Thank God It's Monday!® Blog

As if your life depended on it

Years ago I had a friend with a crazy sense of humor and a vivid imagination. He was also absolutely reliable—never missed a deadline, and always delivered precisely what was needed.

I finally asked him for his secret. “If I don’t finish on time,” he said in a whisper, looking both ways, “They’ll push the button.”

Ooooh-kay. I slid a little further away from him and asked what on Earth he was talking about.

He laughed and explained. Whenever he was on an impossible deadline, he imagined he was in one of those implausible movie situations. Some unseen bad guys have planted a device in his body and instructed him to meet the deadline or…they’d push the button.

“I don’t know what happens if they do,” he said, “but I don’t want to find out.”

He doesn’t really believe this, just in case you are wondering. He’s just playing his version of a mental game that really works. Act as if your life depends on it, and you can do just about anything.

How would everything you do be different is you acted as if your life depended on doing it, and doing it well?

If your life depended on it, could you get your weekly report in on time? If your life depended on it could you hit your targets? If your life depended on it, could you get that new product out on time?

The answer, in every case would be “Of course!” Because you decided up front to make it happen, based on the level of stakes.

So why not bring those high stakes into your mental game every day? By tempting yourself with a reason that is bigger than life, you trick your brain into finding ways to do things instead of ways to not get the result. Everything becomes possible.

The ultimate question

Business strategist Fred Reichheld wrote a landmark book on what he calls The Ultimate Question—“How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?”

By asking this question to customers and employees, companies can quickly learn who is a promoter, who is neutral, and who is detrimental to the well being of a company.

Those who answer the question with a nine or ten are considered “promoters,” people who help ensure the profits, growth, and overall health of a company. Sevens and eights are neutral. But if someone answers the question with a one through six, that person is a detractor, someone who will do harm to a business.

Everyone’s job in any company is to make sure that every customer is a nine or ten, and if not, to put a massive corrective action plan in place to make sure that customer moves into that zone of full support.

It also goes without saying that every staff member needs to also be in the nine to ten range. If you aren’t a promoter of the company you’re a part of, be a positive force to improve things, to make it a place you can be proud of. If that just isn’t possible, it might be time to consider moving on to a company you CAN fully support.

Motivation is a racket

Motivation is a racket! Let me tell you what I mean by that. We say, “I’m not feeling motivated right now” because of this or that outside circumstance.

If motivation is something that relies on the circumstances around you, it’s not worth a nickel. You become a slave to things you can’t control, a puppet of your environment. If all you want is an excuse, you’ll be all set.

But if you want a happier, more productive life, you need a better way of meeting the world.

What you need is not motivation but inspiration. If I choose to make things happen, regardless of circumstances, that’s when transformative results begin to happen.

I saw this in action a few weeks ago when I was going through airport security. There were two guys from TSA working next to each other. One was like a surly robot. He was completely unmotivated, entirely in the control of his circumstances, counting the hours and minutes until the end of his shift, and making sure that everyone around him suffered right along with him.

But the other guy, wow! Same circumstances, same number of hours until the end of the shift, and he was blowing me away with his decision to be extraordinary. He greeted each person like a long-lost friend, joked, laughed, and still got his job done. But in the process, he managed to make airport security the best part of my day.

At some point this man had decided, “I’m gonna have a hoot every day, and at the end of every day I’ll know I made a huge difference in people’s lives.”

So forget motivation. Find the inspiration to make that difference, every day.

Internal customer service

When most people picture a customer, they naturally think of the person who buys a company’s products and services. Making that person’s life better and easier is a great way to think of customer service.

But what about internal customer service—the way employees interact with and support others in the company? The best companies make sure their internal customer service is on par with their external customer service.

Suppose you work in IT and somebody’s computer is down. Now they can’t deliver great external service. You might make it your own goal that “No one will be down more than one hour.” Internal service supports external service.

Internal customer service also sets the tone for employee engagement. Each phone call from a colleague should be answered with the same courteous, “How may I help you?” language and tone that external customers receive.

This also has a huge impact on employee engagement. We are the face of the company to each other. If we see a cold and uncaring face when we interact with other employees, we will each naturally come to see the company itself as cold and uncaring. It’s hard to stay engaged in your work when you see your company in that unflattering light.

Engagement is tied directly to productivity, of course, so It’s not just a matter of being “nice.” Upping your internal customer service game can make the difference between a company that founders on the rocks and smooth sailing.

Get the chip off your shoulder

I’m willing to bet that everyone reading this has known someone with a massive chip on their shoulder. Maybe you’ve even been that person, who knows?

Well, you probably do—and those around you definitely do.

Have you ever noticed that people who walk around with a chip on their shoulder don’t seem all that eager to knock that chip off? They nurture it like a beloved child. As long as the chip is there, they can say “Woe is me” and embrace the victim role because someone has hurt them.

People can’t make you feel bad. You do that to yourself by interpreting their intent and keeping that chip where it is. We all do it—but it isn’t good for anyone.

Instead, change your interpretation of that remark or action that hurt you. There’s a good chance you can see it in a different light, one that helps you climb up out of that hole.

Better yet, talk directly to the person, even if it’s the CEO of the company. More often than not, you’ll find that the intention was not what you thought. Clear, honest, authentic communication benefits everyone.