President’s Article: November

It seems we have officially entered Winter and she gave us a clear welcoming and fierce arrival. If you guys have been reading these every month you know from last year, I like to enter winter with a goal of refining and growing my business. For me life starts to slow down and I have more time to think through some of the challenges we faced through this year and set goals and a framework of how to fix these and how to excel in what we do. Instead of letting off the gas we use the momentum of summer to propel us into laying the foundation of an even better year the following. A constant progression forward of trying to be better in the products and services we put out into the world. This shouldn’t seem like a never ending and daunting task but an exciting opportunity to push the boundaries and serve our customers better. To think through what we believe in and want to accomplish, at the root of what we do, and then go do just that.
I just finished Phil Knights book “Shoe Dog” and there were two quotes that stuck out to me. One of them was a quote from Phil where he says, “when you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.” This is a version of something we have probably all heard many times but a good reminder of the lens you view your work space with. As business owners, managers, and employees I think we can all get too caught up in the thought that we just fix problems every day. Though this sometimes feels very true we can look at it differently. What if instead we said we get to “come up with solutions and grow in how we perform every day.” Or we looked at the positive things happening around us and expanded and focused on those. Not drawing attention to and focusing on the problems but getting the chance to make them opportunities. Opportunities to make our jobs easier, our customers experiences more enjoyable, and our productivity more efficient. A “problem” is just an operational item in your store that hasn’t been very well thought out or you haven’t created a good system for. So take some time as you have time to make those areas that you thrive. If all you see is problems you need to pause and address them in ways that create long-term changes, now that you have some time it’s a good opportunity to do just that.
The other quote that stuck out as I was reading this was, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” This was re-said by Phil Knight but originally quoted from George S Patton (Phil was a big history buff). For me this is one of the most important aspects of being able to step away from your business and also enjoy your life. Something I believe in completely. It is the faith to give people autonomy in their work and trusting them to do a good job. Seeing the potential in people and allowing them to do the job you are asking off them. Trust but verify. This doesn’t have to be a high paid manager or administrative level staff member. This can be a minimum wage employee, a trusted shift lead, whoever in whatever position. Of course good systems and documented ways of performing tasks is important and I’m not at all suggesting to not give people specific and consistent ways of doing things, but don’t be afraid to challenge people with new ideas and work. Take work that you might need offloaded as you are working through ways of making your business better and give them to others and let them surprise you with what they come up with.
Have a great November and say hi if you see me around,

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