The “Right” Way

By: Mark Belcher, Partner

I’ve been thinking about doing things “right” a lot recently.  And yes, I know that can go in many, many directions.  Often there are lots of ways to do any given task, and I firmly believe that smart people find ways to complete the job at hand, but let’s look at a couple of things that can influence “right”.

“Always make new mistakes”

The first thing I think about is what have I learned in the past that will help tackle this new problem.  What has worked, what hasn’t, and what have I never tried? These are all questions we ask ourselves when approaching a new problem set.  Sometimes we have a formal process, but usually we ask these questions without even realizing.  I am a firm believer that we must consider history when making decisions about the present and the future.  As a leader, if you focus on always making “new” mistakes and hold your teams to the same standard, I promise you that your “right” way tally will grow.

Dig where there are taters’

Begging the pardons of our non-southern friends, but I hope you will think about this little phrase for a second.  When a potato (i.e.,tater) farmer plants a crop in his field, it wouldn’t make much sense to look or dig for the spuds in his back yard…right? Stay with me…I know this is elementary stuff and I mean no disrespect, but the lesson is important.  If we know that our most important priority is to raise funds for a new Science Lab, but we are distracted by staff meetings, the School Auction, planning the menu for parents’ weekend…I think you get the picture…we aren’t keeping our eye on the ball or on this example, the taters. Whether you are the front line development professional or the Vice President of a huge operation, spend your time and energy focused on the important tasks and don’t be tempted by all the noise around you that by its very definition will impede your success.

You might be thinking, “no kidding Captain Obvious!” and wondering how am I better for taking 2.5 minutes to read this?  Maybe you’re already doing both of these things well.  I hope you are, but keep in mind that some of your co-workers are not.  If you can use these two little ideas as you go about your work and keep them in mind during staff meetings when you’re asking or being asked to participate in something that isn’t necessarily moving the ball down the field, I know you will find your work looking more and more like you’re doing things “right”.