Meadow CreekNews

Be a Ball of Fire: An Old Article of Mine

Filed under Business Management, Community Interest, Small Business on May 19, 2012

I’ve always thought of New Years Resolutions as something akin to reading my fortune from the cookie after a Chinese meal. They’re for entertainment value only and not to be taken seriously. I do save the occasional fortune that seems truely insightful such as those extolling my charming personality, my magnetic effect on those of the opposite sex and the ones that remind me that my hard work is about to pay off.

My own New Years Resolutions like most, tend towards losing weight, attaining the physical prowess I’ve not seen in thirty years and foregoing all of my bad habits. This is a decidedly negative way to bring on the New Year, eliminating all of those things that make life worth living and define you as a person. This year I’m not making any personal resolutions, it’s all about business.
2009 sucked the life out of me in business. As I predicted in prior posts, the recovery did begin and also as I predicted I didn’t feel it. Corporate earnings are up, Wall Street bonuses are way up and and actually being paid out from earning and not bail out money and stocks are rebounding. Unfortunately we are still talking about the declining rate of increase in new unemployment claims and not employment gains. The financial system continues to be illiquid and small businesses are taking it in the shorts.

A while back, I heard a Biznik friend of mine, John Erdman, tell a story of being a ball of fire. Without going through the entire story, he explained that you can never be enthusiastic or motivated enough. You can always deliver more energy to your environment, you can always do more to lift the spirits of others and you can always be more motivated to create success for yourself and those around you. He regularly tells this story at the end of his speeches. He invites everyone to place a red dot on their watch or cell phone as a constant reminder that they are a ball of fire.

The first several times I heard this story, I didn’t pay much attention. I told him I had a nice watch and I wasn’t going to trash it with a round red sticker on the face. The last time I heard it I decided to give it a try. I put the red sticker on my watch and waited to see what would happen. A memeber of my staff soon asked what the red dot was all about and I jumped into the air spreading my arms and legs screaming “I am a ball of fire!” Scaring the hell of my staff was worth tranforming my watch into a party favor. Once their shock had worn off, I explained the red dot and inducted them into the Red Dot Society. Throughout the day I pepper my conversation with “you’re a ball of fire!” They’re not jumping in the air yet, but I’ll give it some time. This will be a central theme in my efforts for the coming year and beyond.

This year my resolutions are business focused. As such, they stand a far better chance of success. They also stand to keep all of my bad habits well funded in the coming year. Here they are, not my bad habits, but my resolutions:

Say what I really think! To those that have known me, particularly in my corporate years, they might wonder what I think I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. The level of discomfort that I may have occassionally caused in meetings with some frequency may have appeared to be an inexcusable lapse in corporate congeniality. Well, they aint seen nothing yet. Lie to me, imagine an alternate reality to justify the status quo, pretend to be someone you are not or speak when you have nothing to say and I’m going to rip you a new one. No more Mr. Nice Guy!

Stay focused! I’m going to whip my ADD addled mind into shape. No more channel surfing going on inside my head. No more initiative overload. I reported to a felow that was formerly a principal of McKinsey & Company. At McKinsey there are always three problems, each problem has three issues and each issue has three solutions. Their consultancy has done somewhat better than mine so I’ll go with the power of three. I’ll limit myself to three big things to work on at any given time. Drive them to completion and move on. No longer will I find a peice of paper at the bottom of a stack on my desk and remember that I had vowed to complete a project six months ago only to have it lost under a tidal wave of my latest bright ideas. Take on a project and complete it or kill it.

Be a ball of fire! No more enthusiasm from ten cups of coffee. I vow to maintain an energy level and excitement from the sheer brilliance of my thinking and not from a bottomless cup of coffee. No more manic behavior, crashing at about noon wandering about the office talking to myself with no amount of coffee able to sustain my morning high. If the project at hand isn’t enough to spark my enthusiasm, I’ll kill it and move on to the next. I’ll put so many red dots around the office it will look like a page from a Dr. Seuss book.

Happy New Year everyone. Be a ball of fire!

Richard Gabel

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