June 6, 2018
Brent Ayles
Brent Ayles

Business lessons learned in the Fast Lane —

The hard way

The opinions expressed in this article are 100 per cent lessons that life has taught me. We often read business books written by well-versed, well-educated, well-written leaders from all parts. But the reality is, only the street can teach lessons that facilitate change. If that’s the course you choose — to change, that is.

The following are three lessons that I learned throughout life’s successes and failures.

10-80-10 rule

This rule works in several ways. We use it for leadership and teaching, as well as measuring the success of our team. When we expect others to perform things on our behalf, we should spend the first 10 per cent of our time teaching and showing what you expect. Then, let them perform what we hired them to do for 80 per cent of the time. The final 10 per cent is spent coming along side and providing feedback, both corrective and positive.

This rule also applies to team growth: 10 per cent are Superstars, the ones that continuously exceed expectations. Recognize and promote them. They will build your company. 80 per cent Exist. They want to be told what needs done daily, but they build the country. Learn how to position each of them in their area of strength. And 10 per cent are C.A.V.E. people. Continuously Against Virtually Everything management does. They dislike change. They dislike new people. Recognize who they are. Remove them fast. Because again, 80 per cent of your time will be spent dealing with them, and the top 10 will not be developed.

Ordinary vs. Extraordinary

There are many Ordinary people in this world, but a very few Extraordinary people. It is so simple to take your life into the Extraordinary level; just do is a little bit of EXTRA. Thank people. Pick that garbage up when crossing the shop yard. Kiss your spouse and children every morning and tell them you love them. Help a co-worker. Send a hand written note (not email) to an old teacher or influencer, thanking them for something they did. Talk positive. Walk with purpose. If you’re happy, tell your face. Show up on time, which is 15 minutes early. Compliment someone’s new hair style. Work those extra three to five hours that make a job pass the final five faster. Be a lifter, not an energy vampire. The only difference between Ordinary and Extraordinary is a little bit of EXTRA! There are very few people on the extra mile in life. That little bit of Extra will not cost you much, but it will change your life!

People and connections matter

When life’s direction takes a sudden shift, your survival depends on the five people closest to you. People matter. Learn to hold those that matter close.

Two connections that matter are your Inner and Outer Circles. The Inner Circle tends to be your lead team at work and one or two family members; they work closest on a daily basis. As a leader you cannot be good at everything. Allow your team to fill the voids. One of the biggest challenges a leader has is being self aware. If we expect to be one step ahead with an engaged team, you had best be very self aware of the five people closest to you. They must have the same mission, vision, and values, which unify the team. It does not need to be lonely at the top. Get connected!

Often we refer to your Outer Circle as mentors. Try to have about five key mentors that help shape and grow your leadership potential. These people are to challenge you, ask hard questions, hold you accountable, push you to become better in all areas of life. These are the generally older wiser experienced people, at least 10 years your senior. Be encouraged. Learn. Grow. If you feel uncomfortable that’s great, it’s a sign that you are growing.

Remember, in order to become better and reach your potential, bring smarter and wiser people into your life. Ask people you respect to mentor you, and schedule monthly meetings. Have an agenda so the time is focused. Most often those that mentor enjoy this time as much as you will.

Build a wall of fame: Pictures of people that have inspired and added value to your life. Send them thank you notes for their time. Remember, you are only as successful as the five people closest to you. Reach out. Ask for help. Become a Question Asker, and your leadership potential will grow faster than you can imagine.

Write the 10-80-10 rule on your board.
Do that little bit of EXTRA.
Find the connections that matter.
Lead well!
Brent Ayles is president of Ayles Natural Landscaping, based in Riverview, N.B.