In giving you a very candid snap shot from my life, I wanted to write about a situation that is current and had been challenging for me concerning the expectations I had of others. I like to keep my topics related to top performance and personal top performance is absolutely affected by others and the reliance on the organization, team, band, community and family.
I just had a conversation with a friend about my frustration associated with getting my new book cover into the printer to get the books printed and shipped to the distributor. I have a fantastic designer. I also had an expectation that he would produce the finished cover two weeks ago. At the time of this writing, we are theoretically 17 days beyond the deadline to get the final cover and inside text in to come within the three-week estimation to get the books to distributor by August 7. This all affects my reputation, my book release party and ultimately my performance as an author.
I became angry at the designer for making me believe that he could get the book graphics finished to spec in the designated time. Based on the story I’m about to give you, I learned a lesson that has enabled me to take full responsibility and has educated me on how to operate from a position of power and ease.
My friend’s dad, Eddie was a craftsman/builder. He was skilled in most areas and was considered an expert house builder. He was hired by a company to oversee a project as a foreman. He did such an extraordinary job that he got offered a better job working for a bigger company that wanted him to oversee three projects. My friend was a teenager at the time and began working for him as a apprentice. He was doing odd jobs like picking up supplies.
One day he was asked by the carpenter to pick up eight 2”x4”x8’ pieces of wood for a project. He did just that. The next day the carpenter was scrambling to finish the job as this job so he could go on to another project on the same site; the others were relying on him to frame another project. The carpenter miscalculated so he sent my friend to the store to get him more wood. He aggressively barked at my friend to quickly get him four more pieces of wood. My friend did just that.
My friend brought the wood and the carpenter in his haste realized that he needed at least four or possibly eight more pieces but by this time the local store was closed. To add to the stress, they were working into the night because they were behind schedule. The carpenter yelled some more and told my friend he could go home.
The next morning my friend went to the store for the carpenter to get him eight more pieces but it turns out that since the carpenter was adding on to an existing structure, he missed a defect in the structure and he had to reassess the job, pull down some of the work he had done and start over again. The carpenter went on to the next project three days later than expected, snarling and cussing the entire time!
My friend was surprised at that a carpenter who worked for his dad would be so volatile and inaccurate in his estimate of time and resources. My friend went to talk to Eddie about it and Eddie started laughing. My buddy was confused. Eddie explained that he had learned that no matter what anyone says they need, you should multiply it by three. No matter how long anyone thinks someone will take, you multiply it by three. These guys are not in control of the production and everyone is relying on someone else for the project to actually come in on time and on budget. So Eddie’s rule: take every promise and multiply it or divide it by three to always be on time and within budget. That’s the rule and that’s he operates when he gives the estimate to his client; that way he looks great when things come in under budget and in less time
So when it’s time to print my next book and the designer says he can get me the completed and formatted graphics done in a week, I’ll plan for three. If he says it will cost 10K, I’ll plan for 30.
Conversely when I make an agreement, I’ll do my best to be the one who comes in under time and under budget! That’s just good business and precipitates top performance.
Mark Schulman 2015