I've been doing what most entrepreneurs and CEOs are doing at this time of the year - reflecting on times past and attempting to prepare for times to come. As I read other blogs and watch the conversations on Facebook, I find myself heaving sigh after sigh.
Is there no originality in business, anymore? Is innovation truly dead? And, why do we promote 'famous quotes' that turn out to be (a) not famous and(b) not useful? You know you do it - sadly, I do it, also.
That led me to thinking about all the ways we humans try to influence others, with our words. I came to this conclusion - the myths we chase, the stories we believe, the ideas we want to share... are too often stale, uninspiring and false.
For instance: Don't take yourself seriously. That's a popular quote - it generates a lot of press. It creates its own myth - the myth of the happy workplace where the 'boss' loves everybody and everybody loves the boss. Hogwash.
If you don't take yourself seriously, who will? If you aren't serious about your business - and sometimes that means being serious about time off or events or family matters - you're just play-acting. Business is serious. It lends itself to being frivilous at times - but, even then, there is seriousness involved.
How about this: Family first. Yes, I know... you're bristling all over now. Truth is, we try to put family first as much as possible, but the myth of family first is a pie in the sky kind of idea.
If your business suddenly experiences a major disaster - let's say your PR Director says something stupid on Twitter... do you drop everything and run home for dinner...or do you stay around and fix the problem? Maybe get on Twitter and smooth things over as best you can.
If your website gets hacked and starts displaying porn, do you leave your tech admin in charge, to go to your kid's baseball game... or do you work alongside the tech admin and others, to make sure the world knows it's a mistake... a huge mistake! Yes, we all need to have those emergencies covered (professionals in place to handle them), but in the end, it's your business. You're at the helm. You don't stop during a storm and read a book to your 4year old cause it's his bedtime. You find other ways to compensate him for not being there.
Here's one that really annoys me: "Our company is agile..." . Agile? Really? Here's what agile means: Characterized by quickness, lightness, and ease of movement; nimble.
Agile involves movement. It's not characterized by a 'thing'... or a 'mindset'... yes, you can tweak it to fit your meaning - agile companies are able to get things done faster, so they say. Agile companies are flexible - they perform well under pressure. Agile companies - are what we all aspire to be. Yes? No! I aspire to be successful and I need to be able to make quick changes, but... that makes ME agile, not my company.
I just go bananas when I see companies described as agile. I am willing to allow you to say your people are agile. Hey, you can even prove it by holding sporting events and inviting clients to them. But, your company? Not hardly. Your company is... a thought, a process, a building, a location... none of which demonstrate the term agile in any way.
And last, for now, this popular little myth: Our people are our business!
Excuse me? What does that mean? Of course your business relies on people, in some way. Either they work for you or they're clients (customers). The business itself...is, whatever. My business is social media. It depends a great deal on people; people I know, and people I don't. I understand the premise of "My people are my business"... it attempts to give credit where credit is due. However, few companies actually believe that myth, support that myth, or follow its tenents.
But... people are not 'thing's and your company is and will ever be, a 'thing'. A non-living, non-breathing entity, without flesh, blood, or emotion.
There's a big problem with this entire post... do you know what it is? I challenge you to leave a comment and tell me what's wrong with my thinking on myths of the business kind.