“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol
Over the past few months, I’ve heard a lot of people start sentences with the words “I wish…”. They’re wishing something about COVID, or they’re wishing something about the supply chain, or they’re wishing something about the labor market, and on and on. Most of the things they’ve wished for, I’ve wished for too.
Most of those kinds of things, to a large degree, are beyond our control. Neither you nor I can single-handedly end a global pandemic, nor can we clean up the supply chain, nor can we instantly create additional labor. Some of those problems are simply more than we’re able to handle on our own.
But I also hear a lot of wishing about things that are not beyond our control. Specific things about customers, or products, or services, or people, or habits, or technology. Things that, as leaders, we have the ability to impact in a very meaningful way. And yet, for too many leaders, it just amounts to wishing, and five years from now they’ll still be wishing for those same things and nothing will have changed.
Think about your top five wishes for your business. Maybe there is a product that you don’t currently offer that you think needs to be part of what you provide your customers. Maybe there’s a role in your organization that needs to be created and filled. Maybe there is a new way to reach customers that you just tried yet.
Look at your list. Even just those five probably feel overwhelming. So prioritize. Which of those five would have the biggest impact on your business? Which of them would be the easiest to do? You can come up with whatever additional criteria you like, but I’d start with those two. Which of your wishes stands out? What’s the number one thing?
Think about that number one thing. What would be the first five steps you’d have to take to make that wish a reality? Write them down. Who would do those five steps? Write down specific names.
Now the hard part. Go talk to whoever these people are (maybe it’s you!) and explain what you need them to do and why. Give them a timeline and set up a schedule for follow up & accountability.
Obviously the last few paragraphs are a huge simplification, but the reality is that making change in your business doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It might not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. We make it more complicated than it needs to be, and that scares us, and then we don’t make change. And years later, time has passed and we’re still wishing for the same things.
Stop wishing and start doing. You can change things yourself, but you have to take that first step.