Furthermore, when you stand up and fight now, you will realize just how hard things are. You will be forced to look super hard at things, make tough decisions, go into full frontal mode and just face the challenges head on.

You will NOT cut any corners, not get lazy, not get into excess habits of spending both money and time on things that don’t really get you forward.

You will be able to stay laser focused while your experience grows – and you will come out of this…

Alive and kicking. With all jets at full throttle.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)