THE BLOG
07/28/2014 10:42 am ET Updated Sep 26, 2014

Doing Your Best Isn't Good Enough

"Doing your best isn't good enough, you have to know what to do and then do your best." -- W.D. Deming

As the above is so true, I thought I would share some perspectives on expectations that we believe is appropriate at home, work or play in any walk of life.

1. Have you told them?
2. Have you shared mutual expectations?
3. Can you do something about 'it'?

For those who need more information let me add some.

1. Have you told them?

What does that mean? So many times both as a coach and someone in management, I hear people who come to me and start talking about someone else either within or out-with the organization. Their request is often for me to talk to them, my answer never changes -- I simply ask the same question: "Have you told them?"

Why do I ask that question? Because invariably they haven't told them or found a way to communicate to the other party what it is they really want to say.

How do people then move forward? Clearly there's some great opportunities to look at this from an E-Colors perspective, especially as our E-Colors have such a large influence on how we see the world. Whereas some E-Colors have no problem 'telling' someone else what should be happening/not happening/etc. their words may well fall on deaf ears if the others' perspectives or feelings are not taken into consideration. Some combinations have different thoughts around what they interpret as confrontation and disharmony, so are less apt to provide feedback at all.

For some people, giving feedback can be so stressful that it may have to be approached as the critical task of the day and all of the inherent tools that can be utilized become relevant. There's a lot more to this than meets the eye, but the good news is that the more we practice the better we get.

Who does this impact? All of us. We all need feedback as it truly is the "breakfast of champions." When working with others, it's imperative for individual and team success. We also should be working to become black belts in not only giving but also receiving feedback gracefully and respectfully. Sometimes the feedback can catch us defending ourselves or trying to justify our positions. That's understood and clearly we all go through that. My suggestion is always be mindful of the context, situation and timing for both giving and receiving the words spoken. Be super aware of our own and their strengths and potential limiters during these moments.

2. Have you shared mutual expectations?

What do you mean by mutual expectations? A simple and concise list of clearly mutually understood expectations that both parties agree with, upfront.

Why are shared mutual expectations so important? Many times in life there is an unfounded assumption that people know what others want from them.

In our experience, Deming's words resonate very true when he said that "Doing your best isn't good enough, you've got to know what to do and then do your best." How true this is and I'm sure you can relate to your own experiences to see how that works. if people don't know what others want from them, they will typically either do what they think is right at the time, what they like to do, or what they think the other the person wants them to do.

How do we set mutual expectations for each other? Simple approach, start by looking at the E-Colors information around teamwork in the information provided. Establish an appropriate setting and time for the discussion with whoever you are having the mutual expectations discussion. Some people will want time to think about their answers so best to give a few days warning rather than catch someone cold with the discussion.

It's a good practice to check in regularly with each other to see how you are both doing measured against the mutual expectations, that can always be revised and tweaked as time goes on. Might want to keep a copy with you at all times.

Who should we have mutual expectations discussions with? This works as well at home as it does at work. For those of you with spouses, partners, children etc. -- have you asked them what they need from you to be successful? Typically it works better as a one-on-one discussion, not as a group, same at work.

3. Can you do something about 'it'?

What does this mean? First, decide what the 'it' is. Focus on your own sphere of influence and control and don't waste a single heartbeat on anything that falls into your sphere of concern and beyond.

Why is this so important? In today's VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world there is so much happening every second of every day that a normal human brain just can't cope with all of the potential inputs. Instant access to information, all be it tragedies -- man made or otherwise -- are happening continually and as individuals we can expend an incredible amount of effort and energy on what I term as "wasting heartbeats" being concerned about things we can do absolutely nothing about.

This is neither healthy nor productive.

How do you decide what's important?

One way is take a lesson from Covey's model. Starting at the center with the question to yourself "What can I actually control?" Make a list of all that you can really control. The list won't be very long.

Then moving out to the next level, ask yourself "What can I actually influence?" You may want to break this into categories like spokes of a wheel. Each spoke represents a different facet of your life -- as you envisage your own circumstances. Who and what is important to you in the various aspects at home, family, friends, work, community, etc. If you can influence in some way or another, then it must be something you can do something about. Make a list of all that you can influence.

If you can't do something about 'it', yet it is something that worries, concerns, disappoints or frustrates you then it should live firmly in the sphere of concern. An example could be the weather, taxes, wars, politics -- the list goes on. The key is that it's YOUR list, just keep in mind -- IF you can't do something about then why let it influence you?

Who gets impacted once you have decided if you can or can't do something about 'it'? You may be surprised once you have worked the list just how much time and energy you have put into things that really haven't in way or form changed because you decided to worry about them.

The first person to be positively impacted by taking this approach will be you. I will share with you that since I made a conscious decision to start this process 10 years ago I have never been frustrated, angry or disappointed since. There have been plenty of opportunities for me to have allowed myself to start feeling one of those emotional triggers but if you think about it, others can't make me angry or frustrated, that's up to me if I want to allow it or not. Am pretty sure this has been much better for all those with whom I come into contact both at home and all other aspects of my life.

Be powerful - remain humble.