I have used the term, the ‘ninja mentality’ with my teams over the years.  What this means to me is the time in your career when you know all of the ‘moves’.  For example, I can work any position in a restaurant, (except a cook although I do make a mean banana muffin) I can manage any type of service orientated business, I can set up on office, service station or storage room…those tactical things prepare you to learn.  Once you have mastered all of the ‘moves’ you can actually stop moving.  Have you ever watched a ninja in battle?  They are in hand to hand combat with up to 10 people at a time…everyone is moving around them coming from all directions and they are defeating all opponents but they are standing still. They don’t waste a move…it takes years and years to be able to operate at that level.  It relates to your career…if you work at full capacity at all times in everything you do that degree of efficiency will inevitably be yours.

In order to get there…you can’t ever be ‘just okay’ at your job.  Doing only what is asked of you makes you a manager, a worker or a soldier.  Looking into the future, thinking about what is next, foreseeing potential obstacles and preparing for them in advance makes you a director and a lieutenant.  Taking all of the sweat of a worker, the experience of a manager and drive of a soldier, foresight of a director & organization of a lieutenant and creating something…makes you an INNOVATOR.

I recently took on a client with an IT related product, this is a first for me.  The more I learned about the product the more I loved it even though it was out of my comfort zone I kept pushing.  This product will be a success; I know this for sure.  How do I know this?  Because it is solving a problem in the hospitality industry…a problem the industry doesn’t even know it has yet.  Restaurants, hotel & nightclubs aren’t yet being effected by how behind they are technologically but it will soon have an effect on their revenue.  That is the true definition of innovation.

Part of this process is the ability to pivot to make it fit where it needs to.  That is the beauty of being a consultant.  This can be difficult for a large company…imagine carrying a 2-ton elephant and someone asking you swivel to the right.  Your response is, ‘I’m barely holding this beast up; if I move I will drop it.’  When a consultant, someone with great understanding of what you are carrying comes into the picture, as an outsider it is easy to see where there is some elasticity to move some of the weight while adjustments are being made.

Ken Tencer  has coined the phrase ‘frozen in the middle’ which he defines as being in the middle of a large corporation where concepts go to perish.  I do believe there is a lot of undiscovered improvements that are buzzing around in there.  They don’t have to die; if you are committed to the difference you can make you will refuse to be the status quo.  It takes a lot of determination to be better than okay…it will consume a lot of energy.  Innovation scares people, all of the naysayers will be around, you will have to defeat them all sometimes all at once (like a ninja).   The shortest route to this level of success starts today with the title to Tencer’s column, “Is it never okay to be just okay at your job.”

To read Tencer’s article in its entirety follow the link below.


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