“Dear Jan

Top athletes always fascinate me. I admire their dedication, perseverance and the ability to forgo to achieve their goal. If we, as entrepreneurs and employees, display the same dedication, our company or career cannot fail. The key to success is taking things to a deeper level. There is so much of everything on offer and there is so much competition if your product or service is not superb, you’ll never breakthrough, you will never be among the best. And that is what we want, right?

I am trying to be one of the best with my company. I measure myself against all those companies which are better than us. I set the bar very high. And it’s there that I encounter myself. This often requires so much energy, that from time to time I become despondent. And so do my colleagues as I drag them along with my ambitions for more and better. I would love to find a good balance. But it seems that this balance does not exist. It’s good or it’s bad. It’s all or nothing. Something in between does not seem to exist.

If all goes well then everyone must be 100% committed and if it goes badly everyone must redouble their efforts in order to survive. I have struggled for a great time to deal with this and I have found a solution.

Taking things to a deeper level. I have noticed that as a company we have the greatest difficulty with new variations of our services and even more difficulty with completely new services. We must learn many new things, mistakes are made, responses to these should be formulated, new skills must be learned and the various departments and team members have to tune in with each other. I find this learning process particularly difficult to manage as it takes place under enormous pressure due to high demand. And the current customer is more critical than ever, so basically, nothing can go wrong. But many things go wrong.

Taking things to a deeper level is the answer to this for me. Focusing on only one activity. Just like the Netherlands during the recent Olympic speed skating. If you focus with your team on only a few activities, you become unbeatable. I also noticed that the quality of communication with customers, colleagues, and suppliers is critical. During the hectic times when the sales team is frustrated by colleagues who deliver late or not at all, and where the back office is angry because the sales team gave incorrect briefings, this is when I think it is incredibly difficult to keep things afloat and everyone motivated.

I am trying to stay on the right track by remaining calm and by communicating as much as possible one to one with my colleagues giving support, proposing solutions, and providing constructive feedback. I do not punish anybody for their mistakes, but try to treat these as important events enabling us to improve.

You will understand that we are in the middle of a hectic period and by sharing this with you I am able to reflect, organize my thoughts and find solutions. Whew!

Best regards,

Gerard Koolen”

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