The most important thing to remember now a simple sentence: “It’s not for you.”
So you run an Indian restaurant on 6th Street in New York and you have a $24 spicy vindaloo, if you finish it you get it for free, it’s that spicy.
And someone comes to the restaurant and says, “I hate spicy food,” it’s really obvious what you should do, and it’s not take it off the menu.
It’s saying to that person “Vaselka, Ukrainian food, is two blocks away, nothing in the restaurant is spicy, here’s their phone number, thanks for stopping by.”
“What I sell is not for you.”
Being able to do that is hugely powerful.
So I look at the 100 most loved books ever written, all of them have more one-star reviews on Amazon than any book I’ve ever written – all of them. Because if you’re going to write To Kill A Mockingbird or Harry Potter a lot people are going to read it, and if a lot of people are going to read it, some of them are going to need to say, “It’s not for me.” And the way they do that is by writing a one-star review.
But Harper Lee shouldn’t have read her one-star reviews because it’s not going to make her a better writer tomorrow. All it says is “I don’t like spicy food.”
The starting point is to understand what capabilities you have that others will value, that you can use to create value for others.
And then to find the opportunities for those capabilities that will create the most opportunity for others and particularly those who will reward you for that value.
So the ideal for business is to maximise the value that you create for others, and your profit would come solely as compensation for that value you’re creating for others, and then to continually improve and add to those capabilities, and look for, based on that, what other opportunities are there for which you can create superior value.
So there are two components then: one is to become preferred partner for all your key constituencies. That starts with customers but includes employees, suppliers, communities and society as a whole.
And the second piece is to continually transform yourself. So our philosophy is if we in a business or you as an individual are working in an area, if you’re the best in the world, it’s not good enough. And particularly today, with rapid improvements in technologies within year or wo you’re going to be obselete if you just rest on your laurels. So you’ve got to be constantly thinking on how do I improve, how do I do things differently, what are the new opportunities.
If we’d just stayed with the crude oil gathering… we’d be out of business now. It’s by applying these principles of human flourishing to create these beneficial cycles focusing on how do I create value for all my constituencies – particularly those who will reward us for the value we create for them – is what has enabled us to do what we’ve done.
And do you trust that the people you’re following can get you there?
Have they been there before?
Has anyone been there before?
For interesting work, there probably isn’t a map of the route, so you’ll looking for:
If you’re asking someone to do something for you, an appropriate spec goes a long way.
A good spec saves everyone time and effort* and demonstrates that you value the work and other people’s time and energy.
You might include answers to the following questions:
- Big picture, what needs to happen?
- Why is it important – what will doing this thing achieve?
- What are the details that you need to specify? (Mainly focused on the outcome. This will vary depending on the task, the skills of the person doing the job and your relationship to them – i.e. what can you take on trust – but must include anything that would cause you to reject the product.)
- What are the details you don’t care much about? (Probably about the process.)
- What suggestions or resources can you provide?
- When should it finished by?
- Who is responsible for getting this thing done?
The last question is critical – it’s really easy to hand over a task and still have it be your responsibility. In which case you will be the one filling in the holes and chasing up last details, which defeated the point of getting help in the first place.
*Perhaps that should read “a good spec given to a competent person, where competence includes knowing how to read, follow and question the spec where needed.”
Introduce yourself: who are you, what do you do, and why is it important?
I’m John and I’m the National Field Director at the Christian Medical Fellowship (www.cmf.org.uk) in the UK. I’m a paediatrician by training and combine that with my work with CMF. I head up our fieldwork with students, nurses and doctors to unite and equip them to live and speak for Jesus Christ in healthcare. My passion is leadership development in areas such as parenting and children, apologetics, global healthcare, advocacy and the day in day out work in healthcare. Medicine is at the interface of questions such as ‘what does it mean to be human’ and seeing Christians discipled in this area is key as we compassionately care for others and share the gospel with them.
What’s your most valuable skill?
I’m a starter and talent spotter. Starting programmes, training cohorts and inspiring people with the big picture vision is my passion. A bit like a number 10 on the football pitch, I get a kick out of helping others understand why they are on this planet.
Describe a tool, technique or practice that makes a difference to your work.
What we call High Impact volunteering. It’s harnessing a set of principles that govern how we recruit, select, equip and lead volunteer leaders. I truly believe that when you look after your leaders, when you envision and equip them, then the work looks after itself.
What advice do you most need to hear?
You try and do too much too fast and you’re on your way to burnout…again.
Suggest an endearing and humorous question for question number five – and answer it.
“What musical genre would you enjoy performing if you were a global superstar?” I have to admit, whatever Michael Bublé sings.
One last thing – suggest one or two people you know whose answers you’d like to read, and who you think would enjoy answering.