Five Fall Reflections for Marketing Leaders

Lisa's 5 favorite quotes to improve your decision-making

You return from a much-needed summer holiday, only to find hundreds of unanswered emails. September meetings turn your calendar into overflow mode. And your VP of Sales reminds you the demand gen machine needs a boost for Q4.  No time to reflect. Sound familiar?

Here’s the good news. When the pace intensifies, we have a choice. We can either dive in, head first, and invoke high stress levels…or we can calm our mind and increase our efficacy.

I believe it is time to commit to being more, not doing more. I suggest you ease into fall by creating time to reflect.

Sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it? Yet walking in nature, reading poetry, practicing yoga, or meditating gives us a timeless gift. It allows us to create a one-second “mental space” between stimulus and our response to it. (Here’s what organization development experts say about mindfulness in a recent Harvard Business Review post.)

Rushing through a daily “to do” list, conversely, can lead to personality clashes, unnecessary upsets, and poor performance. It can be especially jarring to our system if we shift too quickly from summer holiday to fall frenzy mode.

I’m hereby granting you a one second mental space by providing my top five reflections of the year. Pick your favorite. Don’t judge it or compare it to your other favorite quotes. Just. Read. 

1. “A clarity of mission shortens the discussion.” – Daryl Conner.

I ranked this #1 for a reason: as a marketing leader, you are most likely preparing some important research for your upcoming 2019 strategic planning meeting. It’s easy to get mired in those details. 

Instead, step back, and verify with your executive peers whether your mission is clear and consistent across all channels. Then let that mission drive your research and customer interactions.

Daryl has been one of my avatars for over two decades. This aphorism explains why.

2. “Leaders who think the timing is not right (for a major transformation, or for creating time to think) habitually fall behind their competitors, and they fall short on innovation.” – Alan Weiss.

It took me 31 years to test this one. Weiss is 100% correct. I have scores of examples.

Sadly, too many CMOs never think the timing is right for thinking strategically and reflecting on their careers. They operate in isolation. That’s why I see a huge divide between order takers and innovators. The fancy titles can be misleading.

3. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In these trying socio-political times, we are witnessing the demise of civil discourse. How can each of us restore that time-honored tradition? It starts at home. Staying principled yet open-minded are behaviors to guide our daily interactions—especially when we encounter resistance to our ideas. 

Unfriending a civil dissenter on Facebook is not always the answer, and only fuels confirmation bias. The same principle is true when we build marketing teams.

4. “Never question in the dark the choices you made in the light.” Cathy Hawk.

I have made some very difficult choices this year. Some were personal losses and triggered immeasurable grief.

Over the span of just two months, I unraveled two key alliances that were not meeting expectations—or unsafe to continue. I sunset one of my product offerings.

I second-guessed myself on many occasions after those choices. Then my coach, Cathy Hawk, reminded me of my purpose: fostering healthy marketing communities and vibrant leaders. That keeps me on course.

What choices are you making in the light? In times of conflict and doubt, how do you keep them shining brightly and stay purposeful?

5. “Yesterday, I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi, 13th century Persian poet.

How often have we caught ourselves focused on fixing things, people and situations—and ignoring our own needs? When I face a crisis, it’s tempting to avoid the root cause, or to confront conflict head-on. I can fill my calendar with tasks and projects in a heartbeat. Then I’m surprised when the crisis gets consumes me.

One of my fitness friends works with newly-minted Marines at an undisclosed Department of Defense location. She told me that when they face a personal or professional crisis, they immediately tell each other to “tough it out” and “get over it.” As a seasoned executive, she offers them a different approach: don’t give advice unless asked—and allow the other person some time to vent or grieve.

I hope these wise words help you effectively manage the fall frenzy.

Which aphorism resonates with you? Share in comments below

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Make Resilience Your “New Normal”

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