Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

Leadership Blog

Control, Influence, or Cannot Change

Many of you work in organizations that you KNOW need to change. There are glaring, critical aspects of the business that need to be overhauled, yet certain people refuse to do so. I know this, you and I talk…I like our discussions. In order to be competitive in 2010 and beyond, many strategies and actions need to change. This is a repositioning year for many businesses. Remember that as the economy improves, we must position ourselves to take advantage of future opportunities. If you are not positioned correctly, opportunities can be missed and, voila, you are behind the eight-ball. The predicament is: we typically cannot change everything that we believe needs changing. The desire to change things, coupled with the inability to do so can lead to a maddening work life. As such, I have created a simple, yet effective, grid for you to consider in your work world. Take a step back from your situation and attempt to look at your business, department, etc. in an objective way. As you do so make a list of items that you can control (i.e., change to your liking), items that you can only influence, and things that you cannot change. Then focus on, you guessed it, the areas which you can control or influence. Acknowledge the areas that you cannot change and live with them. I have summarized this exercise in the table that appears below. Give it a try and see if it doesn’t elevate your level of focus and reduce your psychosis.      

Control

Influence

Cannot Change

Things, people and actions you can control and change. Focus on these!

Things, people and actions that you can influence, not control. Devote some of your attention to these areas.

Things you cannot change. They are what they are. Be aware of them and their impact, but do not stress about them or waste your time on attempting to change them.   

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-01-31 at 02:34 PM
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A Decade Lost?

Many investment analysts are looking at the results of stock indexes over the past ten years and bellyaching that this is the first decade where the S&P 500 lost money. Further, they imply that the average investor lost wealth in the past ten years. The wealth that they should be worried about is the amount of wealth that the United States shipped offshore - mainly to China. That’s right, over the past ten years in our quest to have cheaper toys, mostly meaningless manufactured items, and an array of plastic junk, the U. S. has exported trillions of dollars to China. Isn’t it interesting that the meteoric rise of China as a world and financial power coincides with the decline of the U.S.’s financial impact and caché? Then, to make matters worse, when we mismanage our national financial system, we relied on China to buy our debt – with our money. My goodness, the Chinese must think we are off our rocker. Now I am all for free-trade, a protectionist stance in this world economy is a ridiculous proposition. However, living with a large trade gap (i.e., shipping our wealth offshore) is not a bright idea. Here are two things we need to do right away:

  1. Innovate. Interestingly, innovation is one of the factors that brought us out of broad recessions in the past. With the lack of innovation from Bell Labs, Xerox’s Parc and the like, innovation will be a tough one for us. Certainly Apple is trying to do their part, and the science department at Stanford (recent stem cell breakthroughs) is trying to do theirs, but we need broader innovation nationwide. In sum, there is great opportunity out there for both crafty entrepreneurs and behemoths like GE to take risks with some investment dollars and invent a wave of unique product lines for the world to embrace. Note: we need authentic innovation that comes from capitalistic intent, not artificial innovation that comes from governmental set-asides. 

 

  1. Educate. By and large, our national school system is broken. Okay, there are pockets of good public schools in Kansas, Minnesota, and Palo Alta, but these are, unfortunately, the exceptions. Stop bellyaching about poor education! The national lower-education quality will not change soon enough to meet our national needs. This means it is up to us. That’s right, YOU. What I mean is the following:
    1. If you have children, nieces, nephews, etc., proactively teach them what they need to know in order to be competitive in the world economy. This means they must be multi-lingual, and have unbiased knowledge of the REAL history of our nation (i.e., a clear understanding of our founding fathers and the values they embraced). In addition, they must be cracker-jacks with science and math. That’s right folks, come up with some creative and fun home science projects. Try cooking, there is a lot of chemistry involved (just ask Alton Brown of the Food Network).
    2. Teach others. Seek to coach at the YMCA or the Boys & Girls Clubs. Use your personal impact and charisma to help youngsters embrace real role models. In the process, seek to open their eyes to the wonders of learning, and the healthful benefits of good nutrition.  

 

Here is the bottom line folks: we are sitting on the sidelines watching our country deteriorate. Take charge. We have all the tools we need. Our parents and the wonderful teachers from our past taught them to us.           

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-01-30 at 07:50 AM
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Survival Cache

Congratulations, you have made it to 2010. Many economists are predicting that this year will hold economic growth and will officially usher us out, what has been, a nasty recession. Whether you have flourished or merely survived over the past two years, you have what I call Survival Cache. In other words, you and your business have shown the intestinal fortitude, the resources, and the grit to weather a storm that took out quite a few businesses. Years from now you will be able to boast to people, “Yep, my business made it through the financial crisis of aught eight and aught nine.” So during 2010, wear your survival cache as a badge of honor. Small business owners in particular should do this. Boast about your perseverance, you deserve it.

 

Now go out there and make some solid business calls. And as you garner more business, keep delivering on your promises – your keen actions and terrific implementation helped you navigate a storm, big time!

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2010-01-01 at 03:46 PM
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