April: A Time To Review More Than Your Taxes

The dreaded April 15th tax deadline has passed. This date is something that virtually everyone remembers because of the consequences that can result if it isn’t met. I’d like to offer another way of thinking about this date. Why not use it as your time to review and see how you are doing on the goals you have established for the year? Too often we set goals, write them down, or maybe even design a really nice visual of what the future will look like if they are accomplished. Unfortunately, these documents are often filed away in a drawer or on your computer, only to be pulled out at the end of the year to see if they have materialized.

Great leaders and organizations understand the importance of periodically touching base on goals to see if things are being accomplished. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, who will?

Here are a few other analogies to tax time that we can consider in our professional lives:

  • Policies and processes are your friend. Like it or not, if you follow policies and procedures like having your withholding done correctly and paying estimated taxes, when your year is up, there shouldn’t be any surprises and you shouldn’t have to deal with consequences. The same goes with goals. If you set up a process to review, give and get feedback, and modify expectations to meet overall goals, you won’t be surprised when the year is complete.
  • It’s easier to keep track of things all year long instead of all at one time. Don’t wait until the last minute to start pulling everything together. Spending smaller periods of time, in a strategic manner throughout the year, will reap more benefits than a strong push at the end.
  • Getting a refund is great . . . or is it? Some individuals purposely overpay taxes because they like to get a big refund each year. However, consider the value of that money. Instead of you having access to what is yours throughout the year, it is in the hands of the government. Would you have saved more money by using it to pay down a credit card or a loan? In your professional life, are you spending your time doing the highest priority items, those items that will present not only short, but long-term benefits for you?

So, did you get your taxes in on time this year? Were you surprised or were you in a place where you knew what to expect? Can you say the same thing for your personal goals—are you on schedule and in control of the outcome? Today is as good as any day to take a step back and see how you are doing!

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Moving From Good To Great

In his great book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about what happens in some organizations that make them great, while other organizations plateau at good. The question you need to ask is whether you have a good company (or team), or a great company (or team). Have you hit a plateau or are you really seeking to be great.

“Good is the enemy of great” is one of my favorite quotes from the book because I think it is so true. Too often I see organizations and teams who confuse good with great. They think that because they are making a profit or having success, they have reached the pinnacle. However, when they really look at the potential, they see that there is a whole new level available for them to pursue.

Below are a few things to help you consider whether you have a good or great organization or team. See how you do.

  1. Do you feel like you have the right people on your team, in your organization? Good teams will “accept” people as “not the best at what they do, but a good person” while great teams ask themselves whether team members can be the absolute best at what they are expected to do.
  1. Do you have a common vision of who you are and what you want to accomplish? Collins calls this the Hedgehog Concept. There are three questions you can ask yourself to help determine your Hedgehog Concept:

What are we really passionate about?

What do we do that drives the economic engine?

What can we be best in the world at?

  1. Do you confront the “brutal facts”. Good teams understand there are difficult issues to be dealt with, but have the tendency to put them off or ignore them. Great teams use these difficult issues to open discussion and look for better ways to do things.
  1. Does your organization or team have the discipline to focus on the important aspects of being great? Have you identified where you need to be more disciplined? Are you holding everyone accountable for doing the things that will make you great?

How did you do? Are you good . . . or are you great? The “great” news is that either answer presents opportunity. Take a step back, consider where you are and make plans to become even greater.