Wow, what an exciting week…and not in a good way. My CRM went down on Tuesday. It’s cloud-based and completely out of my control. The problem you ask? Well, my entire business life is in the CRM. I have 380 calls and things to do schedule out through April of 2023. Of course, someone as organized as this probably has a contingency plan, NOT!
The good news, the company I use had their systems back up and running fairly quickly so I only missed a couple of hours of productivity AND a weakness in my system was revealed. I have to work figure out a contingency plan.
There are two leadership lessons in this story. The first, and obvious one, is that we need to have a backup plan. This isn’t just good business it is critical to leadership. Our job as a leader is to set our team up for success. When we lose a critical business system and we don’t have a fallback position, we have failed to set up our team for success.
The second lesson is less obvious (congratulations if you see it) but probably more critical. Effective leaders are able to hold seemingly conflicting opinions simultaneously. In other words, they understand the power of the word AND.
In this case, I was horrified by the revelation of how fragile my business system is AND I am elated that I discovered there is a single point of failure that could potentially set me back 18 months in my marketing efforts. This is the power of the word AND. It allows us to hold seemingly competing and conflicting concepts simultaneously. Let’s contrast this with the word BUT.
BUT serves to negate an idea. According to Meriam-webster.com one definition of BUT is “except for the fact.” In other words, BUT negates everything that comes before it while AND includes it. Imagine the power of this when working with an underperformer…such as me when I was 17.
Change Your Language
At 17 I worked at a GIno’s fast food restaurant. They had the KFC franchise in the northeast part of the country back in the 70s. Think McDonald’s and KFC’s offspring. Like all new hires, I was responsible for drinks, desserts, fries, and chicken. I was conscientious, on time, and did my job. I also couldn’t tell chicken thighs from breasts. I know, hard to believe a 17-year-old boy would have those issues but I digress. Eventually, the manager had a talk with me and told me my job was on the line. Now I know the difference between breasts and thighs. Imagine the difference between these two conversations:
Dave, you show up when you’re scheduled, you work a full shift, you never goof off, BUT, if you don’t learn to tell the difference between breasts and thighs, I’m going to let you go.
Dave, you show up when you’re scheduled, you work a full shift, you never goof off, AND, if you don’t learn to tell the difference between breasts and thighs, I’m going to let you go.
In the first conversation, everything before the word BUT was erased. It didn’t need to have been said because in my mind I would have heard “…except for the fact that you don’t know…” It would have been the same as if I didn’t show up on time, left early, and goofed off because I didn’t know my chicken parts. In the second conversation, I was given full credit for everything I did correctly in addition to being told where I needed improvement. I could feel good about myself while knowing what I needed to do in order to keep my job.
This is the difference between someone walking out of the conversation already feeling defeated and walking out feeling empowered to do better. All this from changing the word BUT to AND.
Where else in your life would you be served by replacing BUT with AND? Post a comment below and let me know.