It's the Soft Stuff That Matters

by Mike Sleppin

Mike Sleppin's specialty is creating significant positive change in people-intensive industries whose business environment is changing rapidly. For example, since 1989, Mike has worked with firms touching every facet of the construction, transportation and printing industries as well as the other professional groups (Architects, Accountants, Engineers, Commercial Insurance etc) that service those niche markets. As a highly experienced, global business traveler, he helps small to mid-sized organizations understand and plan for their successful expansion into global markets. As a result of Mike's body of work, organizations achieve the goals that are important to them on a regular and consistent basis.

In my opinion, after being on this planet more years than I'm willing to admit, I believe that motivation and optimism are two ingredients that will assure success.The person who says "I can't" and the person who says "I can" are usually both right.

Two of the experts on the subject are Dr. Martin Seligman and Rosabeth Kanter (former editor of the Harvard Business Review). Confidence is the expectation of positive outcomes. Motivation is the passion to do what ever is necessary to get done what you believe is important to get done. That's the soft stuff I'm writing about.

Just trying without the two ingredients that I'm describing is never enough. Without motivation and confidence, the first setbacks (and there usually will be some) will result in quitting. If you don't expect a positive outcome, what are the chances that you will persevere? Kanter says "talent, intelligence, knowledge, are all good things to have, but the essential things are motivation and confidence."

Confidence is not arrogance, not conceit, not complacency. Confidence and motivation can't be taught, but they are contagious. Think back to when you were a part of a team or organization that believed in the "I can". Wow. As a leader or manager, do you notice that those who are motivated and confident will be the most persistent? What in the culture of your organization identifies and rewards the behaviors that result in success? When was the last time this subject was part of an ongoing program? In many organizations I've worked with this was not on the agenda. Many leaders are so busy being busy, they are not behaving as leaders. If everyone is a doer (and obviously we need doers) this may explain why too many goals are not accomplished on time.

Secure, successful people can be emotionally generous. Too many are promoted because of a necessary skill they have in abundance, Yet, of the skills they have do not include those skills that invite and encourage others to follow with panache and joy, your largest competitive advantage is not there.

Until I had a teacher at college who motivated me, I rarely picked up a book. Now sixty years later, I read and learn more every month than many learn in a year. Think of the things that attract you. Think of the things that bore you. There's your answer to why or why not people behave the way they do.

A suggestion: have a meeting once each month discussing an assigned video or article about this subject. There are many great videos and articles that will change the dynamic in the organization for the better.

If you need specifics, call us and we can recommend. Good luck!!!