Archive for December, 2010

Memorable Beach Scenes in 2010

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The beach – any beach – is my favorite place. It doesn’t matter what the season is: the beach is always my first choice for a get-away. During 2010 I had the opportunity to spend time at beaches on both coasts of the U.S. In no particular order, here are some of the most memorable scenes for me:

    – Walking on the beach with the Pacific Ocean on the right and a spectacular view through the palm trees of the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains off in the distance to the left in Long Beach, CA.

    – Watching pods of dolphins slice the water gracefully, pacing me as I walked along on the beach in Long Beach, CA.

    – Joining dozens of people throwing thousands of beached sand dollars back into the Gulf of Mexico after rough water or errant currents tossed them onto the beach in Naples, FL.

    – Nearly stepping on manta rays scuttling by, rushing like cars on a Los Angeles freeway, in ankle-deep water in Hilton Head, SC.

    – Delighting in the sight of a rainbow stretching across the ocean in Long Beach – without the rain that usually precedes this sight.

    – Seeing the “southernmost menorah in the U.S.” in Key West, FL.

    – Marveling at the way that the same pelicans that are so ungainly in their splash- down landings can glide effortlessly just above the tips of the waves.

    – Being taken by surprise at the unexpected the warmth of the Atlantic Ocean in Hilton Head, SC.

    – Watching surfers dotting the ocean as they waited for the right swell to catch their attention and challenge their skills in Huntington Beach and Encinitas, CA.

    – Enjoying the Christmas lights adorning the boats and docks at night, and the brightly lit Christmas “trees” floating in the bay in Long Beach, CA.

Here’s to many more memorable beach moments in 2011!

© 2010 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Perspective: When Is a Competitor Your Partner in Success?

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Earlier this month the folks in Naples, FL celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Ritz-Carlton’s opening in their town. (The hotel subsequently opened a second location there.) Anticipating the celebration were executives from other Naples hotels and resorts who view the Ritz-Carlton’s success as key to their own organizations’ well-being. Skeptics might ask, “How can that be? Isn’t the hospitality industry very competitive? Aren’t these executives just putting on their ‘game’ faces and mustering a show of public support while gnashing their teeth in private?”

I don’t think so. The reason can be summed up in one word: perspective. Twenty-five years ago when the Ritz-Carlton came to town, Naples hoteliers had a choice: they could view the “interloper” as a challenge and try to compete head-to-head with it, or they could see it as an opportunity to improve their own organizations. Some of these executives chose the latter perspective. As a result, a few of them became more discerning about their target markets, focusing on the segments that allowed them to play to their strengths. Others reveled in the opportunity to raise the performance bar in their own organizations, thus making them more attractive and ultimately more successful than they otherwise would have been. By focusing on what their organizations did best and setting high performance standards, these executives were able to benefit from the entry of what could have been a formidable competitor in their market area.

Executives and business owners who view their competitors as direct threats often end up reacting to their (the competitors’) moves, thereby effectively ceding their power to set their organizations’ course and, ultimately, limiting their potential for success. By taking an alternative perspective – i.e., defining the organization’s niche based on its strengths, and focusing on excelling at what it does best – leaders can position their organizations to thrive.

Here are three lessons this situation teaches us about how organizations can thrive in the face of competition:

1. View competitors as providing opportunities for success rather than as representing threats to survival.

In this case, hotel executives combined resources to create effective marketing campaigns for the Naples area, thereby increasing tourism dramatically. They also worked together on issues that had a positive impact on the hospitality industry as a whole.

2. Take the opportunity to purposefully review the organization’s strengths and ensure that its mission and vision truly leverage its talent.

A clearly articulated mission allows leaders to allocate scarce resources effectively and provides the motivation for employees to become fully engaged.

3. Control the organization’s destiny by being proactive rather than reacting to what the competition is doing.

A reactionary approach effectively puts the competition in control of the organization’s destiny. Though the organization may survive, it cannot thrive in that mode.

As illustrated by this story in Naples, the answer to the question posed in the title, “When is a competitor your partner in success?” is, “When you take the perspective that everyone can be well served, and you act accordingly.”

How do you view your competition?

