I remember the evening clearly. I was sitting at a dinner table with seven other gentlemen and at the head of that table sat our mentor. This gentleman was/is a seasoned CEO, accomplished author, thought leader, and now a very successful business owner. He had invited us to join him in a year long mentorship where we would gather at his home once a month to share war stories, ask questions, and share insights from our assigned reading and homework assignments.
During one of our sessions, a fellow mentee asking him the question: “What is the single trait which has helped you become successful in business and life?”
His answer was simple: “Responsiveness.”
His answer resonated with me that night and it has continued to echo in my thoughts, so much it has become part of my professional DNA. It is the official backbone of how I communicate and work with others. Plus, it is exactly how Brittney connects and communicates. It’s one of the traits which attracted me to her the most when we were dating.
My wife and I met on Tinder (yes, that Tinder). The early days of our dating consisted of texting and messaging. We took it up a notch and even added the “dreaded” phone into the mix. In all seriousness, our ability to be timely and open with communication is what brought us together so well. It quickly became the fabric to how we operate. Fast forward and and that same level of Responsiveness still exists. We constantly keep each other informed throughout the day with “Headed home.” or “I miss you.” texts. Responsiveness is the foundation of our communication style making it a core element of our marriage. It has changed our lives and it clearly changed my mentor’s life. Responsiveness is more than a trait — so much more.
Responsiveness is a Calling
I have learned over the years in order for me to make a change in my life, I have to get disturbed. If I go for a run, it is because I did not like looking at myself in the mirror the night before. If I decide to eat healthy, it is because I felt tired and lethargic all week. If I read a book, it is because my brain has felt foggy and slow. All of these actions were sparked by the emotion of disturbance. So, I like to get disturbed because I know that positive changes will soon emerge. And, that is exactly how I feel right now.
I am disturbed, and my disturbance has produced a Calling. I am disturbed by what we call professionals today and how they communicate. We live in a business culture of slow response times, unanswered emails, and feeling left in the dark. We are a culture and society which practices poor communication. I want to spark change. I want a revolution, and it starts by understanding and respecting the remedy to the problem: Responsiveness.
Responsiveness is a Habit
We do not want to contribute to the problem. Instead, we want to be a part of the solution and demonstrate for others what great Responsiveness really looks and feels like when done correctly. So, we have made it a habit. And, just like any habit, it takes time to establish. It does not happen in a day, a week, or sometimes not even a month. It has to be learned and repeated over and over again until it becomes part of who you are at your core. Intentionality is absolutely key. Don’t ignore your colleague’s email. Don’t be slow to respond to your friend’s text. Don’t wait several days to call back the contractor. Every action must be deliberate until the habit is formed.
Responsiveness is an Attitude
Successful people embrace the idea that Responsiveness is part of who they are as businesspeople. It is an attitude for them. They chose and continue to choose to practice Responsiveness every day because they know it contributes to their small and big wins. Their respect for other’s emails, texts, and other online interactions showcases to everyone that they care. You admire and follow them because of it.
Responsiveness is a Strategy
The attitude of Responsiveness is simply a reflection of a successful person’s greater strategy. They know that in order to succeed they need to win the hearts and minds of others. Simple solution: care more than the competition. And, they demonstrate their caring heart by their ability to respond in a timely fashion.
As the last paragraph addressed, Responsiveness is everything. It’s what separates successful people and companies from the unsuccessful. These people and organizations got disturbed long time ago and they decided to do something about it.
Scott Schwertly is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3 and the creator of Badge, a proprietary presentation assessment tool which helps presenters discover and maximize their presentation style. He is also the author of two books, What’s Your Presentation Persona? (McGraw-Hill, 2017) and How to be a Presentation God (Wiley, 2011). If Scott is not working with his team building presentations, you will find him in the pool, on the bike, or on a long run since he is a 2x Ironman, 7x marathoner, and competitive triathlete.