How to Succeed When Times are Up, Down, or Sideways

How is your business right now?  How are you right now?

Most of us can say that we are doing well in some areas of our lives – with a desire to improve in others.

One thing about challenging times is they not only make you more aware of what needs improvement, but also more grateful for what is working well.

Today I had the pleasure of discussing this topic with New York Times bestselling author Mark Sanborn. His new book Up, Down, or Sideways looks at success in depth, and offers some predictable methods for staying on top of your game – whether times are good, bad, or somewhere in between.

Here are the highlights of that conversation – with a link to the full audio below.

Success and Relationships

A few years ago, Mark personally experienced several converging influences that gave him a fresh outlook on both his business success – and more importantly, life in general.

He applied that to his years of leadership, sales, and customer service work with businesses of all shapes and sizes.  The result is Up, Down, or Sideways – a book that will help you achieve the success that is just right for you, regardless of the outside influences.

Here’s a question. Would you have operated your businesses differently ten or twenty years ago if you knew then what you have learned over the last few challenging years?

I know with certainty that I would have been more grateful for the successes I was enjoying.

The truth is when things are going your way you fail to realize that it can all take a nosedive at any time. This book by Mark Sanborn gives you the practices you need to stay focused on what’s important, so that you can best prepare for whatever may be on your horizon.

One of my favorites is The 4 R’s of Scorekeeping.

It is based on the idea that how you score the game determines where you will place your emphasis.

#1 – Results – If you are all about winning your emphasis will be here.

#2 – Recognition – If you love the limelight, you will be happiest with awards and accolades.

#3 – Recreation – If you work to play, then having a garage full of toys is your idea of living the good life.

#4 – Relationships – If people come first in your life, then fulfilling relationships are your highest measure of success.

Obviously, these four measures overlap, and it’s best to have a balance of all four. However, Mark suggests that there is indeed a hierarchy involved.

That is, if you lead with relationships and endeavor to score well there, you are more likely to do the same in the three other areas.

Why is that?  Because relationships help you to get results and recognition.  And recreation is clearly more fun when you have friends to share it with.

Success is Non-Linear

When it comes to business, you are not likely to have sustainable success if you give relationships a low priority.  It takes time to build and maintain productive relationships. Fortunately, we now have social media to make make our job a little easier.

Unfortunately, regardless of the effort made or the methods used, there is no guarantee that you will meet with immediate success.  This is especially true when it comes to using social media.

Success is a non-linear process – maybe now more than ever.  This is why those that are succeeding today know that these are times when you need to give a little more – for your staff, your customers, and everyone that interacts with you.

Mark Sanborn suggests a number of ways for accomplishing this, with a few being more emphasis on continuous learning, value creation, and innovating to find what’s next for your customers and clients.

That’s solid advice.  In fact, many years I ago I received that same advice from one of my best customers – one who later became a mentor.

Not every customer will share what you should be doing to run a better business.

So, you may want to pick up a copy of Up, Down, or Sideways to learn how you can develop the necessary disciplines to ensure your future success – no matter which way things are going.

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Until next week,  Jeff

Listen to the complete interview with Mark Sanborn here.