Alignment and Execution: Are you an “aligned” gazelle? (Part 1)

alignment-in-business-gazellePerhaps you’ve heard this story about business survival using the metaphor of a lion and a gazelle on the African savannah…

“Every morning the lion awakens knowing it must be faster than the slowest gazelle if it is to eat and survive. And every morning the gazelle awakens knowing it must be faster than the fastest lion if it is survive the day.”

But I actually prefer this other lion and the gazelle business story:

“Every day the gazelle knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle in the herd if it is to escape the lion. So the gazelle continually looks over its shoulder to make sure it’s ahead of at least one other gazelle. Running and running and running, the gazelle looks over its shoulder, staying ahead of the other gazelles.

Meanwhile the lion slowly awakens in the shade of a tree on the savannah. It looks around, stretches its muscles, and yawns its kingly yawn getting ready for the hunt.

The gazelle continues to run, faster and faster, looking over its flank to make sure it’s staying ahead of the rest of the herd so it doesn’t get eaten by a rapidly gaining lion.

The shrewd lion continues to hang out and wait in the shade and…

Without warning, the speeding gazelle as it looks back over its shoulder runs full speed into a tree and falls unconscious at its base…

right next to the waiting lion! Mmmm!” So here’s the business lesson contained in this story:

To succeed in business you don’t have to be the best at what you do. You don’t have to have the fanciest advertising or the most creative marketing. You don’t even have to be faster than your competition.

What you need to succeed in business is to have a crystal-clear picture of a) where you’re going plus b) make sure your people, processes, and strategies are in alignment to get you there and then c) DO THEM!

NOTE: And it sure helps if you keep your eyes ahead of you to make sure you don’t kill yourself as you try to get there!

If you want to be the best at what you do or if you want to have the coolest ads or if you want to load up on talented staff then fine. Those things can help get you to your goal(s) faster. But if nobody knows where the company’s headed (and especially if you don’t know) then all these nest things will do is get you where you don’t really know you’re going…only faster! And that could end up being some place you don’t really want to be.

The bottom line is many business owners don’t know what they have to do. (Alignment) And an even worse problem is they procrastinate when it comes to actually doing it! (Execution) David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford University, understood this when he said, “Wisdom is knowing what to do; virtue is doing it.”

In my next two SFS posts I’ll offer a deeper explanation of “Alignment” and “Execution” and provide a few examples of how they can improve your cleaning or restoration business.

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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