The number one problem with business books, self-improvement programs, and even executive coaching is the excess of insights and ideas that could help, that would help, but do not help because the ideas do not produce action.
Here are the two most important methods that I, as a top executive coach, use with clients to help them get results with new ideas.
First, we have a detailed, concrete conversation about their daily habits and history of abandoned “good ideas.” We explore together and define simple, specific changes to their routine that will help integrate the new practice into their lives. For example, a client with a well-established habit of using his home gym immediately after arising in the morning hung a sign on the TV over his treadmill to remind him to meditate first.
Second, and even more powerful, is conversation. Any time you want to make a big step toward achieving your goals ask yourself, “Who could possibly help me with this?” Upon a moment’s reflection, you will see that virtually every outcome you most desire requires or could be supported by the actions of other people. Making requests, promises, and just generally talking about what matters to you are the most powerful techniques for getting results. Another client discussed with his staff their vision and ambitions for the business. They agreed on a few numbers to track so they would stay focused on doing the things that would realize their goals. He requested that his office manager place goal tracking “thermometers” over the coffee machine so everyone could be continually reminded of these important measures. [You can download a free, easy to use version of my Excel spreadsheet for generating this thermometer by clicking here.] Signs, charts, and objects are great ways to turn your hopes into achievements.
If you want to get good results get good at making requests.
A farmer is busy working a field with his tractor when he notices a young well-dressed man trotting toward him across the field. He is waving a thick book.. The farmer turns off his tractor and leans down to hear the salesman say, “Sir, this book contains all the latest, scientific, proven methods and techniques for the modern farmer. The ideas in this book will increase your productivity, profits, and even your leisure time.”
“Sorry, son.” The farmer says as gently as possible, “I’m not interested in your book.”
“But, sir! This book is filled with facts and instructions that will double your output for half the work. How can you turn it down?”
“I don’t doubt a thing you say. The problem is, I reckon I don’t farm half as well as I know how to now.”
You can do nearly anything but you can’t do nearly everything.