The words of Steve Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell, at his funeral service struck me. Brent Schlender recounts the moment in his book “Becoming Steve Jobs.” She said, “He shaped how I came to view the world. It is hard enough to see what is already there, to remove the impediments to a clear view of reality, but Steve’s gift was even greater; he saw clearly what was not there, what could be there, what had to be there. His mind was never a captive of reality. Quite the contrary. He imagined what reality lacked, and he set out to remedy it.”
These words were inspiring to me because of their epic sense of possibility with the work that is being done at Mace Security International. The leadership team believes that we are in the first inning of an ambitious plan of profitable growth and prosperity for all of our stakeholders and are deliberately building a team with a culture code that is anchored by our mission of ensuring safety and peace of mind in our community.
Much like any other new team, we sometimes tend to feel defeated and say, “Oh, that idea is never going to work.” Or, “That 100 percent on-time delivery and quality goal is impossible to achieve.” Our revenue grew by 43 percent last year, while our plant workforce more than tripled at one point. And as with other companies, that growth came with growing pains, especially with regard to our ability to deal with uncertainty and self-doubt. Stress arose. Cynicism and self-protection appeared in our daily language. Growth is uncomfortable. And doubt can be a goal killer if left unmanaged.
These limiting thoughts have left me wondering. What are we fighting inside our heads when we are in self-doubt? What, exactly, are we resisting? Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of inability? We are all seemingly enslaved by these types of beliefs. The fact is that these beliefs are often false or, at best, half-truths. It is easier not to pursue an idea that is seemingly difficult than it is to reframe our context and reconsider other options to realize our goals.
Adam Grant, author of several books, including “Think Again,” calls this problem “cognitive laziness.” What if we could change our sense of what’s possible? What if we could reframe our assumptions about goals that are “impossible” to achieve? This type of thinking is not easy to resolve and requires discipline and consistent habits.
Here are a few ideas that I’ve found to be effective.
- Reflect on your limiting beliefs with your team. Do the same exercise for every team member. Write those limiting beliefs down. Understand each other’s values and motivators. Reframe those beliefs by coming up with different beliefs that apply to you and your team members. Review your written reframed beliefs and reorient to those revised beliefs daily.
- Celebrate small wins. Small wins can alter one’s motivation in a meaningful manner.
- Focus on the “what” first. Don’t focus on the how or the lack of resources; that will get figured out when the “what” is as clear as daylight. Rebecca Morgan, author of “Manufacturing Mastery,” says that the perceived lack of resources is not the reason for failure to achieve goals.
As Muhammad Ali famously declared, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wears you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Find your pebble.
Sanjay Singh is executive chairman of the board of directors of Mace Security International