Retail Observer

January 2015

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM JANUARY 2015 52 Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. RO O ne of the wonderful elements of mainstream American culture is a pioneering spirit and a can-do attitude. We love metaphors of the frontier, or the mountain range or the destination on the horizon. We've pulled up our bootstraps and rolled up our sleeves and put our noses to the grindstone. We value perseverance, persistence and an independent spirit. Once, I was quizzing a colleague from the UK about his perspectives on American business professionals—what did he like or not like about us? "Sometimes, American arrogance is annoying," he noted, "but what I really love about you is that you literally think you can do anything!" Yep. That's us. No challenge is too big. However, what often happens is that leaders think they must do this work, this challenging work of having great businesses—retail stores where people shop, clients who love us—on our own, by ourselves. We suffer for our independence and sometimes we create Academy-Award-winning dramas inside our heads about how we are all alone and we must do it alone. Not only is this a bit crazy, it's just downright wrong: we do nothing alone, and persisting in the notion that we do, creates unnecessary stress and is ultimately inefficient. You are not an island, and the quicker you recognize that your team, your customers, your vendors and suppliers are all part of the fabric of your success, you'll be able to leverage their great strengths along with yours to create something truly extraordinary. Consider these ideas: 1. Who supports your work vision as a leader? Look around and take note of those who are supporting you by aligning their language and their actions with the greater good of your company or organization. Make sure you are recognizing them for their contributions and their steadfastness. 2. Where are you receiving invisible help? Sometimes, we get assistance and we barely notice it. Who has extended ideas, resources, people, connections, networking or referrals? 3. Who are the people in your personal life who believe in you and to whom you turn? These people are on your "team," too, and they are likely the ones that give you real, honest feedback, or cheer you on when you're not feeling like you're on track. Take care with them—try not to spend all your time venting frustrations. Show them how you value their support in you. 4. How do you integrate your inner and outer life to build faith in yourself? Though this may seem counter-intuitive, your own congruence and personal integrity are essential. You can't actually accept or receive help from others, if you're not willing to experience radical vulnerability from time to time. How do you listen deeply to what you need, so that you recognize when you actually get it? Recently, I was honored as one of Greater Seattle's top 5 business women for 2014. As I stood on the Four Seasons' stage sharing my "story" with a room of 300+ business professionals from the area, I was grateful to say "thank you," to the twenty guests I had invited that night: my parents, my team, my accountant and banker, my good friends, business colleagues, a few treasured clients and even my hair stylist. All of these people are in my life boat; they support my work and my professional life. In truth, we've been receiving invisible and visible help since the day we were born. People seemingly out of nowhere show up to help us on our way, a simple conversation, someone who goes out of their way to coach or mentor us, even those who challenge or push against us create an opportunity for us to learn and to grow. Time to step off of the island and into the boat, looking out at the horizon, surrounded by those who are going to help you get there. YOU ARE NOT AN ISLAND: GET IN THE LIFEBOAT!

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