Friday, July 31, 2009

There are no little things!

Recently, we've been reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. He's also the best-selling author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. One of the chapters in Outliers made a real impression on us. It analyzed the black box recordings of planes that have crashed. Although it's certainly not a very pleasant subject, some very important lessons can be applied to prevent the failure of any organization.

Gladwell mentions that contrary to what we see in movies and TV shows, a plane isn't usually brought down by any one big thing going wrong such as equipment malfunction or catastrophe, but rather, a series of at least seven small errors in combination. And, in many cases, the breakdown of communication between the flight crew and the captain is a primary cause of failures that could have otherwise been overcome.

As we were talking to some of the executives at the 4Life home office about this, President of Eurasia Emma Oganova commented that this same scenario can play out with our physical health. It isn't usually one big thing that brings us down, but rather, the cumulative effect of a lot of little choices. She said, "There really are no little things!"

We think this is also true of the interaction and communication of distributor team members. Take time to make sure you understand what others are trying to tell you. And, make certain they understand your feelings, intentions, and expectations. In one transcript of a plane that crashed, the pilot's communication with the air traffice controllers was very formal and polite until the very end, but he failed to communicate the urgency of his situation in a way that allowed air traffic controllers to respond appropriately. Let's make sure we say what we mean and mean what we say—in a way that all of our team members understand. This book gave us a lot to think about. We highly recommend it!

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2008.