Sunday, December 6, 2009

Doing December Differently

(Note: I know it's already December 6th. For some of you it might seem like too little too late. But the advice is good and I didn't want to wait 11 months before sharing it.)

Today's sermon from Pastor Dr. James Hegedus at the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson was about "Doing December Differently." Would it surprise you to learn that pastors take the same approach to December as retailers?

As Pastor Jim put it, "I turned the page on the calendar and sucked all the oxygen out of the room."

Yes, big, deep sighs as we brace ourselves for the onslaught of the busy season.

Pastor Jim went on to talk about how he is preparing his way for the Lord differently this year. As retailers we need to think about how we prepare, too. Here are three things I encourage you to do differently this December.
  1. Schedule some white space
  2. Empower your staff
  3. Focus on one customer at a time
The hardest thing we face in December is the way everything seems to grow and speed up exponentially. The fires to put out, the to-do lists, and the pace of business whirl around faster and faster until we are sucked into the stress and craziness of the season. Soon we aren't eating or sleeping well, we're losing our patience faster and we become a different person than we were the other 11 months of the year. I know. Been there, done that.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You don't have to take a deep sigh as though holding your breath while you plunge into the icy waters of December. You just have to do things a little differently.

Do these three things and it will make a huge difference in how well you feel (and how well you do) at the end of December.

Schedule some white space. Just as the white space in a newsprint ad makes the message stand out more powerfully, white space in your life makes you more powerful. Schedule at least 30 minutes per day for quiet time. Use it to read, write or reflect, but don't use it for anything relating to your business. It will recharge your batteries and give you a fresh outlook on your life and your business.

Empower your people. Teach your employees how to do what you do and let them do it. Reward and praise them when they do it right. If they do it wrong, first support them, then show them how to do it right. Soon they will be doing more so that you can do less. Will they do it as well as you? Probably not at first. But if you're rewarding their behavior, they'll do it well enough to make a difference. And you'll immediately have more time on your plate.

Focus on one customer at a time. As the boss it is hard not to look and listen to everything happening around you. But the more you can learn to focus on one customer at a time, the more the world slows down for you and the bigger impact you can have on that one customer. Give her your full attention and win her over as a fan. She deserves nothing but your best. And don't worry about those waiting customers. When they see you giving your all to one customer, they'll want some of that kind of service, too.

Do things a little differently this December. Give yourself a break. Empower your staff. And take it one customer at a time. You'll see the results before the champagne pops New Year's Eve.

Merry Christmas!

-Phil

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