Win in the Age of Noise & Distraction (NKBA Keynote)

May 25, 2018

We live in a noisy world. Can you even remember what it was like to be bored? So often, I talk with people who get to the end of their day and wonder what they even did. We are busier than ever, but busyness does not equal productivity. I think we all understand the difference. The problem is that we live in a state of constant distraction.

I recently spoke to a group of designers about this and talked about the answer to distraction is intentional focus. In fact, there are two behaviors that you can employ that will set you up to win in the age of noise and distraction. They come from the book, “The Four Disciplines of Execution”. Forewarning, these things are not normal (and that’s really good), normal people aren’t disciplined enough to win in their businesses.

Set Wildly Important Goals

This seems simple, but we rarely do it. Sure, we might set goals, but are they really “Wildly Important”? Very often, people sandbag their goals for fear of failure or wanting to guarantee job security, but this kills productivity and innovation. Simply put, if it’s not a Wildly Important Goal (WIG), don’t set it- it’s just extra noise that you don’t need in your life.

Here is the criteria for setting WIG’s: 

Set no more than three goals at any one time- in my business, we have two. Any more than this and our brains can’t stay focused. The second thing is that they must be objectives that would never happen on their own. The example I give in the video is that construction is booming in our market and everyone is slammed right now. So a goal of 10% company growth may not be a WIG if it would happen on it’s own. If you’re in a busy market as well, your WIG might have to do with growing margin dollars 7% or winning a certain number of “prime” jobs that are low time and high profit- either way, you are now setting goals that will seriously move the needle in your business.

Act on Lead Measures, Not Lag Measures

This point changed my life and it has made a radical impact on my business. We have always been taught to set goals like “Sell ‘X’ amount of Dollars in October”. But here is the problem on taking steps to achieve that: by the time October finishes and you know what you sold, it’s too late to do anything about it- the measure “Lags” behind. Lag measures aren’t bad (in fact they are critical to your business), but by the time you find out how you did, you can’t do anything about it. This is where “Lead” measures make all the difference in the world.

A “Lead” measure is a behavior that you believe will move the needle in achieving your “Lag” measure (most WIG’s are “Lag” measures by the way). Now, there are two tests that a “Lead” measure needs to pass: First, a “Lead” measure needs to be predictable. You need to be able to predict confidently that this behavior will move the needle on your Wildly Important Goal. Second is that it must be controllable, if you don’t have control over this behavior then there is no guarantee that you can even do it often enough to be successful.

The example that I give in the video is in a situation where the WIG is: “Sell ‘X’ Amount of Dollars in October”. Now, it might be tempting to make your “Lead” measure: “Quote 8 customers per day”, but that doesn’t work. Sure, it’s predictable in that it would move the needle in sales, but it’s not controllable because you have no control over how many people come into your business.

A better “Lead” measure might be “Quote 80% of the customers in my store every week in October”. That is predictable of success and it can be controlled by your team.

In the rest of the video, I talk about how these intentional steps will grow your business like crazy and rally your team along the way. I also get into how goal setting and time blocking frees up capacity for you to work intentionally on tasks that will grow your business.

Zig Ziglar is famous for saying: “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time”

Remember that in your business this week.

Check out the video to learn what you need to take control and win in the age of noise and distraction. Also, let me know how these ideas are working your business by leaving a comment below.