An amazing event is going on above our heads, at least if we live in New Mexico, USA. At 36.000 meter (120.000 feet) a very brave guy called Felix Baumgartner is about to jump out of a stratospheric balloon. He is going to free-fall towards Earth and he is aiming to reach supersonic speed. This has never been done before. The old records that will be broken where set 1960 by Joseph Kittinger, a former US Air Force pilot.
I heard about this amazing record attempt on the radio the other day. What amazes me is that the reporters that were conducting the interview with someone from the Red Bull Stratos Team, were only focusing on what could go wrong. ‘Amazes’ is maybe a strong word, as I know that almost all news is bad news and has a tendency to focus on the negative side of every story.
The reporter asked what would happened if the suit were to tear, and what would happened if the pressure was not right, or if the balloon should collapse or if the parachute would not open at the right time and so on and so on withquestionsabout catastrophe . There are so many positive questions that could have been asked and maybe totally avoid the negative ones, or keeping them short and brief. Everyone understands that it would be fatal to fall towards the Earth at supersonic speed without being able to slow down the fall. We do not have to dwell on the things that could go wrong.
The positive questions that I would have liked answers to, are: How they have prepared him for the experience of the supersonic state? How does it feel to be that high above Earth? What does the atmosphere look like from such a high altitude? How long it will take between different stages in the mission? and so on. Their is a lot of knowledge about those things as a multitude of tests are carried out along the way.
You may wonder – how does all this connect to Business Excellence? It does connect, in the way of thinking, as the reporter demonstrated, and this can exist in our organizations as well. We are so pumped up with negative thinking. It is a problem when we want to perform well in our organization. When we have to focus on giving the customer the value that they expect, it is not easy to do that with the head full of negativism. As we are used to being spoon fed with negative news all the time, our thoughtscan easily be set to a negative mode. How do we reverse this to be as positive, creative and customer friendly as is needed to perform at an excellent level? It is not easy at all!
We can design our processes to perfection and we can write all the policies and guidelines that we can think of. There always seem to be people in an organization who approach them with a negative mind. œIt was much better as it was or œthere is no point in getting to involved, or œwe have tried this before and it did not work then either. We need to compensate for these mindsets . It is very important that we have a culture in the organization to think in a positive way. We even need to allow for the outside influences from media. As people are bombarded with negative news and thoughts from early morning to late night, we need to be even more positive than we would have needed to be if those negative influences did not exist.
So to be very concrete: Outlaw all negative talk within the organization. If you are having a tough time with the budget, the sales or with anything else, approach the issue with a positive mind. To be gloomy about it will not help anyone. All issues have a positive side to them. It is necessary to find them. If you put on your œbig black frame with glasses too dark they don’t even know your name (ZZ Top), then you will not be able to see any of the positive paths. It is very important as a leader to put an end to the whimpers nook. A leader in this case is not just the boss, it is everyone who leads the organization towards business excellence. In “the whimpers nook” are all those that like to complain about everything. It is the wrong time of day, a bad boss, the rude customer, even the weather, which makes it so hard to succeed with their tasks. The list of things that make everything ‘sooooo’ hard is there. Their negative mind is fed every time they put on the news or read the paper. The scary part is, that this way of thinking is contagious, so stay out of it! The good thing is that the medicine is very cheap and easy to take. It is not easy to master, but easy to start. Just start to see things from the positive side, and don’t give in to the resistance of improvement that comes from “the whimpers nook”. You have to start taking control of yourself and of your working environment. See yourself as the seed to a more positive working environment. That is a part of shaping your business to excellence!
To quote the American philosopher Nicholas M. Butler; œOptimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.
I hope Felix Baumgartner has a successful journey both up to the stratosphere and down again to Earth. One thing is for sure is they would never have reached this far if they had a negative mentality. Good luck!
To your Excellence!
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