This week I had a moment of what I like to call Low Self Esteem. Due to a lack of exercise, my hormones were off and my brain was not firing properly. When this happens Mean Voice ™ takes over and ‘not good enough’ mantra begins its loop in my brain. It was a bad day and I did eventually get over it but not before doing some Deep Thinking on the State of Things. As a typical Virgo, whenever I need to think things out, I make lists. I made lists of What Was Important, What Was Lacking. Why, How and What. Don’t look at me like that. I’m a Virgo.
As I made my lists I noticed a theme was forming. I was comparing myself and my path to other more successful people around me and catering to the Mean Voice. Not a good thing when your hormones are out of whack. But the Virgo part of my brain realized that maybe there was something lacking otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. In business there is a process companies use to gauge their progress called benchmarking. Let’s say you own a start-up perfume company that sells organic perfumes and body lotions all lovingly hand-crafted by free-range children. After a year or two, you notice Gen X Perfumes down the block from you is doing better and has recently launched a successful campaign showcasing their perfumes made from free range silk worms. The perfume is flying off the shelves and they have been featured in the local press. Now the hormonal and Mean Brain thing to do would be to throw a pity party and wail to the Universe how things are not fair.
Or.. you can sit down like a good Virgo and make a list and do a little benchmarking. What does Gen X Perfumes do that make them more successful? What processes do they use to rise above the competition and give their customers added value? The key, I have been told by my Project Management Husband, is to focus on the PROCESS. Obviously, you can’t be Gen X Perfumes with their Über budget but you can use their processes to make your business shine. It’s the same thing you can use when Mean Voice is comparing you to others.
During my recent trip to New Zealand with my dad and sister, I met many people in our tour group who had traveled to many exotic countries including the state of Missouri. Now, I love to travel (I just don’t like airports) and I found I was more than a little jealous I couldn’t “be like them” and go on Big Trips every year. Instead of wallowing in self pity and a checking account with a low balance, I can use the same benchmarking techniques above and their love for travel to “be more like them.” By examining what makes these people successful in their travels, I can start making changes to work toward my own goals. The key to benchmarking is understanding the difference in scales between them and you. While I might not be able to go to Tibet each year, I can plan for smaller trips RIGHT NOW and eventually end up in Tibet in 5 years.
Many of the guests on A Closer Look Radio discuss benchmarking and how you can use it for your own business or even your life to gain momentum and get out of ruts. I recommend listening to Pam’s interview she did last week with marketing guru Kelly McDonald. Kelly discusses the 2010 Census and the demographic changes in America. She noted we cannot take the same things for granted when we are benchmarking or marketing to potential clients. It can either be scary for those who don’t like change or exciting for those who want more than bologna on white bread with mayo.
So, now is the time I have to ask how YOU, gentle reader, can use benchmarking in your own pursuits to be and do better and get out of self-imposed ruts?