NANCY, my Director of Everything, and I were talking about how we could better serve our clients and each other. How can we be more efficient and effective in the office? How can we highlight our strengths and outsource or minimise our weaknesses?
Out of the discussion, it boiled down to the one thing we knew we were looking for - the perfect world concept. How do we create each other's "perfect world?"
Wouldn't it be nice in our employer-employee relationship if we created a situation in which we both did more of what we loved, outsourced what we didn't like, make it a point to do everything possible to make sure the other is happy, and stay focused on living true to our values? What a concept!
In fact, that would be each of our job descriptions: to create each other's Perfect World. Simple, yet profound.
My perfect world
Nancy asked: "What is it for you? What drives you? What do you value? What is your perfect world?"
"It's having more joy and less hassle," I said. "Freedom to come and go as I please; freedom to create; and freedom to make a difference in this world in ways I would like. If you help me do that, I'll be one happy boss."
What Nancy wants
"Okay, Nancy, what is your Perfect World?" I asked.
She replied: "Get rid of anything to do with accounting and technology, have more time for marketing and taking care of our clients. I'd also like to spend more time with my son (who at the time was 12) and with family around the country. I'd like to travel more, have more fun, and partake in the delightfully unexpected more often."
"Okay, done," I replied. "No more accounting and technology. We'll order out. This will free you up to do more marketing and spend more time with clients.
"You can 'call in well' anytime you like if it gives you the opportunity to be with David and the family. We'll create an incentive plan and your reward will be free tickets to travel anywhere you'd like. And I'll do my best to keep things from getting mundane in the workplace.
"At the end of every month, we will grade ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well we did at creating each other's perfect world. If we aren't at a 9 or 10, we'll figure out a way to raise the score the next month."
And for the last 19 years, we have stayed in tune with each other's Perfect World.
I run a small business and it may be easier for me to make quick changes than it is for you, but the question is, how attuned are you to your employees' perfect world? Are you self-absorbed and think only of your needs or do you think of what's best for the people around you?
Help each other
What if we lived our life with each other's Perfect World in mind? What if we spent more time asking questions and paying attention to the perfect world of our co-workers, spouses, family and friends?
What if we made choices in life based on those perfect worlds? Would you sell more? Would you laugh more? Would you love more? Would the quality of your relationships improve? Would the quality of your life improve?
So how do you best go about creating another person's Perfect World? You start by looking at the world through their eyes. It's not always easy if you only have eyes for "I." Get past your self-absorbed self. Pay more attention.
Start by asking questions. Ask the customers: "If we could have done one thing better in working with you, what would it have been?" Find out and then deliver. Ask: How can I create a better experience for my customers? What can I do to truly connect with them? How can I move from being ordinary to extraordinary?
Do you want to keep good customers? Want to keep good friends? Want to keep good employees? Find out what drives them. Find out what constitutes their Perfect World.
The most effective company incentive programmes I've seen are the ones customised to meet the desires of each employee.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "One of the most beautiful compensations of this life is that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." It's a wonderful way to live.
By living the "perfect world" philosophy, we provide an opportunity for joy, spontaneity, curiosity, silliness and laughter to flourish. And that's not a bad way to live. In fact, that's perfect!