I once heard R&B legend Stevie Wonder proclaim that “a whole lotta little makes a whole lotta lots.” While his statement would have made my Grade 10 English grammar teacher Mrs. Henry cringe, Stevie’s heart was in the right place as he was referring to the power of donating to the Haitian earthquake relief fund during a telethon a few years ago.
While the power of small things that add up to much bigger things is evident in charitable fundraising, it is also particular relevant to the process of daily productivity and the achievement of success. What I am talking about is the series of small, daily actions that we take that can pay massive dividends (or result in epic failure) over the long haul — habits.
Out with the old….
If you’ve ever decided to eat healthier, quit smoking or cut back on your TV time, you know how ingrained our habits can be. And while negative, self-limiting habits such as unhealthy food choices, negative thinking, procrastination or too many after-party Pinots can certainly wreak havoc on your health or business, it’s a relief to know that creating new, positive habits is a relatively simple process (but not necessarily an easy one).
Psychologists and self-improvement gurus say that it takes about 21 days to create a new habit. All it requires is consistent, daily, repeated actions that can eventually be routinized and embedded into our subconscious minds. The end result is to have an easily repeatable behavior that we do without even having to think about it.
Repeated daily action
For those of us in the meetings and events industry, think about how much more success we might have if we were to adopt a few new habits into our daily routine. These habits could involve such areas as marketing (how many Tweets can I post today? Have I sent my Thank You cards or emails for the last event yet? Have I made my three daily prospecting calls for new business?), personal growth (i.e. 30 minutes of non-fiction reading on a topic relevant to the meetings industry) or business development (i.e. routine bookkeeping or accounting matters that can become troublesome if they build up). I’m sure you get the idea.
Although not specifically geared towards meetings professionals, Stephen Covey’s wonderful book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People contains some terrific advice for development of what I would call “meta-habits” or those habits that, if developed and nurtured, can have a positive effect on many areas of our lives. Here they are in a nutshell below, with a brief suggestion of how they might apply to the meetings industry.
- Be Proactive: Be a person who takes action rather than waiting for things to happen. Being proactive and anticipating virtually every possible outcome is a hallmark of every successful meeting planner.
- Begin with the End in Mind: From budgets to F&B, having clearly defined goals is essential in almost every facet of planning.
- Put First Things First: Or, even more simply, prioritize. Should be a no-brainer for any successful planner.
- Think Win-Win: Not only do planners have to consider how the event will impact the client, they also have to be mindful of the results on delegates, stakeholders and even their own planning goals and roles. Thinking win-win at all stages benefits all parties.
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Listening first and speaking second seems like a sensible idea to most of us. Making it a habit will bring great results.
- Synergize: Once the first five habits have been adopted and ingrained in a daily way of thinking, the next step is naturally to bring them all together in a way that benefits clients, sponsors, stakeholders and planners equally.
- Sharpen the Saw: Practice makes perfect. Continue to work on the above habits on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Your clients and your accountant will thank you!