“My company has lots of potential, but I just feel my employees are not engaged. If I don’t push, nothing seems to happen. I’m working night and day and we’re still missing 40% of our targets. I once dreamed of being a firefighter, I guess that dream has come true. All I do is put out fires, I have no time to focus on my business.”
“Xavier, I will be leaving the company by the end of next month.” With these words the best member of my team told me many years ago that she was leaving. She was extremely talented, had great potential, and was a cornerstone of my succession plan.
“But why?” I pleaded.
“Cash is key, and Elvis is the King!” kept asserting my trainer at this intensive 2-week long management consulting training 20+ years ago in the cold Boston winter. This was a twist on the famous “cash is king” motto – trying to convey to us non-Americans how much Elvis meant to him while emphasizing his important cash message.
With times as they are, cash seems to have taken back its throne for many small and mid-sized businesses.
Each time the New Year rolls around and I sit down to do my annual resolutions, I reflect back to a lesson taught me by a remarkable teacher. In my mid-20s, I took a course on creativity and innovation from Rochelle Myers and Michael Ray at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and I kept in touch with them after I graduated.
One day, Rochelle pointed to my ferocious work pace and said, “I notice, Jim, that you are a rather undisciplined person.”