If you haven’t read Kenneth Blanchard’s One Minute Manager series, you should. Even though the first one was originally published twenty years ago, the books are still relevant today. In fact, I feel so strongly about Blanchard’s ideas that I’ve incorporated his four stages of development into my own business philosophy. Here’s a quick explanation of the four stages you should get familiar with if you’re starting something new:
Orientation: This is the first phase of your new project or endeavor. Your energy is high and you’re feeling positive. This positivity causes an interesting side affect, though—an initial lack of direction. If you have an unrealistic expectation of how easy success will be, you can’t properly plan for the challenges you’re sure to face.
Dissatisfaction: This is where you figure out that success isn’t as easy as you though it would be. This stage is the natural reaction to trying hard and meeting little success. Your energy drops and direction is still low. This is also where most people give up.
Resolution: This is where you finally achieve some success. Your energy is still low, but you have stronger direction because you’ve gained the skills you need and you’re finally able to envision a future for your new business or project. Some people still give up here, because they have a better idea of what it will take to succeed and they don’t have the energy or resources to pull it off. But those who do make it through the Resolution stage are usually equipped with a good plan for success.
Production: Aim to stay in this phase for as long as you can. This is where you start to achieve your goals. Your energy is high and so is your direction. Success follows success, until you’ve achieved something consistent and reliable. This stage is hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Now that you understand the four stages of success, I’ll tell you the key to getting through them.
Lana and I often felt discouraged during the Dissatisfaction phase, but we followed Blanchard’s advice and clarified our purpose, worked with people who made us feel empowered, and learned to be more flexible. We also spent a lot of time with our mentors, who made recommendations and encouraged us. We followed their advice and kept working away and honing our skills. We met with a lot of different people and learned plenty. One of my key takeaways: looking like a gangster doesn’t open a lot of doors.
After lots of trial and error, we learned to be more effective and eventually found success. Looking back, I can confidently say that staying positive throughout each of the stages was the key to successfully reaching the Production stage. We also learned that we don’t have to wait for the Production stage to adopt the right attitude—it’s possible to keep our spirits up, our energy high, and our outlook positive, even when you’re struggling through the Dissatisfaction and Resolution stages.
Mahatma Gandhi sums it all up perfectly:
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”