Make 2013 Your Year

The end of a year is often a time for reflection, and I’ve tried to summarise a few little hints and tips that I hope some of you will find useful. It’s  just a collection of things that have served me well to this point, so I thought I’d jot them down and pass them on. Do with them what you will.  They are OFIs. Corrective action is taken at your discretion. I wanted there to be 10, but I ran out of steam when I got to 8.

1. Fail Fast Fail Cheap

Never underestimate the value of being taught a lesson. Failure is part of life and needn’t be devastating. Expensive failure is what you need to watch out for. Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and know what your limit is. Understand the worst case scenario and make sure you can live with it. Inexpensive failure is OK, especially if you learn something along the way. A little more about the concept of failing fast and failing cheap here

2. Don’t look for ways to complicate things that can be simple

There’s nothing clever in making something that should be simple, sound complicated. Don’t do it. Life is hard enough as it is.

3. Not everything is simple. Learn to recognise and respect complex systems

Learn to differentiate between things that are simple (contained, linear, free from significant unknowns and uncontrollable factors), and those that are not. Understand that complex and complicated are not the same thing. Complex systems do not lend themselves readily to management by numbers, no matter how inconvenient this might be.

4. Don’t waste any time whining and blaming

I know it’s hard, but try. There are two main reasons why you should

  1. It gets you nowhere
  2. NOBODY IS INTERESTED

5. Understand there is no such thing as a free lunch, use it to your advantage

Do favours freely, but understand that there has to be limits. Not every favour you do will be returned but, provided that you are sensible in choosing which to indulge, you’ll generally get your rewards over time if you trust the process. Most people have some sense of fair play and won’t take advantage of you too much and are fine with the concept of Quid Pro Quo.

6. Be good to know

It’s up to you to make yourself good to know and nobody can do it for you. Give people reasons to want to connect with you. Don’t expect any no-strings favours (see point 5 above), but make sure that when you’re doing somebody a favour, that they understand that you’re doing them a favour. Don’t expect anybody to be interested in your gripes and grumbles, but you may reasonably expect to gain their interest if it appears you can make some of theirs go away.

7. Don’t be greedy

People like successful people. They are good to know, good to be associated with and more often than not deserve their success. People don’t like greedy people. Greedy people are seldom good to know (see point 6 above).

8. Capability, credibility, contacts

Make this your mantra. It’s one thing being capable, but if you’re not credible, you’ll have a hard time selling yourself. Just as you will if nobody knows you exist. Understand that building capability, credibility and contacts require different approaches, but these must be consistent and aligned. People view inconsistency with suspicion.

This last point is probably the most important if you want to get on in life.

Happy 2013 to all my readers both loyal and irregular. May you get at least as much as you deserve

All the very best

Shaun

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2 Responses to “Make 2013 Your Year”


  1. john Kelly says:

    Thanks for these practical tips, Shaun. I'd add 'JUST DO IT!' to Plan DO Check Act (Review). In my experience, the worst failing of quality people is the tendency to allow procrastination to become a habit. This is doubly true of associations (hence your frustration with CQI etc.) I agree wholehartdely about the need to be congenial: it's depressing but true that too much corporate behaviour is marked by what can only be described as a woeful disrespect for common courtesy. We should constantly look to the signals we send out to others and try and be as civil, professional and friendly as possible. It can't do any harm. Here are a few more resolutions: Knowing when to walk away from hostile and unpleasant people Refusing to compromise your ethics and standards Changing your service provider if things are not right PICKING UP THE PHONE AND TALKING A PROBLEM THROUGH are all things I'll be doing this year. Good luck, John

  2. Shaun says:

    Thanks for the addendum, John. There's my 9 and 10 Happy New Year. Maybe we can get our diaries and movements lined up sometime in 2013. Shaun

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