Magazine Column

*Business Strategies: An Enemy Called Average*

**By Michael Hammond**

***There are many things that have been said about today’s mortgage market but words like thriving,

booming and easy are not among them. In order to compete and grow in today’s changing markets

and ultra competitive environment, companies must foster a competitive spirit. It is imperative

to instill a commitment to excellence within their organization if they are going to be able to grow.

****The major roadblock to achieving this is what I call, “an enemy called average.” What does that

mean? People are fine with just getting by. Society has taught some that it’s ok to do the bare minimum.

These people think that they are entitled to certain things, so they don’t strive for more. As a

result, they become content with just getting by and doing just what’s expected and nothing more.

When you’re average, that detracts from you ever becoming great. You don’t have that competitive

spirit or drive, in other words.

****What’s fueling that is a sense of entitlement. People feel like the world owes them something, so

they take things for granted and expect things without having to put forth the work or effort to accomplish

tasks and overall success. Unfortunately, that starts at a young age in this society. Kids are

programmed to get what they want when they want it.

****It’s all about instant gratification.

The bigger problem is that you see this in all aspects

life. As kids grow and participate in sports, for

example, think they’re entitled to playing time, just

because they showed up for practice. It doesn’t matter

if they’ve acquired the requisite skills or put forth the

effort at practice, they feel that they deserve to play and

so do their parents.

****Further, just because Johnny spent an hour doing his homework, doesn’t mean that he understands

the lesson and deserves an A. The school systems are also falling into the trap of being average because

they don’t want to label exceptional effort or kids that need more help. They think they’re helping these

kids, but in reality, they are crippling these kids from working hard. Society wants to protect kids from

disappointment, but disappointment is part of life. What do I mean? Somebody gets the job, somebody

doesn’t. Somebody gets the promotion, somebody doesn’t. By creating this sterile environment, we do

kids a huge disservice.

****So, after a life of having things handed to them, of being protected from criticism, these kids enter

the workforce and just wait for something good to happen to them. They expect and feel like they

deserve a given position or title even if they haven’t proven themselves. They want a lifestyle without

putting out the effort to accomplish that goal. What this does is produce a whole generation in our

workforce today that’s ok with mediocrity.

So, they stop growing. They don’t strive for greatness. They are not looking to excel. They’re not

teachable, and they give up the first time things get tough because they have been insolated and they are

used to getting what they want without doing anything to deserve that reward. When someone critiques

them or out performs them, they don’t know how to respond.

What this leads to is these individuals not being adequately prepared for business or life in

general. They don’t follow through when

things get tough. They shirk accountability.

****In the end, they are not able to self

analyze their situation in order to realize

what needs to be done for them to move

forward. What we have is a generation of

whiners that haven’t learned how to win.

I recently read a book by Keith Cameron

Smith called The 10 Distinctions Between

Winners and Whiners. It was a good

read. Here’s the premise of the book:

****Distinction # 10: Winners take responsibility.

Whiners play the victim.

****Distinction #9: Winners can have what they want. Whiners

want what they cannot have.

****Distinction #8: Winners find a way. Whiners find an excuse.

****Distinction #7: Winners brighten a room by entering. Whiners

brighten a room by leaving.

****Distinction #6: Winners listen twice as much as they talk.

Whiners talk twice as much as they listen.

****Distinction #5: Winners enjoy life’s journey. Whiners put

their joy in the destinations.

****Distinction #4: Winners build friendships. Whiners destroy


****Distinction #3: Winners think big. Whiners think small.

****Distinction #2: Winners are focus-minded. Whiners are


****Distinction #1 Winners create positive meanings. Whiners

create negative meanings.

****As employers, you have to understand that this sense of entitlement

and this enemy called average has permeated the workforce.

If this is not addressed, it can stifle future growth.

****How do you address it? It’s important to create a spirit of

competition and a spirit that strives for excellence. I’m not talking

about perfection, but rather encouraging a spirit that is always

looking to improve. In creating that environment, what it

will deliver to the organization, is an understanding that life is

not fair. Some times you’re going to get the deal even if you

have the best solutions because their CEO is friends with your

competitor’s CEO.

****You can’t always control those situations, but you can always

control how you respond. No one owes you anything, and you’re

not entitled to anything. In other words, you have to go out and

earn everything. Goals and dreams are attained

through hard work and the desire to

never give up until you’ve accomplished

the task at hand.

****Fostering this environment for excellence

puts people in a position to succeed

and a place where they can be teachable

going forward. In doing so, once you start

rewarding performance, when you acknowledge

those that are succeeding and

those people are striving to get their head

above the rest and their efforts are rewarded

as a result, we start breaking the self-entitlement

bubble. We don’t accept average anymore and individuals

learn discipline, accountability, determination, a willingness

to accept critique, a desire to constantly learn, and at the end of

the day it raises everyone’s game. Now that encourages others to

strive for greatness, too.

****Organizations that promote this type of environment demonstrate

that there are no limits on what the individual can accomplish

and what they can contribute to the organization. You

inspire workers to look beyond the boundaries and look outside

the box. That spirit of competition fosters continual growth. In

the end, the company wins and the individual wins because they

are more willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

Make no mistake, this doesn’t happen overnight. If the company

promotes ongoing learning, sets forth a vision, and reward

risk taking and give incentives to individuals that have gone above

and beyond, they can eliminate this enemy called average.

I know you’re asking; “What does this mean for my business?”

****As a technology vendor, if you foster this environment

instead of having a sales team that just takes orders, is not persistent

and doesn’t follow through, this strategy will get you a

staff that will move past those hurdles and improve your bottom

line as a result.

****As a lender, when this competitive spirit is part of your culture,

your employees will seek ways to produce better quality

loans, increase transparency and they’ll continue to battle for

borrowers even though origination volume is expected to decline

this year.

****Companies must eliminate a sense of entitlement and create

a competitive environment where everyone strives for excellence.

****ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and the founder and president of

NexLevel Advisors. NexLevel provides solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations

and social media. He can be reached at