© 2010 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Let Your Light Shine by Living Up to Your True Potential

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

What are the things you are most passionate about in life? What would it be like if those things played a prominent role in your life every day? In what ways would the world, your community, your family, and you be better off if you were able to let your light shine?

Just as organizations often fail to see their true potential – i.e., the expansive vision of what they can achieve vs. the more common limited view – so do most individuals. Even “successful” people often have unrealized potential that they fail to see and/or acknowledge. Here are some examples of obstacles that prevent individuals from seeing what they really are capable of contributing:

    – They are not used to thinking in expansive terms, especially when it comes to their own abilities.
    – In some cultures, behaviors that are viewed as self-promoting are frowned upon.
    – They have limiting beliefs that block their view.
    – They have bought into the low expectations of themselves and others.

Here are six steps you can take to help you go beyond your perceived potential and see clearly your true potential:

1. Make the first sale to yourself.
You truly must believe that you have a moral imperative to share your talents with those who desperately want and need the value only you can provide.

2. Think really big, then triple that view.
Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Follow the lead of one of my colleagues, Phil Symchych, who has resolved to “become comfortable with being uncomfortable” because he knows growth occurs only when we have pushed ourselves beyond our perceived boundaries.

3. Get the necessary support to help you envision and implement your personal “big picture.”
Ask for what you want and need. Surround yourself with those who believe in your ability to achieve your vision; jettison the naysayers. (If the latter are family members, minimize the time you spend with them.)

4. Keep your eye on the big picture.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life. Your vision is your touchstone; return to it often.

5. Align everything you do to your big picture.
Focus relentlessly on the big picture when making decisions, setting priorities, and allocating resources. Things that do not contribute to achievement of the vision should be jettisoned.

6. Celebrate success.
Living one’s passion is an on-going journey, not an event. It’s important to identify realistic measures and guideposts that enable you to recognize your progress as well as your achievements.

© 2010 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

6 Steps to Fulfilling Your Organization’s True Potential

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Falling back into a defensive posture is typical of organizations in all sectors that are faced with volatility and uncertainty. Especially in economically challenging times, many leaders tend to retreat from the storm rather than head resolutely into it, seeking the opportunities it provides. Here’s why: their limiting beliefs and expectations cause them to think and act in very narrow, “safe,” comfortable ways instead of enabling them to view the organization’s potential as expansively as possible and act accordingly. This perspective constrains the organization’s ability to optimize its available talent and delight its customers. While retreating from the storm is a very human reaction, it can have deadly consequences – e.g., people and organizations become paralyzed with fear, focusing on the myriad of “What if…?” questions instead of asking “How can we…?” When the organization’s perception of its potential is limited, the value it offers is a fraction of what it is capable of providing – i.e., its true potential. Here is one example of the dramatic difference between the perceived potential and the true potential of a women’s shelter:

Perceived potential: Provide temporary services to women who have been abused

True potential: Break the cycle of poverty that traps women who are abused

Here are six steps leaders can take to ensure that their organization lives up to its true potential:

1. Ditch the “survival” mentality.
Organizations whose leaders fail to do this may survive, but they cannot possibly thrive because the leaders are seeking the wrong outcome.

2. Create a crystal clear “big picture.”
The “big picture” is the impact the organization will make. To help identify this impact correctly, answer this question: “How will your clients or customers be better off when the organization is acting in alignment with its true potential?”

3. Communicate the “big picture” widely.
Leaders must operationalize the vision – i.e., describe in detail what it looks, sounds, feels, tastes, smells like. All stakeholders need to understand what the “big picture” means for them personally so they can understand fully what their roles must be.

4. Make the first sale to yourself.
Not only must leaders fully embrace the big picture, they truly must believe the organization has a moral imperative to provide its value to people who desperately want and need it.

5. Align all people, programs, processes, and systems to the “big picture.”
The infrastructure must support the vision. Focus relentlessly on the “big picture” when making decisions, setting priorities, and allocating resources. Things that do not contribute to achievement of the vision should be jettisoned.

6. Celebrate success.
Identify realistic measures and guideposts that enable stakeholders to recognize both progress and achievement. Keep the momentum going by appreciating efforts to live up to the organization’s true potential.

© 2010 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.