Beginning Better: 9 Tips for Successful Starts

How you begin matters.

Prepare the team. Reinforce the vision. Energize the plans. Refresh the excitement.

Do you begin well?

“Let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.”
~Muriel Rukeyser

A Sweet Story of Beginning Well

This Sunday, I watched our youth choir director warming up the kids by playing a game.

When she said “Ready” the kids all perfected their posture and looked at her with attentive eyes and big grins.

Then, “Not Ready” they got to be as silly as they wanted (they loved that).

Until she again said, “Ready” and they immediately assumed their sweet singing stance.

Brilliant.

She had them visualizing and embodying exactly she needed from them without telling, they were showing.

I asked one of the kids why this works, “Ms. Allison is great because she teaches us and we don’t even know it.”

Yes, she is a great teacher and leader who knows the importance of great beginnings.

Beginning for Grown-ups

Since church came next, I had lots of time to think about beginnings and the leaders I have known who have mastered the art of beginning well.

  • Call centers where every leader is visible on the floor for the first hour of each shift, greeting and inspiring and checking the temperature
  • Retail stores with pre-opening huddles to create energized focus and fantastic service
  • Leaders with remote teams calling and checking in with each team member at the beginning of the day
  • “You’ve got this” calls to team members headed into a big event, presentation or interview
  • Use of technology for virtual connection and early morning inspiration
  • Caffeine distribution yup, I have been known to drive from location to location with a trunk of Red Bull on important days
  • …???

Tips for Beginning Well

The art to beginning well can be learned. It requires a deliberate approach and focused energy. Here’s some tried and true techniques.

  • Start with big energy differentiate important days by making them feel like holidays
  • Reinforce the vision and goals
  • Explain why this day or project is vital to the bigger picture
  • Help the team visualize success “how will we know this day was amazing what will have happened?”
  • Set specific, individual goals
  • Establish celebration milestones throughout the day or project
  • Be visible and interact either face to face or virtually
  • Role model “ready”
  • Have them role model “ready”
  • ____what tips do you have?

Please share: What works best for you when beginning something new?

Beginning With Questions

Beginning well is an art. Taking a deliberate approach to how we start something new, can lay the groundwork for future success.

Firefighters Beginning Well

Last night I had fish tacos with about 20 firefighters.

Well, not actually real firefighters– yet, that will happen tomorrow after graduation.

This was a team of new “recruits” finishing their 12 week, intense, training academy ready to begin their new lives of public service.

The tacos were not remarkable, but the energy and excitement in the air was palpable. This was a group of folks up to something. Each recruit I spoke with had a different background and reason for joining. What they had in common was the passionate expression that this is what they “were meant to do” next in their lives.

What a feeling to be surrounded by new beginnings.

What struck me most throughout the evening was the intense level of questioning.

Mostly I heard the questions these recruits were asking themselves. It was an interesting parade of extroverted self-reflection.

  • What is the most important contribution I will make?
  • How will I respond to fear?
  • What will this mean for my family?
  • What will my role be on the team?
  • What if?

As leaders, the questions we ask ourselves are vital, particularly as we start something new.

Here are a few questions I find my self pondering as I enter a new gig or start work with a new team.

Leadership Questions for Beginning Well

About the Work

  • What one thing will our organization be known for above all else?
  • Where can we have the biggest impact to the big scene?
  • What’s the most broken?
  • What shouldn’t we change, no matter what?

About the People

  • Who are the rock stars, and what do they need?
  • Who is already leading this team?
  • Who can I help?

About Me

  • What strengths must I leverage to lead this team well?
  • What mistakes did I make in my last role, which I can’t make again?
  • Which of my weaknesses are likely to surface here?
  • Who do I need to call on for help?

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