"Business with a Tropical Attitude"
First, take a moment to embrace the colors of the tropics. We're talking vivid green palms, crystal blue lagoons, fiery red sunsets. These are not colors for wimps. Mauve and taupe are not found below the 30th parallel, except on the backs of tackily-dressed tourists from colder climates.
No, tropical colors are bold and straightforward. They imply some risk-taking, a willingness to hang it out there, a willingness to take a chance on hearing a "No" for the opportunity to hear a "Yes." We won't move ahead by always playing it safe. If something is really worth doing, really worth risking the consequences, it's boldness of action that brings those dreams to fruition. Be bright. Be bold. Be tropical.
Tropical colors are also about contrast. They're about bright colors, multiple colors, laid side by side; clear lines of definition that command attention and assist recognition. Do you claim to be "the leading provider of premier solutions to valued business partners"? Bad news - you've got a case of Lookalika disease. I recommend a trip to the tropics for treatment, healing, and therapy, not necessarily in that order.
Take the poinsettia plant. The contrast of the red leaves against the green makes that plant stand out in a stunning way - especially when they grow six feet tall in the tropics! We need to stand out in our environment, or get lost in the background. We need to clearly separate ourselves from the people who compete in our space. We need fresh lines of definition so that people can understand how we're different in a positive way. That brightness and clarity makes it easy for people to find you, identify you, and do business with you.
A tropical attitude also respects diversity. Tropical rain forests cover less than 6% of the Earth's total land surface, yet they are home for up to 3/4 of all known species of plants and animals. Much of the beauty of the tropics stems from the variety of foliage and the animal life it supports.
We, too, lose our vibrancy, our "Wow!", when we're all the same. Yet many organizations seem to think they can conquer their market by mandating paramilitary processes and straight-line thinking. IBM became famous (or is it infamous - I get those two mixed up) for their salesforce of blue suits and white shirts.
Of course, things are different today. Many organizations recognize that diversity of culture, race, gender and, ultimately, thinking is where their innovation and top performance comes from. This is despite the fact that it takes more effort on our parts to learn to live and work together when we're all so different.
As Steven Covey puts it in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "It's unity, not sameness, that's cool." (I paraphrased a little). When you embrace a tropical attitude to respect and unify diversity, you'll have all the competitive edge your business will ever need.
And how could you have a tropical attitude and not be warm and friendly? I want to feel good and smile at people for no apparent reason. When I wave at people, I'd like them to feel good about waving back. OK, maybe they could just return my voice mail.
Sure, we all know that people do business with people, and relationships are important. So let's drop the unfriendly behavior, like taking cell phone calls in the middle of a conversation, or multi-tasking when we should be focusing on the relationship at hand.
If people really do business with people they like, what are you doing to make it easy for people to like you? Take on a tropical attitude and help your customers and co-workers warm up to you. Stop being so busy once in a while. And wherever you are, be there.
A tropical attitude will help you relax. When you're enjoying the tropics, you're relaxed, you act more natural. When you operate in a relaxed, natural state, your personal strengths and talents can shine through. The best part of you is brought to the party. You don't even need a margarita to "loosen up!"
You can use the best of your own style and personality to get the job done in a way that's natural for you, in a way that feels right, that "fits." The paradox is that you'll get to your desired results quicker when you don't rush to them.
In sports, players talk about being in "the Zone," when everything comes together and you just become unstoppable. Sure, first you prepare, you practice, you get ready to go. Then it's time to lighten up, let go and play your game in your own way. Don't worry, be scrappy!
Now don't think for a moment that having a tropical attitude is unprofessional. A tropical attitude is professional; it's just not formal. When I hear someone say, "We're professionals," the first words that come to mind are stiff, boring, dead. It's difficult to foster genuine business relationships when you're stiff and boring, and impossible when you're dead. First and foremost, a professional shows genuine care, consideration, and respect for the other person. They listen carefully, respond decidedly, and act with integrity.
Following formalities can actually get in the way of professionalism, because they are artificial and can disguise the real you. "How are you?" - "I'm fine, thank you." Did a real exchange take place? "May I help you?" - "No, thanks, I'm just looking!" Can't we communicate better than that? After all, a tropical attitude is vivid and bright, without being shocking or obtrusive. Perhaps you can rework some of your conventions and rituals of business to reveal your professionalism in an informal way. Let your tropical attitude reflect the real you and show what you stand for.
Perhaps most of all, the tropical environment is alive. It has its own energy and vibrancy that stimulates powerful creative forces and allows the mind to find new solutions to old problems. From the first promise of a sunrise to the final reassurance of a sunset, the fresh patterns and hues that change with the light of day can help you make new connections and discover new options.
The tropics let you think without actually making you think. Ah, paradise! Bright, active, energizing, and alive - just the way I prefer to feel every day on the job. You'll learn to enjoy every day and expect success when you start doing business with a tropical attitude.
© 2000 Paul Johnson. All rights reserved.
About The Author:
Paul Johnson of Panache and Systems LLC consults and speaks on business strategy for systematically boosting sales performance using Shortcuts to Yes™. Check out more salesforce development tips at http://panache-yes.com/tips.html. Call Paul direct in Atlanta, Georgia, USA at (770) 271-7719.
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