I spent yesterday with my family at Michigan Adventure, an amusement park with roller coasters, other types of rides and a full water park.
My family chose to spend the day at the water park. As I sat in a tube on rides, laid in a chair in the sun or shade, let the waves crash over me in the wave pool, and drifted down the lazy river, I was watching what was going on around me.
And – as you might expect – I found plenty of lessons for all of us as leaders. I thought I would share four of them with you:
People will work hard for the right reward.
The picture above shows people carrying large tubes. Each holds 2-3 people and probably weighs about 60 pounds. People carry those tubes up a long grade and several sets of stairs, so they can wait in line for a short (but very fun) ride back down. I willingly did this several times myself. It made me think about the number of people carrying them who would normally never work that hard physically, yet with the right end result they do so willingly.
Lesson: If you want to influence people, think first about how they will benefit from the effort. If the personal benefit is big enough, you will have great success!
Planning ahead is (very) important.
I was amazed at the number of people who seemed to be ill prepared for a day in the water and around lots of people. Why would a woman carry an expensive purse around on the lazy river working hard to keep it dry? Granted I don’t carry a purse, but it seems to me with a little planning there were many other options there. A locker? A smaller waterproof bag? Leave it in the car? That’s maybe not a perfect example, but I could also mention all the people who clearly needed sunscreen. Didn’t they bring any?
Lesson: In most areas of life, planning will aid you. Whether you are a planner by nature or not, spend some time (even if just a few minutes) planning to be most successful, especially for events and situations that matter to you.
Dressing for success is under-rated.
As a young professional my boss made me read Dress for Success. While some of the specifics of that book may now be outdated and dress codes haven’t gotten much more relaxed in general (that is a whole other post), the point still matters. I know you are thinking, “There’s a dress code for the water park?” Not really, other than shoes are required in certain areas, but wearing both black shorts and shirts in 90+ degree heat doesn’t seem very successful to me.
Lesson: Perception does matter. Think a little bit more carefully about what you wear in any situation. You don’t need to be a fashionista, but how you dress does make a difference and contributes to your success.
Contrarian thinking pays. If your goal at an amusement park is to maximize number of rides, you must minimize your wait time. We entered the grounds and went straight to the water park. Others joined lengthening lines for the coasters opting to “wait until it was hotter to hit the water park”. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the water park to open, but could ride immediately with no waits. Was it as hot as it was in the middle of the day? No. But, it was still plenty warm to enjoy the water. Later in the day, when everyone was standing in lines for water rides, the coaster lines were very short (although we chose to not head that way).
Lesson: Sometimes it pays to go against the flow of common thinking. Think about your goals and work from there, rather than simply going with popular opinion and action.
Ultimately, our goals were met – fun, sun, lots of rides and great family time. Regardless if you’re at the water park or walking into the executive boardroom – if you follow these suggestions you’ll have greater success.