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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: The sea-change

“Full fathom five thy father lies,

Of his bones are coral made,

Those are pearls that were his eyes,

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change,

into something rich and strange,

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,


Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.”

Thus sings Ariel to Ferdinand (a prince of Naples) after his father’s apparent death by drowning in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Once again, The Bard coins a phrase that has survived into the modern language as a term used to describe a metamorphosis or transformation.

Which reminds me of a post from last summer, repeated back to me during a recent call with a prospective new client.

The point being that there is no point in setting yourself a target that doesn’t require a sea-change in the performance and behaviour of you and your team.

You say:

“let’s aim at an extra 10-20% in profit and sales next year”

They hear:

“bloody hell, she wants us to work harder. We are already working flat-out. Just keep your head down and hopefully it will blow over”

You say:

“I’m going to grow the business 100% in the next 2 years”

They hear:

“bloody hell, she has had a meltdown. She’s read some book, been on a course, hired a coach. Just keep your head down and hopefully it will blow over”

The reality is that the first target probably will “blow over” once you get back in the rut of day-to-day business and dentistry.

A useful analogy is my decision to run the Barcelona Marathon in March 2015.

In the absence of the event, I run when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it.

When I commit to the event – I have to make a sea-change in my performance and behaviour:

  1. Longer training runs

  2. More frequent runs

  3. Low alcohol for 3 months

  4. Careful nutrition

  5. Losing a stone in weight in the next 70 days

Because if I don’t make those changes I’ll have a terrible day.

The difference between my marathon and your business is that I don’t have to carry the goodwill of a team with me – a marathon is a race with one entrant – yourself.

Your business is more of a relay team, with batons constantly passed from one runner to another.

You cannot expect a relay team to perform and behave if only one runner benefits if you cross the line – everyone must want to win because there is something in it for them.

That’s not just the money – don’t make that mistake.

The right people want to:

  1. Feel genuinely appreciated

  2. Feel as if what they are doing is “on purpose”

  3. Feel as if they have a career pathway

  4. Feel as if they want to be part of a winning team

Good money is important but pay and bonuses NEVER buy loyalty, commitment and endeavour.

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