Be faithful in small things…
…and we’ll be trusted with more and bigger things.
If we don’t have the big, important things we want in our business (or our life) then perhaps we need to look in the mirror and determine if we’re delivering on the smaller things.
Yesterday morning I was a presenting a seminar on Critical Non-Essentials. Some of the comments and questions got me thinking more deeply about this engaging and exciting ‘prospect conversion tool’ – which is how we billed the event.
What are non-essentials and why would they be critical? The ‘essentials’ in our business is our fundamental key offering. For a hairdresser, this would be competently cutting hair. For an accountant, it would be completing the annual accounts in an accurate and timely manner. How our hairdresser and our accountant answers the phone is not essential to their core offering. However, if and how their phone is answered, together with a host of other non-essential things, will influence our perception of them. The cumulative effect of those non-essential things will, consciously or subconsciously, determine if we let them cut our hair or add up our numbers. So, answering the phone courteously and efficiently may not be essential – but is critical. We’ll conclude something about how they’ll cut or hair or add up our numbers based on how the phone is answered. And that’s how numerous non-essential things influence how many prospects become customers – or not. Harsh but true.
Critical Non-Essentials are exciting because they are simple (but not necessarily easy to deliver consistently) and they can and should involve the whole team.
Whilst the concept is not new, the term Critical Non-Essentials (CNEs) was coined by Australian dentist Paddi Lund. Paddi’s book on the subject is an easy and good read.
My though is that if there are CNEs for a business then there are CNEs for us as business owners (or for whatever role we have). And that our own personal CNEs are more fundamental and more important than business ones.
How do we know what shape our personal CNEs are in? As with many things, let’s look at our results. Let’s look at what we’ve attracted to our business as a result of our past thoughts, decisions, behaviours, actions. Let’s look at our staff, our customers, our suppliers, our offices, our equipment, our performance. If they’re growing in number and stature and exceeding expectations – fantastic. If they’re less than they should be or could be then there’s probably only one place to look – at ourselves. We can look elsewhere but changing elsewhere is far harder than changing ourselves. Don’t blame others.
There may be a few short cuts to address this. But they don’t work really; certainly not in the long term. The only real answer is to go back to basics and start being faithful in the small things. We might use different words; faithful; trusted; integrity. But it’s fundamentally about doing the right thing in all situations, whether seen or unseen, whether it’s in our best interests or not.
So what might this mean practically? It’s certainly about keeping our promises – turning up on time (big one); keeping appointments; returning calls; delivering on-time in-full. It’s about being honest – taking the call (rather than being ‘in a meeting’); giving prompt feedback (even if it’s unpleasant); saying how we feel when we’re let down (even by a customer). It’s about thanking a staff member when they’ve done a good job; being specific about who we can help best rather than saying we can help everyone; admitting mistakes (straight away). It’s about proper priorities – putting family before work; staff before customers; health before wealth; issues before emails; learning before leisure. It’s about attention to detail (even unseen detail). It’s about common courtesies – pleases and thank yous. It’s about keeping ourselves fit and healthy and well-presented; it’s about being tidy and organized; it’s about being practiced and prepared.
The purpose of this blog post is to provoke though and stimulate ideas. It’s certainly not a definitive missive on ‘personal integrity’. So please do help by adding to the above list and share specifics as to what you believe constitutes being ‘faithful in small things’.
What I do know is that when we’re ready to take on more responsibility (and the rewards that come with that), more responsibility will show up. Today, be faithful in the small things.