What 12″ of snow can teach us about business and life

Forecasting – keeping an eye on the weather forecast is essential when living in rapid changing conditions.  A wise man said to me; “you can forecast the weather, but you can’t predict the weather.”  Watching the weather forecast, we didn’t know if we were getting 3, 6, 8 or 12 inches of snow.  In business, we need to watch the financial forecast.  Cash flow is the number one item at the top of the list for any CFO.  If there’s a dip in the revenue forecast, marketing teams need to ramp up communications, promotions and assets, sales teams need to be ready to prospect for business more aggressively in hand with the market team.  Understanding what the weather patterns are looking like, what’s trending so that we have the ability to adjust.  In life, the weather forecast is essential so you know what the possibilities may bring.  What type of clothing do I need for that trip to Florida in escape of the storm? “you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather, Mr. Jackson.”

Planning & Preparation – A great motto a mentor told me; “chance favors the prepared.”  This is true in many situations and circumstances.  Planning ahead upon review of the weather forecast will guide you in being ready.  Do I have everything I need to be ready for the storm ahead?  Are we prepared to handle a power outage?  Do we have the proper items in case of an emergency?  In business, planning is important in guiding the vision and mission of a company and its brand.  In strategic planning sessions, market research gives a team the insight, knowledge, information & intelligence to prepare its strategic objectives and pathways to maximize profits.  Another quote that I live by daily; “plan your work and work your plan.”  It’s a daily activity because plans do change.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst, but if your planning to handle the worst case scenario, then you will be prepared to be proactive at whatever life may bring.

Teamwork – As my wife and I were watching the forecast last night, we decided to shovel before the morning so it was easier when we woke up.  We decided to join efforts in the front of the house, and divide and conquer in the back.  We play off of each others strengths and stamina.  It makes our lives better in doing so and its a supportive way to communicate with one another.  In business, teamwork is great when your in synergy of one another.  A great team embraces each others strengths and weaknesses.  They strategize together and formulate a plan that works great as a whole.  Giving other team members the opportunity to rise up.  As the saying goes; “your only as good as your weakest member.”  Focus on balancing the team.  Help others in need and give credit where credit is due.  Superstar players know they need to be a team player.  If anyone singles themself out from the team, the job usually falls short from completion.  Another saying; “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Make sure to give your team ample time to play and have fun.  You create lasting bonds and team members work better when they get to know each other outside the normal working environment.

Tools – Has anyone ever said to you; “the right tool for the job.”  In this case, the tool set was shovels.  Before I began to shovel the snow, I stopped and did an inventory of the shovels I had in the garage.  I had a flat shovel.  A long head push shovel.  A scooper type shovel.  An ice chipper and an extra shovel in case any of the others broke.  If I would have attempted to use the long head push shovel to start, the weight of snow and its evenness would have broke the bottom of the handle.  If I would have used an ice chipper, it may take a week to finish.  If I used the flat shovel to begin, I would have been scrapper the slush and the weight would break the handle or my back.  I started with the most logical tool.  The right tool, which was the scooper.  It took the least amount of time and effort even with the snow drifts that were 2 feet high.  I scooped away the majority of the snow, then used the other shovels to finish the job.  In business, having the right tools are important in getting the job done.  There are so many tools to choose from, it can seem difficult on where to begin or knowing if you do have the right tools.  In experience and over time, we accumulate the knowledge in making good decisions about the tools we use.  Even more so, knowing which tools can get the job done efficiently and effectively.  Knowing that tomatoes are fruit is knowledge, knowing not to use them in the fruit salad is considered wisdom.  Take the time and be wise about the tools we acquire and master the craft of their uses.

Process – Understanding which shovel to use made the job easier.  Knowing the order in which to use the shovels is the process of getting the job done the right way.  There’s also the process in where to In business, processes are essential for everyone so they can do their job right.  Knowing which process falls in align with each part of the business is key for the ability to do training, quality control, innovation and maintaining a level of operational standards.  A friend said to me once; “Life is a process.”  That is very true.  Understanding the mechanics of that is important for our ability to grow and evolve.

Communication – “Hi sweetie, I’m going to be late because traffic is bad.  Can you make sure we have our snow jackets, boots, gloves and hats ready for the snow fall?  Also double check to see if we have enough food in case we are snowed in.  Thank you.”  Communicating with each other is very important as it breeds an open and healthy environment.  For one to expect something or assume something without communicating can be the makeup of something tragic.  In business, communications are everything.  We communicate in so many ways sometimes the context gets lost in translation.  Be mindful of the way your communicating and how it affects others on your team.  A scholarly professor suggested that I read a book called “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.”  Written by Marshall McLuhan coin a phrase “the medium is the message.”  If your not familiar with that phrase, its something very successful executives understand deeply and I highly recommend it.  With the digital age, we lose the meaning of our messages because we don’t understand deep enough for which medium they are channeled.  With iMessage, Skype, eMail, Social, and even video, always be mindful of how you are representing yourself in your ability to communicate.

Meditation – As I was shoveling, I stopped to breathe and calm myself from over exhausting my efforts.  I looked up to see the snow on the trees with sun rays beaming down highlighting its beauty in nature and had a moment of grandger.  Visualization, breathing, and focused silence techniques can be great skills for anyone looking to make improvements in an area.  Visualizing your day can prepare you mentally to tackle any situation.  Taking a moment or even 5 minutes to stop and focus on breathing can calm your nerves and even calm the committee in your head.  Yeah, they tend to talk a lot.  Breathing will also help the ability to release on things you might be holding in or holding back.  A focused silence is deep mediation, but I’ll save that for later.

Neighbors – I saw my neighbor shoveling and decided to go over and help her.  Knowing that she is a single mother with two kids, I lend my efforts to help her because she has responsibilities to her family that I don’t have yet (big emphasis on yet).  Its also being a good neighbor, plus its always a good conversation because she is a very smart person.

Reward Yourself – After two days of shoveling, I rewarded myself with a hot cup of coco with a few marsh mellows.  Aww, the small simple things in life can really make your day.  Rewarding your co-workers for a job well done is essential in creating a great culture.  Don’t hesitate to reward them on small victories because it all adds up over time.

So what does 12″ of snow teach us?  That it’s time to shop online for that next warm weather getaway.  :), oh, and to enjoy life no matter what the weather is.

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