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The Do-ers
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The saying is you need to either fish or cut bait. In either case, you need to "do" something and make certain you have the Do-ers on your team.

It's time for another anecdote. What better example than all the reasons for not doing today's column and falling on my backside, allowing the flu to be my excuse for not performing? But there comes a time when, as you've made a commitment to do something, you have to fish or cut bait -- you must deliver and keep your credibility, your reliability, your reputation.

Harvey Mackay, author of Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive (Library Call Number 658.017 M1535), talks about his dad's turning in his story on breaking news in spite of enormous obstacles, a broken (leg or arm), nearly being run over by a speeding car, and a tip that went to the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong information. But Mackay says his dad not only delivered the accurate story on time, he delivered an award-winning one that beat the others to press. He didn't allow anything to stop his mission. He stayed focused on the goal, the finish line. It was only after the story was delivered via telephone that he realized he had a broken (whatever it was).

And so it was this past Monday. I was hot with fever. The hacking and coughing was relentless. I imagined my nose raw and scared within two days because of the enormous amount of tissue that was needed. But I had a deadline for two projects and no excuses. So I hiked to the remote location where I could work on one of those projects -- four miles.

All set up, I was ready to launch into the project and get to the midway or three-quarters point. Nope. I had half of the material. But the other half was not available. It was necessary to pack up and hike back -- four miles (and we just won't talk about why I was walking instead of riding) -- and start all over. Three hours wasted.

On the trek to the destination, laptop slung over shoulder, I started wearying. The laptop was getting heavier. The destination wasn't appearing. I was walking through the heart of Hollywood.

Folks, Hollywood is no longer a place of glamour and charm and eloquence -- if it ever was. Nope, the ruminants are street people, panhandlers, scammers and other colorful folk. So it was that when I went into my usual stop-any-stranger-and-ask-directions mode, I met with rejection at "Excuse me," or else arched backs that made a wide avoidance backward step to escape the woman who undoubtedly was about to pander for change.

You know me by now, yes? Not to be put off, the words were firm and distinct to the arching back and sidestepping frail figure, "Excuse me. Where is the (destination) in relation to here?"

The face brightened. Realization came over the pale face. This woman is okay. She wants to get to the place of enlightenment for good purposes. "Oh, it's two blocks up and one block over."

Okay. So we're supposed to be talking about overcoming obstacles and getting the job done. Right. I could have stayed home and moaned some more about being sick and not able to do anything. I could have felt sorry for myself and not delivered.

But you know what? I discovered that in spite of the fever and the other trappings of the flu, that eight-mile hike actually helped me overcome the flu! (That, along with the four oranges I bought on the way back and consumed in one sitting.)

Just Do It
So you're an employee and you've been given a task. It looks insurmountable. You've never done this before. You think you'll fail dismally and embarrass yourself. You'll live in shame the rest of your life because you didn't deliver on the project and -- worse than that -- it was so substandard that no one will ever speak to you again. Guess what. If you don't deliver, your reputation will be even worse. You'll be like our old friend, Sam -- all talk and no delivery.

Just get off your duff, focus and do. Ignore the other "noise" and distractions that are becoming excuses for doing something else and not what you're supposed to be doing. Get focused and stay focused and work on getting the best possible product to whoever is supposed to receive it. You'll retain your reputation. It may be enhanced. You may even be pleasantly surprised at how well you were actually able to accomplish it. Your customer or client will be more than glad that you delivered good product that they requested and it got to them so they could follow through on their project.

You'll also have a plumb accomplishment to put on your resume and discuss during an interview.

Get the One Who Does It
You managers and recruiters are looking for a person like Harvey Mackey's dad. The one who does not allow distractions and obstacles to get in the way of delivering the story. These are the key people to have on your team. You should be holding them up as examples to the rest so that they also will strive to make the same accomplishments.

The bottom line -- always that bottom line -- is maintaining goodwill. The bottom line is maintaining credibility. The bottom line is maintaining profitability and reducing costs to delivery.

The bottom line is having the Do-ers on your team -- the ones who find a way or make one to get the job done.

Originally published October 31, 2001


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