If, at the beginning of the year, you got one of those cool new calendars for your desk – maybe one with cute kittens or funny puns or beefy firemen – you may have a problem.
The months and dates on the calendar are incorrect. They lead you to believe there are 12 months and 52 weeks in a year, and the end of 2019 occurs on Tuesday, Dec. 31. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Well, sort of. Sure, the calendars reflect an adherence to the Gregorian calendar most of society has embraced for more than 2,000 years, but according to authors Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, the dates also create a mindset that can impair your bid to achieve your business goals.
In their best-selling book The 12 Week Year, Moran and Lennington challenge business owners to redefine the calendar and create a new endgame when it comes to setting goals and reaching benchmarks. The authors’ invitation to infuse your work ethic seems simple in concept, but dynamic in its results.
If you’re laying out your business plans, you need to read this book. It may redefine how you approach every aspect of your work.
From the start, Moran and Lennington lay out their perspective with a challenge to maximize your abilities. To engage and excite readers about their personal potential, they embrace a quote from Thomas Edison on the first page: “If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
This is not a book for slackers.
Or maybe it is, if the slacker wants to shed the shackles that have held them back.
The 12 Week Year asks us to look within and determine if we possess two lives: the one we lead and the one we we’re capable of living.
“It’s the latter that intrigues me,” writes Moran, an industrial ecologist, lecturer who possesses more than 30 years of experience as a CEO and entrepreneur. “It’s the life that we know exists somewhere deep inside us that we wish could actualize. This life isn’t driven by the you who settles or gives in to procrastination and doubt, but by the optimal you, the best you, the confident you, the healthy you. The you who shows up with your best stuff, making things happen, making a difference, living a life of significance.”
The motivational words are an important place to start. Moran promises his advice will help business owners produce “staggering results,” but almost as a caution, the book notes that, “creating greatness in your life isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s quite uncomplicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
The book downplays some conventional tenets of business. While it concedes knowledge, new strategies, networking and talent are factors in the world of business, they put the emphasis on execution as the greatest differentiator. The words almost come across as the hardened demands of a taxing fitness instructor or drill camp sergeant.
“The barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution.”
Of course, sometimes changing a mindset requires that kind of urging.
And The 12 Week Year is all about operating with a sense of urgency – every day, every week, every month, every moment.
Yes, it discards what the book calls “annualized thinking.” It’s simple. They say a lot of companies achieve their annual goals by meandering through most of the year and then making a big push in the final quarter. They don’t deny the exhilaration that comes from the rush to meet annual goals in November and December.
“Year-end is certainly a rousing time in most industries. Activity is up and people are focused. With little time to waste and with clear objectives to meet, workers focus on the critical projects and opportunities. Tasks that are not directly related to driving results are pushed aside for what really matters in the short term.”
So, the authors ask, what would happen if a business operated with that intensity and focus throughout the year? Surely, the results would improve.
Thus, you shorten the year into incremental 12-week periods. You bring that year-end rush to each day. Procrastination gives way to action. Achievement becomes more attainable because the finish line isn’t some far-away benchmark that comes after Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The great thing about having a 12-week year is that the deadline is always near enough to get things done, yet short enough to create a sense of urgency and a bias for action. It’s human nature that we behave differently when a deadline approaches.”
See, simple. At least in theory.
One caveat they explain in later chapters: the 12-week year is not creating “quarterly plans.” That, they say, is part of outdated annualized thinking. With the 12 week plan, every period stands alone as a separate “year.”
“Every 12 weeks is a new year and a fresh opportunity to be great.”
But Moran and Lennington don’t just espouse tips. They lay out a structured approach to help implement the theories:
- Emotional Connection challenges business leaders to create a long-term vision, a “life vision,” of their future; they desire more than the comfort of short-term accomplishment.
- Planning and Goal Setting stresses the advantages of periodization and an incremental approach. Those advantages include predictability and focus.
- Weekly Planning explains how the incremental approach can lead to daily action.
- Confronting the Truth illuminates the importance of measuring achievement or as the authors say, “keeping score.”
- Intentionality stresses the importance of managing your time, a “supply that is completely inelastic – and perishable.”
- Accountability challenges the entrepreneur to redefine the word and see it as “ownership,” an empowering outlook that, “… confronts the truth and confronts with freedom of choice and consequence.”
- Commitment explains how people need to keep their promises to others and themselves to achieve, create strong relationships and build character.
- Greatness in the Moments speak to the importance of committing to being great each day.
The second half of the book takes all of these tenets and more explains how to implement. It provides charts and work sheets to layout the plans and goals. A subsequent companion piece, The 12 Week Year Workbook allows for greater organization.
The book and the philosophies espoused by Moran and Lennington, when applied properly, can infuse the success of any business. However, its popularity also may lie in its constant emphasis on using the principles to not only change your business, but to change your life.
It pushes to make the most of every life, but it never ignores the need to refresh, recharge and make time for pursuits outside of the business.
If you spend too much of your time staring at the calendar and daydreaming about funny puns and cute kittens, this is a book that can electrify your outlook.
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