By Tony Ford
Ford Leadership Solutions
What will inspire you in 2017? Every year about this time, I take some time to think about what the past year has been all about, how my business is doing right now, and what I want to accomplish going forward.
Sometimes, if the past few months have been really challenging, I come to this process tired, burned out and uninspired. Maybe you do too.
It is at times like this that it is important to dig down deep and ask the very serious question: “Why do I own a company, and what am I trying to accomplish with it?”
For me, the eve of the holiday season provides the perfect backdrop to help me gain perspective, find meaning in what I do, and update my vision for our company’s future. Here is what I mean:
When early settlers came to this country, they almost did not survive. Harsh conditions, lack of food and disease relentlessly devastated their fledgling colony. Still, they worked together, made hard choices, problem-solved and took a decidedly entrepreneurial approach to dividing up the work until they began experiencing success. Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude that reflects back on how hard work and God’s provision came together to start the greatest experiment in freedom and free enterprise the world has ever seen.
When I reflect back on the meaning of Thanksgiving, I ask myself: “Do I lead my people and treat my customers and vendors with an attitude of real gratitude for what they do? If not, why not?
The Christmas holiday is filled with celebration, decorations and gift giving. But the very heart of Christmas (at least for Christians) is Emanuel – God with us. In other words, the birth of the Messiah, the Christ child sent from God to redeem a broken world. It is the fulfillment of a promise and the ultimate gift of a loving Father. It is also a reminder that the greatest gift we can give is to treat other people the way we would want to be treated.
As I ponder the true meaning of Christmas, I ask myself: “Do I make good on my promises to teach, support and encourage the people around me?” The privilege of leadership comes with an obligation to provide these gifts to others. If not, why not?
New Year's Day
While I am not a big fan of “New Year’s Resolutions,” the start of every new year reminds me that the future is a truly marvelous place filled with opportunity and, yes, obstacles. It is a chance to right wrongs committed out of ignorance or anger and to begin and even restart relationships. In the future, almost anything is possible.
Being a typical Type A, problem-solving entrepreneur, contemplating the new year is great fun. What is not so much fun is realizing that past decisions sometimes limit future opportunities. It is for this very reason that I ask the question: “What am I going to do differently this year so that future years hold even greater opportunity for me and my people?”
As leaders, I believe our actual “job” is to provide the tools and resources our people need to do their jobs. Consequently, taking advantage of some seasonal downtime to think about our past, present and future performance is critical to finding real opportunities and not re-living our past failures. It can also be the source for some real inspiration including:
Remembering the Power of Gratitude
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” As a leader, our expressions of gratitude truly become the gift that keeps on giving as its powerful goodwill ripples through our organization.
Realizing How Our People Protect Us
When we train our subordinates well, they take responsibility to correct mistakes before they become major problems. Often those mistakes originate with us. We should recognize and reward their efforts to protect us from our own bad judgments.
Resolving to Give Our Best Efforts
It is a given that we expect our people to give their best efforts to help our company succeed. It is just plain fairness that we should continually monitor our own attitudes and behaviors to ensure that we are modeling the same for them.
Reflecting Excellent Entrepreneurship
Sometimes we forget that we chose to grow our own business – nobody forced us into it. Consequently, our decisions and activities should reflect a strong desire to build excellence into every facet of our company. Keeping our focus on leading with excellence will produce a profit that far exceeds mere financial rewards. It will change the course of people’s lives forever!
If one of your goals in 2017 is to realize your potential as an Entrepreneur of Excellence, I encourage you to take some personal time during this holiday season to gain perspective and to become inspired. Also, it is great hearing how so many of you are using the principles I am sharing to help improve your businesses – keep the ideas and comments coming to [email protected].
I wish you, your family and your company a truly wonderful holiday season!
Tony Ford is an award-winning Fort Worth entrepreneur with a history of starting and growing industry-leading companies. He now helps other businesses grow and sell their companies. He also is program director for the 2017 FW Inc. Entrepreneurs of Excellence Awards program. Tony writes this column in each issue of FW Inc. Contact: [email protected]