Most people struggle to keep their New Year's resolutions for more than a couple of days. I know how they feel. Twenty-eight years ago my New Year's resolution was to join the SAS and I had my doubts when I disappeared up to my armpits in a snowdrift at three in the morning in some prehistoric corner of Wales. These days, I still love to run in the Surrey Hills in summer but when it's cold, wet and miserable I head for the gym. So here's a more realistic suggestion (as you bail the flood water out of your living room or look dejectedly out of the office window); how about running your organization like the SAS this year?
Sounds risible? Forget the balaclavas and flash-bangs and think about making the following 10 promises in 2014:
1. I promise to focus on recruiting and nurturing raw talent, rather than hiring second-hand goods from someone else's worn-out organization. I'm going to surround myself with human "Swiss Army Knives" who learn quickly, thrive on challenge and love to push themselves to the limit.
2. I promise to take a courageous approach to business this year, whether that's capturing commercial opportunities, defending against vigorous competitors or simply organizing in a more flexible, empowering and dynamic way.
3. I promise to Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way. As US General Stormin' Norman said; "When in charge, take command!" When not in charge, I'll get aligned with the program and make sure I'm the "Go-to" guy/gal for an area of expertise that everyone else values. If I'm in an HQ role, I'll make sure I'm sure World Class, economic and yet resolute with the demands I make on the folks on the front line.
4. I promise to do better this year than I did last year and what's going to make that possible is a combination of focused resources, emerging technology and guerilla tactics, whether in the realms of marketing, employee engagement or customer service.
5. I promise to deploy Speed, Aggression-Discretion & Surprise (the S.A.S. in Special Air Service) to outwit my competitors. I will be quicker to market with my products, faster to deal with customer enquiries and I wont allow my fixed assets to stymie or dictate my strategy.
6. I promise to differentiate between Vital & Pointless. Processes, systems, routines and competencies that drive productivity will be my life-blood but I will ruthlessly dispense with corporate bullshit.
7. I promise to keep moving; re-appraising my strategy, fine-tuning my tactics, improvising, innovating and adapting to new market realities. I know darn well that if I don't do this, if I stand still, I'll present a very tempting target to someone who will steal my customers without compunction.
8. I promise to ask for help. Yup, even though I'm an independent son-of-a-bitch, I'm going to ask senior sponsors, partners, colleagues, local experts, suppliers and even franchisees to help me to be successful. Why? Because when I'm trying to do something exceptional, at speed and with limited resources, it's the surest way to succeed.
9. I promise to keep continually learning, in the same direction and at the same speed as my organization, because when I stop learning I'm becoming a liability. (I also promise to shoot the next HR consultant who offers me a training program involving psychometrics and abseiling).
10. I promise to learn from my mistakes, to avoid repeating the same ones and to bounce back vigorously when things work out disappointingly......
....which, inevitably, they will from time-to-time. After twenty-three hours of swimming through Brecon snowdrifts the SAS instructors called a halt to my expedition all those years ago and sent me onwards to jungle warfare training in Borneo. Three agonizing months later they took me to one side and said; "We really like you. But you lack maturity. We want you to come back next year and re-do the complete SAS Aptitude test." Oh well, another resolution, another year.
It all happened a very long time ago now and nowadays I sit in a comfortable office in Mayfair. But I try to remember what the SAS taught me and apply those ten principles to daily business life and it all seems to work rather well. At any rate, my current employers kindly pay me more than the £17 weekly Special Forces pay I eventually received.
Who Dares Wins in Business is published by Thistle Publications and is available on Amazon £9.99 paperback, £3.99 eBook.