Kristen Speights

Successful remodelers: Wondering what qualities you have in common with Tiger Woods and Thomas Edison? Like those superstars of golf and invention, you don’t wallow in failure or disappointment. Instead, you apply what you’ve learned and emerge stronger. Even if it takes 10,000 tries -- as was the case with Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb. “There is no such thing as failure,” Edison said. “We learn something from everything we do.”

At the Remodeling Leadership Conference last week, speaker Nate Booth (in photos at left and below) articulated this and other points about resilience through an entertaining and provocative presentation that had the remodelers in the audience examining their leadership styles and business principles.

“Glass doesn’t shatter because it’s not hard enough but because it’s too hard; it has no resilience,” said Booth, a former dentist, colleague of Tony Robbins, and author of books including “Tiger Traits: 9 Success Secrets You Can Discover from Tiger Woods to be a Business Champion."

Kristen Speights

Steel, by comparison, “snaps back,” Booth said. Steel is resilient not because it’s super-hard but because it embodies the qualities that resilient people have: by responding appropriately to the pressure exerted. The ultimate athletic example of resilience is Tiger Woods, Booth said. After he errs, he improves. Overall Tiger “birdies” (scores one stroke under par) 25% of the time. He does even better -- with birdies 33% of the time -- on holes that come immediately after he “bogeys” (scores one over par).

Ever notice how Tiger takes three steps after a bogey? Booth asked. That’s how he deals with anger or disappointment. Three steps and it’s gone. Time to bounce back. Next challenge.

Three Keys to Resiliency

There are three keys to resiliency, and a leader’s effectiveness can hinge on how well she or he exemplifies them, said Booth:

  • Perception: Your view of challenging times.

  • Strategy: The actions you take.

  • Style: The manner in which you move through the world. How you respond, in other words.

In terms of perception, Booth cautioned remodelers to “recognize the dangers of focusing on things that reinforce our beliefs.” Your value system, for better or worse, can blind you to possibilities that could help your business and your relationships. He doesn’t advocate being a Pollyanna; on the contrary, he recommends that you be realistic, flexible, and alert.
Booth’s “eight resiliency beliefs”:

  1. We’re in a recession. It’s probably going to last a while.

  2. I can do very little to control the challenging times. I can always control my reaction to them.

  3. The economy is cyclical. This too will pass.

  4. When things change, I must change.

  5. I’m going to enjoy the journey through these challenging times.

  6. The journey will make me stronger and teach me lessons.

  7. Challenging times can create big problems. Big problems are just tough decisions waiting to be made.
    Tough times create new opportunities.

  8. Communicate more, not less, in tough times.

At the last point, a remodeler in the audience volunteered that “The best thing I ever did was open my books to staff.” The simple act of educating his staff and being honest about company finances helped them to understand where the money came from, where it went, and what they could do to take ownership of the company’s (and their own) success.
Changes for the Better

Turning his presentation interactive, Booth had the audience break into small groups and respond to four questions:

  1. Given the changes in the economy, what internal changes are you going to have to make?

  2. How could the tough economic times make your company and you stronger, and what lessons could it teach you?

  3. What tough decisions have you delayed making?

  4. What opportunities could the challenging times create for you and your company?

At one table, remodelers identified how they could reduce overhead, including renegotiating contracts with vendors and possibly laying off some B- or C-players. On the plus side, they acknowledged that the tough economy had helped them to focus more on past clients and build cohesion among remaining staff.
“Take an hour to answer these questions with six to eight people on your staff,” Booth advised. Homework for the audience (and for those who missed the conference).

The Journey and the Destination

Next is strategy change, said Booth: Let go of the old, begin the transition from old to new, and embrace the new.

Kristen Speights

None of this may come easily, he acknowledged. He advised the audience to realize that everyone reacts differently to change, and to honor and communicate what they feel they may be losing. Create a vision for the future -- for what can be gained -- give everyone a role to play in the journey, and help them realize that the journey itself won’t be so difficult. Throughout all of this turmoil and change, Booth advised, be aware of your style: the way you think and the image you project. A key aspect of “the mental” part of this process, he said, is the 2/98 rule: “Focus on limitations and problems 2% of the time, and on resources and solutions 98% of the time.”

Finally, realize that as you change, you may lose some people, and that could ultimately be a good thing. Booth cited the example of, the wildly successful online shoe retailer that sold $1 billion worth of shoes last year. The company is dynamic and nimble, but its core values and principles never change.

Kristen Speights

Zappos trains its employees extensively during their first week on the job. At the end of that week, the employees decide to stay or go. What happens if they leave? The company pays them $2,000, Booth said. Smart, observed another Remodeling Leadership Conference speaker (and Remodeling columnist) Shawn McCadden. “You don't want to spend to train people who might leave? Think how much you'll pay if you don't train them and they stay.”

Learn more about Nate Booth here.

Complete coverage of the 2009 Remodeling Leadership Conference.