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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published January 16, 2007

Six Things You Need To Stop Doing – Today 

Achieving Predictable Success® isn’t always about ‘progress’ – first you need to *stop* doing some things.

Here’s my ‘top 6’ of things to stop doing – Today!Marshall Goldsmith is an excellent, insightful business writer – no surprise, really, as he is a protégé of the most “Predictable Success® – positive” ‘guru’ of them all, Peter Drucker.

In his new book (which I highly recommend),
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:
How Successful People Become Even More Successful
, he prints a quote from Drucker that was one of the milestones in my development of the Predictable Success® methodology:

We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.

When I first read that quote many years ago, it resonated then (as it does even more so now) with my personal experience in coaching business leaders to Predictable Success®.

While most often leaders are looking for something to do – something to add to their skills set – the reality is, most of us will achieve our biggest step forward to Predictable Success® by stopping doing something.

When I’m making notes after my first ‘diagnostic’ coaching session with a coaching client, it’s almost always the case that the first thing we need to work on is the cessation of something that is clearly hindering that individual’s progress, rather than something new that needs developed.

Here are the most common “You need to stop this now”‘s that I encounter – most of us suffer from at least one, and maybe even two of these – which resonate with you?

  1. Managing by event, not process.

    In other words, managing short-term and reactively to whatever is going wrong at any one point in time, rather than building a long-term, dependable Predictable Success® ‘machine for decision-making’.

  2. Torpedoing the system.

    Many otherwise excellent leaders and managers expend large resources in building a Predictable Success® infrastructure, only to regularly ‘drop out’ of that system to go back to (comforting) previous, ‘gut-based’ ways of doing things.

  3. Pandering to the Big Dogs.

    The maverick big-hitter that helped build the business in the early days eventually becomes a liability as they struggle to resist change and hold on to their power base and independence. Continuing to give them their head, without establishing clear boundaries, is a guaranteed way to keep your organization out of Predictable Success®.

  4. Swinging for the fences.

    On the way up, successful leaders build their reputation by making bold decisions that prove to be right. Learning that the business has become too complex to do this consistently anymore, and that even if you could it isn’t scalable, because the business can then only be as big as you, is a hard lesson to learn.

  5. Squelching bad news.

    It’s hard to spot, but gradually a healthy ‘can-do’ attitude can be transformed into a negative ‘Don’t tell me it can’t be done’ culture. Are you getting all the facts, good or bad? Or are your people scared to tell you the downsides?

  6. Fad-grabbing.

    A phrase I invented to label the practice of jumping from business fad to fad in an attempt to find the ‘secret sauce’ of business success in one easy to grasp concept. Eventually, we all need to accept that achieving Predictable Success® is actually hard work.

How’d you fare? Spot any candidates you’d like to eradicate in your behavior?

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