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March Update

[fusion_builder_container background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”2_3″ last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

 

[/fusion_text][fusion_text]Alaska-Gear-Pile[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_3″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”100″ bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]I’m taking inventory this morning. Literally. The dry-run (so to speak) for new equipment and new skills up in Alaska is now less than one month away and while I’m still short a few small items, it’s hard to ignore the size (and perhaps more importantly, the weight) of my gear pile. Nontheless, my mind is on equipment today.

 

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]I grew up in South Texas, the only son of an engineer, so having “the right tool for the right job” is not a foreign concept to me. I distinctly remember walking into an auto mechanic shop as a teenager with my dad and him saying to me, “want to know how professional these guys are? Look at how well they take of the tools.” The life skill that developed is an arcane ability to walk into any big-box store and fortunately find something critical that I didn’t even know I needed.

As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life acquiring and taking care of things. And if you’re in business, especially if you operate your own business, I know you’ve done the same. Success, after all, is easily correlated to having the right stuff to get the job done. And despite our ability to accumulate stuff, we often feel that something is missing. And so there are those who would have you believe that simply by purchasing or subscribing to their tool, their process, or their product you will achieve the results you’re longing for.

Determining the Need – This Tool Does What?

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”2_3″ last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Like most things in life, there is a tradeoff to be had when selecting the right tool. On the one hand, a simple tool, like a hammer, keeps life simple, but as the saying goes: every problem ends up looking like a nail. A complex tool, say a Swiss army knife, on the other hand, may offer a lot of solutions but is unwieldy, complex, and has a steep learning curve to implement: just knowing what each function of the tool can do takes time, then learning how to use each feature (and sometimes even remembering that you can use it) takes even more time. Even among similar tools, there can be enough differences that you may still mistakenly choose the wrong one and the end result may not be pretty. If only success were as simple as owning the right tool.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_3″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]swiss_army_knife007[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Snow-Foot

So once you have some tools, you’re going to need a place to store them. I work at home so I’ve split my equipment into two piles: things that get my clothes dirty are kept in the garage workshop, and pretty much everything else I own my wife makes me keep in my office. In both spaces I have two categories of things: stuff that needs to be worked on, and stuff I might need in order to work on other stuff. The place is largely irrelevant – yours may be a closet, a workroom, a server room, or an entire facility. The point is that it’s important to have a place to keep your stuff so that work can be done… or appear to be getting done.

Image is Everything

In business, appearance means more than many of us realize. And while careful attention may be paid to our personal appearance and even the tools we carry, neglecting the organizational appearance of our workspace has a clear link to expected performance.

I recently walked into an office for a quick introduction and was fully distracted by the disorder. There must have been fifty individual papers – some printed emails, some handwritten notes on copy paper, and at least one candy wrapper – just spread out across the desk. Not a file folder or “in box” in sight. I have no idea what would be in a drawer, but I longed to open one just to find out. I wanted to ask, “So is this the way you think?” But I’m pretty sure I already knew the answer.

Along with establishing a sense of structure and order, an organized work environment promotes… well, organized work. Care for your workspace demonstrates your intention towards detail, cleanliness and thoughtful planning to both customers and colleagues. This is why you should keep you stuff where no one else can actually see it – just write about in a company brochure or make some references to your “proprietary methods” on your website. Or, more seriously, get organized.

To be clear, I’m not advocating discovering a new level of OCD, but checking in on tools that are used to perform work critical to clients or used to support of your team is a responsibility all workplace leaders have. This is the critical consideration that I often discover is missing.

Tools are for Users

Tools play a critical role in the history of human development. From the Oldowan Toolkit to the Apollo Lunar Module, we have looked over the hilltop and into the heavens to adapt to life’s biggest challenges and discover what’s next. Our tools have enabled us to become increasingly successful at everything that we’ve put our mind to from establishing shelter and surviving predators to posting selfies and microwaving pizza rolls. No matter the tool, no matter the equipment, effective performance is always contingent the operator.

To some extent, we are all reliant upon one another for our subsistence, our creativity, our abilities, and ultimately our happiness. It’s the human part of us that impacts others most. When we experience great customer service, for example, we credit the person who provided it. “Terry was great!” we say, not “Man that Tele-Mate 2000 system really transferred my call efficiently. I bet you guys have metrics out the wazoo.”

As I cull through my current gear – separating items that will make the next expedition from those that will not be used again – I curiously caught myself clinging to a few items that had little use but some assigned sentimental value. That probably isn’t so strange and I imagine that it requires little explanation. But it’s equally as curious that I can’t remember ever doing that with office stuff. No one has ever said to me, “Don’t throw that out. That’s the fax machine we used the first year we broke $1 million is sales.” Why is it that the tools themselves don’t get the glory?

Because it’s the People that Make the Difference

Simply owning the tool doesn’t guarantee the organization (or the expedition) success. Pay less attention to the latest tool and more attention to the talent. At the end of the day, it’s not about the equipment that made it to the summit; it’s about the people at the top.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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