Focus on these four points to improve yourself and your business.

istockphoto of New Year's 2012

Here we are in December 2011 already! Hollywood has made 2012 out to be a pretty important year; isn’t the world supposed to end or something? I’m sure you have seen the funny cartoons about how the Mayans simply ran out of space when creating their calendar that ends in 2012. Humor aside, we are heading into a new year full of exciting opportunities.

At year’s end, we have the tendency to reflect upon the past 12 months, start to work on our New Year’s resolutions, and talk about how quickly time seems to pass. I’m going to challenge that line of thinking this month and discuss how we can move forward rather than looking back.

I have a good friend who was an all-star high school football player, went on to play college football, then had his career cut short due to a knee injury. Fast forward to the present day. He still loves football and lives vicariously through his sons, who compete at the high school level. He hardly misses a local high school football game. I appreciate his passion for the sport, but as his other friends and I repeatedly tell him: “Put away the yearbook!”

What we mean is that it’s time for him to stop living in his football days or through his children and get on with living his current life and present reality. What about you? Is it time you “put away the yearbook” when it comes to your 2011 results? I talk to contractors all over the country on a weekly basis, and the overall consensus is that everyone is ready to put 2011 behind them and move on with 2012. So I ask again, “What about you?”

Focus on success

Let’s swing into the New Year with a renewed vigor and commitment to doing something differently than we did this past year. Many factors comprise bringing your best, and I want to share a few strategies I teach my clients and incorporate into my own life. As leaders, our company-wide results are a direct reflection of our personal behavior. Let’s examine a few things we can do in order to bring our best in 2012.

  • Control your attitude. As W. Clement Stone wisely said, “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” Successful people are simply better at controlling their attitudes than unsuccessful people.

    If you’re going to bring your very best, it takes a certain level of consciousness in order to maintain the correct mindset. Since your results in business and life are simply the product of your thoughts, decisions and actions, we must be consistently aware of what attitude we’re bringing to the office each day.

  • Be fully engaged. There is no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work. What I’m talking about is complete engagement in your roles and responsibilities at your company. Too many contractors simply log their time each day, becoming glorified “clock punchers.” They don’t seem to have passion and drive for the business anymore, but continue going through the motions because it’s all they know.

    Instead of treating your position as a “job” that requires your time, view it as purposeful work you get to be engaged in. Your physical presence at the office is not enough; you also need to have mental presence. Reignite that excitement and drive for your daily activities, focus on the specific goals you want to accomplish, and then give it everything you have.

  • Make an effort to improve. This might sound a bit crazy coming from an industry expert, but I am constantly noticing a lack of motivation and a minimal desire to improve in this business. I’m not sure exactly why this is happening, but I know one huge factor is contractors don’t want to feel stupid. We are professionals, and we’ve spent thousands of hours and dollars learning how to be excellent tradespeople.

    This is admirable, but many of us have a difficult time investing the time and money necessary to become better business people, sales people, leaders and marketers. These are the skills that separate the incredible companies from the ordinary ones. Make a conscious decision and commit to improving your business skills in the coming year.

  • Expect the best. Too many people believe their best days are behind them. We need to examine our outlook and focus on accomplishing the goals we have set at the company. I remember when I was by myself in the truck, running every service call. I wanted nothing more than to “get out of the truck” and be able to work on the business in an office environment.

    Many people told me I couldn’t do this as quickly as I did, but I expected the best. Due to my positive expectations, I was able to remove myself from the field far more quickly than the average contractor at that stage in my business. This is true whether you want to get out of the truck, hit the 100-employee mark (as one of my clients did recently), or accomplish a lofty goal. Expect the best!

    As contractors, we have numerous things demanding our attention daily. Be protective of your time. Only so many hours exist in the day, and how you spend them is critical to your success. As we bring another year to a close, let me ask you one more question. “Did you get a new year of experience during the past 12 months?”

    Just because you’ve been in business for 20 years doesn’t automatically mean you have 20 years of experience. It could mean you have had the same year of experience 20 times in a row!

    Do something differently in the coming year. Bring your best to the game of business. Focus on the four key points we’ve discussed, keeping them in the forefront of your mind in the New Year. You are a leader in your business and people need strong, positive leadership now more than ever.

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