Friday, November 22, 2019

Do What You Do Best and Forget the Rest

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP

In our fast-paced and fad-rich world we live in today, I see many companies (and individuals, for that matter) try “this” one week and “that” the next week. They attempt to be overly accommodating and then drastically different, in hopes of finding or becoming the next big thing. Being innovative, agile and trying new ways of doing things is definitely important and a skill we should try to continue to get better at; however, adopting “the latest hype” or going down an untested path can cause a considerable cloud of confusion. A lack of clarity is no small issue and can foster an abundance of uncertainly and a whole lot of stress—which can lead to decreased happiness, productivity, value and revenue, among many other unwanted outcomes.

For example, a colleague of mine wants to find a new job and decided to look for an opportunity in a specific industry she has worked in before, just a different role. Good idea! But then the following week, she decided to shift her focus to a completely new path, resembling the opposite of her strengths and even working knowledge, in an effort to “do something exciting and new.” Three months passed and still no new job offers emerged. Bad luck or bad strategy? I’d say the latter.

Focusing on doing what you do best is not only a valid personal strategy, but it’s also a sound business one. In fact, recently the biggest U.S. supermarket chain decided to scale back attempts to enhance sales with new products and renovated stores to be more competitive with Walmart and Target, which unfortunately led to 1000 job cuts last month. However, instead of continuing to do what they don’t do best, Kroger is reversing course on apparel, meal kits, etc. and getting back to what they know and excel at: selling groceries.

Hopefully this conscious shift works well for Kroger and the pendulum swings the other way. Some say the change took too long or wasn’t big enough; yet, others are very optimistic. Time will tell. I commend Kroger for deciding to now spearhead targeted innovative ideas but focus on doing what they do best. I hope this revised strategy brings them unprecedented success, as I know numerous people who are happily employed by that chain.

What do you do best? Whatever it is, you likely enjoy doing it, because we tend to love the things we rock at! 
Do what you do best and forget the rest.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Delaying the Sweet Taste of Indulgence

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP

Have you ever wondered why you make some of the decisions that you do? I believe one significant factor that influences one choice over another is a human desire to move toward pleasure and avoid pain. By pleasure I mean things that create feelings of happiness, strength, optimism, energy, or inspiration. With pain, I am referring to feelings of anger, confusion, helplessness, frustration, or even boredom. If you are regularly able to demonstrate self-discipline by delaying pleasure or gratification, your chances for achieving success in life increase substantially. 

According to a landmark Stanford University study, children were provided one marshmallow and given the choice of eating it or waiting fifteen minutes and being rewarded for holding out with a second marshmallow. Some kids ate theirs right away. Others waited. But the study’s real significance came years later, when researchers discovered that the children who held out for the reward had become far more successful adults than the children who ate the first marshmallow immediately. This “marshmallow theory” was found to explain that the key difference between success and failure is not merely hard work or intelligence, but the ability to delay gratification.

If you are looking to delay gratification, like to save money now to be able to purchase a more desirable item in the future, here are five strategies to help you stand strong: 
  1. Be clear on your values and what matters most. Have a clear understanding of what is important to you and what you want to accomplish. When you realize these aspects, you are more likely to make choices that can help you achieve the goals and success you desire.
  2. Break down big projects/goals. Just like running, athletes train very differently for a sprint than a marathon. The long project will help you to learn about the process, setting mini-goals along the way, and ongoing persistence.
  3. Offer visual progress. Use a jar of marbles or some sort of visual tool to demonstrate working toward a goal and making progress versus giving yourself a huge reward after accomplishing a task. Once the jar is full, then you get to reward yourself.
  4. Get an accountability partner. Just like it is often times easier to workout with a buddy so that you both are less inclined to stop because you know the other person is counting on you, sharing your plan and progress with an accountability partner can help maintain your focus and discipline.
  5. Frequent reflection. When you find yourself struggling with wanting something now and you’re about to cave in, stop to consciously reflect as to why you are feeling more vulnerable than usual. Try to pinpoint the motivation and reasons behind this strong craving. This time spent in reflection just may be enough to break the cycle of “now” and allow you to postpone the pleasure. 
Delaying gratification can be hard-work. Depending on what you want to achieve, it may take weeks, months, years, and sometimes even decades. And even if you don’t always make the best choices, hopefully you learn from the poor ones and appreciate the good ones. As I contemplate my life, I know that when I exercise self-discipline to delay an indulgence or an instant pleasure, I reap the sweet rewards. I tend to appreciate it more, feel a greater sense of accomplishment, and achieve a more successful outcome. Hold it, smell it, or even lick it, but don’t gobble the marshmallow yet.

Personal Challenge: What areas in your life do you feel you need instant gratification and find it difficult to delay? What other strategies do you have for delaying gratification?