Comedian Jon Stewart's passionate (and scathing) speech to congress about the plight of 9/11 first responders last week is an example of one of thos
Comedian Jon Stewart’s passionate (and scathing) speech to congress about the plight of 9/11 first responders last week is an example of one of those things that just needs to be done because it is right, just, fair and almost obligatory.
Specifically, on June 11 this year, Stewart spoke in front of a congressional subcommittee to try and procure more money for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which helps people negatively affected by the tragedy, like the various first responders at the scene. Congress has yet to step up and earmark more funds for the program, which is slowly running dry.
It was such an impassioned speech that I honestly had tears in my eyes while watching it. He used his public speaking skills and his high profile as the former host of The Daily Show for an amazing cause.
And he did it because he sympathizes with the people who were on the front lines that day and who have suffered debilitating health issues because of it. This is one of those things that you just take for granted that should happen without a fight. But, as Stewart has learned, sometimes even those kinds of “the right thing to do” things are not a given by any means.
Sometimes people, governments and companies alike just have issues doing what needs to be done. Just ask Polaroid, Blockbuster video and any other number of companies that watched the world go by without adapting.
We don’t all have a Jon Stewart to make impassioned pleas on behalf of what should be done. Sometimes we just need to know when something needs to be done because it is right, fair or the entire company’s fate relies on action being taken.
Take these four steps to make sure you’re always doing what’s right for your company.
1. Give yourself time to look at the big picture.
While you’re thinking about making money today, don’t forget to dedicate some time to thinking about the future. If you make it a habit, the future won’t sneak up on you and force you into hurried decisions. (Or worse, sneak past you and leave you scrambling to catch up.)
My wife and I use our vacation time to reflect and think about the big picture of our company beyond just a few months. We discuss where we think our industry is headed and how we can make sure we are ahead of the game. This makes it easier to spot those must-do things.
2. Ask your team and stakeholders.
Dedicate some no-agenda free time to talk to people in your organization. Ask them for their input, how they see the industry, what their fears are and what opportunities they see for themselves or your business.
In our business we like to have time to talk to each individual team member at least once per year. This has proven to be extremely valuable for gathering insight into how to streamline operations and getting to know threats and opportunities we had not considered ourselves.
You will be surprised at what you can learn from your team. Not only will you get to know them on a deeper level, you will learn how to look at your industry from a different perspective.
I know it seems like not everyone can feel empathy, but it is a natural human element to not only be able to feel it, but to act on it, as well. Empathy helps us navigate the world. By putting yourself into others’ shoes, you can gain an appreciation of what needs to be done because it is an important thing to do and the right thing to do.
This is what Stewart did with the 9/11 first responders. It’s why my wife and I dedicate a lot of time and effort toward charitable efforts that help the homeless. We try to see the world from their perspective and it makes us aware of what must be done to help them.
4. Seek expert advice.
Budget some time at least once per year to get an expert into your organization to look things over, check under the hood and ask questions to make sure you’re on the right track. You can do one area each year. For example, hire an HR consultant one year, then an IT expert the next year and a sales consultant the year after that.
You may or may not decide to go with their advice, but even if you don’t follow it, find out their reasoning behind making a suggestion. They will see things differently than you and may be able to point out some obvious things you need to do that you aren’t even aware of.
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