Jun 20 2012

The Competitive Edge And The Importance of Setting Goals

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you get there?

by: Amy and Danielle

I have always been fascinated by competition. I especially love elite athletics. I love the Olympics! I’m astounded that some people choose to dedicate themselves to a pursuit and that among those people, some rise to the very top of their game. I’m amazed that some people have the drive to be the very best in the world at what they do.

I’m a born-again runner. I took up road racing in my 20s and then went on a decade-long hiatus to have kids. I’ve recently returned to the sport. I’ve joined a track club. I’m seeing my race times improve from what I accomplished years ago, and I know I can run faster still. I want to be faster. I am very competitivewith myself. I don’t have the desire to beat other people, I have a desire to be better than I’ve been before. It’s easy with racing—you know what time you ran the last race and you know what time you need to run to improve upon that. It’s a goal, right in front of you.
 
I always marvel at my business partner, Danielle, who excels at setting goals for herself and our company. She’s going to do a pull-up at the gym, she will grow a vegetable garden at her farm, she wants us to hit a certain revenue target at Admiral Road—it’s all consistent with what we talk about here at Mom Ink: The importance of setting goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know if you get there?
 
This week my daughter surprised me with a little goal setting of her own. Last fall she ran in her first running meet. She placed fourth and was really proud of herself. She had the Spring meet coming up and was deliberating it. As I tucked her into bed the other day, she shared with me her goal: “I want to finish in the top five.”
 
I was blown away. What possessed this nine-year-old, inexperienced runner to set herself a competitive goal like this?
 
But I loved it. I loved that she was thinking about what she could accomplish. I loved that she was challenging herself. I loved that, based on past performance, her goal was specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic.
 
This afternoon I stood proudly on the sidelines as my daughter ran by. She gave it her all. And guess where she placed? Fifth! And she was really proud of herself. 
 
Where does our competitive spirit come from? Are you competitive? What about your kids?
 
Jun 11 2012

Why You Should Never Criticize in Writing

Tough Talk

by: Amy and Danielle

When I was 19 and in my first year of university, my then 17-year-old roommate taught me a lesson that has served me well. She said that one should never write anything negative down to someone, rather deliver the message verbally. So, if you’re angry at your friend, tell her about it, don’t write to her about it. Think about it: It’s painful to hear criticism, and when it’s written down you can go back time and time again and relive that pain. The mind has a way of softening our memories of hearing difficult things. Plus, when we speak to each other about uncomfortable issues, we tend to try and find some resolution before the end of the conversation. It’s usually a softer experience all around.

This week it seemed everywhere I turned I saw people writing down things I just wish they wouldn’t. The don’t-write-it-down rule absolutely applies in your business life as much as it does in your personal life. Are you angry with a supplier who has let you down? Well, tell them, but don’t fire off a nasty e-mail. Cranky with a difficult customer? NEVER write an unpleasant e-mail! If you must, pick up the phone to get into it. Or, in the case of a customer, don’t bother—it’s bad for business and it’s never worth it. Think of it this way: Before you write an e-mail to anyone, ask yourself if you would be comfortable finding out they had read this e-mail on the day their mother died. In other words, imagine the recipient is having a terrible time. Would your e-mail help or hinder? There aren’t many messages that can’t be delivered civilly and there are lots of ways to let someone know you mean business without being rude.
 
Same goes for using social media. It’s so tempting to fire off a quick missive in response to something we see online. And who hasn’t wanted to blast a company they are having trouble with via Twitter or Facebook? Not only is it bad karma —remember there is an actual person at the other end of your communication—but it’s also bad for your personal brand and for you. Before you write anything online ask yourself if you are comfortable having it attributed to you for all time.
 
In short—look before you leap, and think twice before you hit ‘send.’

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