Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Business Lessons from a Broken Foot

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What can be broken foot teach you about business? Well, as it turns out, several important lessons. Last Sunday I tripped while walking down my staircase at home and broke my foot and also tore my rotator cuff. Painful, but on the scale of things, just a small inconvenience. However, I have taken two excellent lessons away from this situation that perfectly relate to business.

 

 

DELEGATION

I might be pretty good at understanding how to run an organization,  build a high-performance team, create a winning culture, or increase levels of accountability – but I know absolutely nothing about the fifth metatarsal of my right foot, except that it’s broken. I have had no problem whatsoever admitting that this is not my expertise and delegating the care of my own personal foot to a doctor that is perhaps 15 to 20 years younger than me, but has a world more experience in dealing with how to heal a broken foot. I think this is a good lesson for a lot of business leaders to examine, just because you can run the company doesn’t mean that you can run every part of it. You have to realize where other people have more expertise and experience than you and then trust them to do the best they possibly can to deliver excellence in an area where you cannot. I would not trust my doctor to stand up and give a keynote address to 4,000 business people on strategy, but I absolutely trust him take care of my fifth metatarsal and return it to pinky toe excellence!

 

ASK FOR HELP

This is a big lesson a lot of business people need to learn, you can’t do it alone, you have to learn to ask for help. In my current situation as hop-along Cassidy I have had to admit that there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do without help. I can’t carry my own food or drinks, I can’t carry my briefcase, I can’t drive, I can’t get it out in and out of the shower… without help.  I’m not helpless, but I’m happy to admit there’s certain things that I just can’t do right now and I need to ask the people around me for help. For someone who is typically very independent, this is a big challenge, but in my current situation I have NO choice. I have struggled teaching this same idea to senior executives that I coach, they believe that they are supposed to be invincible, have all the answers and be able to fix any problem. That is simply not the truth. Nobody can handle the speed of change, the velocity of market factors, the constant acceleration of competition, and the massive challenge of managing a complex organization…by themselves. So, just like me who is hobbling around on crutches, senior executives need to get comfortable with asking for help. And here’s the key thing, most people are willing and eager to help, they see that you’re struggling, they see that you are having a hard time and they want to be there to assist you if you will only have enough courage to admit that you can’t do it by yourself and ask for help.

So those are two big ideas I take away from a broken foot. They are ideas that I’ve taught and coached to business people around the world, but it was brought just a little closer to home this week when they were wrapping my leg in a nice bright orange cast and I was told it would be on for 8 to 10 weeks. I have no option but to delegate and ask for help, and I would suggest that you have no option either.

 

PS – I have been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious management and business awards – the Thinkers 50. Although a great deal of the award is based on merit, there is a component based on voting. You can only vote once, and I would dearly appreciate it if you would take just a minute to vote for me if you feel I deserve it. They’re going to ask for some specific information so here is what you need to fill out the form:

Person who gets your vote: John Spence

That person’s title: Managing Partner

That person’s organization: John Spence, LLC

That person’s email address: John@johnspence.com

Thank you very, very, very much for your help!! John

Here is the link to the voting page: http://www.thinkers50.com/vote-2015/

***  If you have already voted – thank you soooo much for your support!!!

Comments

  1. alex turnbull says:

    Priceless Spence!

  2. Jean Feingold says:

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune, John. It seems you broke one of my cardinal rules – don’t fall down.

  3. Welson says:

    Great thoughts and lessons!

  4. Alex Beauroyre says:

    John
    Sorry to hear of your injury. I have gone through four lower back surgeries, I can understand your points.
    You have my vote.
    take care

  5. Kusal Goonewardena says:

    Thanks for the reflection John. Get well soon. Take care. Voted!

  6. Hi John. I slipped on something at the bottom of my stairs the same day as you broke your foot. I tore a ligament in my left foot and it hurt like heck. So imagine my amazement that you sustained much worse injuries on the same day. But you then went on to write a positive essay about what you (and we) learned about business from your disaster. I responded by complaining and canceling some business travel. This is why you’re you and I’m me. In any case I wish you a fast recovery. Call me if you need any encouragement 😉

  7. Sorry to hear about your foot, John! I think there are times when the universe slaps us over the head with a “SLOW DOWN!” One other positive that comes from being forced to ask for help is being allowed to see who is there when you really need it–even in business. If you’re built a great team and surrounded yourself with phenomenal people they’ll shine even brighter when you can’t. Rest up!

    • Thanks Stephanie, it is sort of a forced rest period, but I’m using it to shoot some new videos and my team has done an amazing job keeping things going. Hope everything is going great with you – take good care – John