Mirror, Mirror on the wall…


The other day, I was out on my bicycle for an early season ride.  I rolled along feeling like I’ve never ridden a bike before. I was speedily passed by a group of riders. I began to think – it must be their bikes.  Perhaps the drafting effect of riding in group.  It couldn’t be me. But then recalled a time last year when I was passed by someone on a hybrid!  The bike was not the reason, as mine was far superior.  They were probably just started their ride I thought.  I was much more fatigued.  Couldn’t be me.

The harsh reality is, it is me. When I look in the mirror I see a cyclist that looks worthy of the wonderful bikes that I own and ride.  But If I look deeper, what I see before me is someone who doesn’t put in the time or effort to be better and faster.  I ride once or twice a week and eat whatever I want.  I know what it will take to up my game but I have not been willing to make the commitment to do it.  My mirror is telling me the truth, but I don’t want to listen.

I see this in companies all the time.  Laying blame and accountability elsewhere, not facing the realities of the situation.  Here are some examples:

Too many reasons ‘why not’

Salespeople blaming the system for not hitting their goals.  The company doesn’t support them or their marketing group is making it difficult.  Yet, there are success stories by those that have taken ownership and figured out a way to make it work.

Too busy

I am amazed by this.  People are too busy to do those extra calls that would help make more money and blow through their goals, yet at “quitting time” there is a mass exodus.  Mornings are spent reading the paper and catching up with colleagues — well beyond what is necessary.

Lack of accountability from managers

Managers – you know when you have made a bad hire.  Yet you refuse to act because they are nice, they are trying, etc…  Three months turns into six and they are still underperforming.  This isn’t good for anybody – especially their colleagues who are being given the message that mediocrity is tolerated.

Lack of honesty around ability

Experience doesn’t equate to mastery.  Just because you have been in sales for a long time doesn’t make you as good as you can get.  Learning and development exists in many Firms, yet people are reluctant to take advantage of it.  There should be a well thought out progression of learning and people should be required to attend and master the skills.

I am reminded of a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.  When he came to the US as a young bodybuilder, he lost a major contest to a guy who a had much more balanced physique.  Particularly, Arnold’s calves weren’t up to par.  After losing, he cut off the bottom of his sweatpants below the knee.  He did this to be constantly reminded what he needed to work on to be better.  The rest is history.  He was honest with himself and took ownership.

So, as you prepare for yet another day of work, look deeply into that mirror.  What are you going to do to get better for you and for your company?  Are you being totally honest with yourself and your employees?  Push yourself, find that higher gear and make it your new normal.  As for me, I practice what I preach – I’m going riding….