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BASICS, Part I

By Chuck Violand

September 1, 2014

Recently I was reminded of how we tend to complicate things that should otherwise be pretty uncomplicated. While we’re prone to doing this in our everyday lives, experience has taught me this is even more prevalent when it comes to business.

Admittedly, there are times when dealing with complicated systems or delicate issues is important. Engineering airplanes, performing brain surgery, and making good wine are a few examples that come to mind. But when the overwhelming majority of the issues we deal with in business are pretty straightforward, needlessly complicating them only elevates our costs and our already high stress levels. I think it’s important from time to time to step back, hit the pause button, and evaluate the things we’ve over-complicated in an effort to streamline what we can.

I’ve gathered a few suggestions from a soon-to-be-published book we’ve written at VMA that can help you make more money and have more fun with your business, just by simplifying things.

Show up. This one is pretty basic, but it’s a good place to start. Woody Allen was right when he said 80% of success is just showing up. This means showing up for work, for appointments, for meetings, even for phone calls. It means showing up when things are going well and even when they aren’t. Failing to show up telegraphs to everyone involved that you’re either weak, insincere, disorganized, or just undisciplined. Even if you are some of these things (and who isn’t from time to time) there’s no need to broadcast it to everyone. Not showing up does just that.

Keep it simple. If you’re blessed with the intelligence to grasp complex concepts, please simplify them for those of us who aren’t. We’d sure appreciate it. If you’re smart enough to use big words, don’t. Doing so usually results in only impressing ourselves about how smart we are, not those around us. If you want to impress people, speak in easy to understand terms that convey crystal clear messages everyone can understand.

Practice forgiveness. Forgiving others frees your soul. Nobody’s perfect, and we all screw up at some point—some of us more than others. Hanging onto personal slights, hurts, or screw-ups affects us more than it does the other person because it keeps us from moving on with our lives. Learn from your mistakes and create an environment where others can learn from theirs by not judging or assigning blame. People are going to make mistakes. As leaders of our companies, part of our job is to help our people grow and learn. Sometimes part of that learning involves making mistakes.

If you don’t know, ask. No one expects you to have all the answers or to always be the smartest person in the room. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of confidence and strength. It’s also an engagement tool that will enable you to ensure everyone has the opportunity to feel a sense of engagement and ownership. Plus, you can learn a great deal by asking good questions and listening carefully to the answers rather than always being the one doing the talking.