Drop the Dead Weight

Michael DiMedio, September 2018

Peter Drucker once said “There is nothing as difficult and as expensive, but also as futile, as trying to keep a corpse from stinking.”  What?  This is from a leading expert on business management.  How could stinking corpses relate to my business?  Unless you have already surpassed your goals for the year, read on to find out how.

Q4 is upon us and the opportunity to reach your 2018 year-end goals is growing ever more narrow.  If you are like most, you may have chalked the summer up to a slow time of year (“everyone is on vacation”) and rationalized your decelerating progress.  Perhaps you counted on a resurgence after Labor Day and justified your lagging results by looking to past years’ spikes in Q4.  Sound familiar?

As September winds down, you are faced with a choice:  either count on historical trends (i.e. hope it gets better) OR engineer your success. If you want to choose the latter, your first step is this:  get rid of the stinking corpses.  In other words, drop the dead weight that is holding you back.  As good as your business planning was at the beginning of the year, you don’t have to continue doing the same things if they aren’t yielding the right results for your business.  So, what to do?

Now is the time for brutally honest self-inspection.  What did you plan to do, have done, or are doing that simply isn’t working out the way you expected?  Once you identify those things – STOP DOING THEM.  Sound’s simple, right?  In reality, humans are subject to all sorts of cognitive biases that prevent us from seeing reality for what it is.  However, saying no to the things that aren’t actually serving you allows you to focus on, and lean into, your strengths.  Here are some examples of what might be getting in the way:

1. Yourself.  Getting mired in self-doubt, fear and denial.  Now is the time to identify the ways you might be holding yourself back.  This stuff is your kryptonite.

2. Distractions.  Your daily routines / systems / habits – are they goal-oriented?  Do they lead you to the results you want?  Or do they distract you from truly productive efforts?  Don’t just be busy – be productive.

3. The Dead or Dying.  Now is the time to identify the products, services, processes or markets that were well-intentioned, but haven’t worked out as planned. Systematically abandon the stuff that isn’t working so that you can: (a) focus on the things that are; and (b) create the new.

Q4 optimizers MUST take this moment to get the feedback required to tap into the reality of WHAT IS.  Not what should be – or what you hope it becomes. Identify the people who will give you direct, honest and candid feedback.  It may be a mentor, consultant, colleague or coach.  In the process, be prepared to learn from and then let go of the past and open your mindset to new possibilities.  Put new systems, habits and processes in place to identify and act on these new possibilities and then EXECUTE THEM RELENTLESSLY.  This is fundamentally reinventing yourself, your business and your fourth quarter results. Get to work!