I knew it would happen when I named the company 4th Gear Consulting. I get a lot of questions about the name and what it means and I enjoy answering them because it really is at the heart of what we are about. Many people assume that it’s about speed and while that’s certainly part of it, 4th gear is really about commitment.
Potential for you as an individual is created by knowledge, skill and experience. Those three things determine how good you can be at any particular activity. You can get better by increasing those things but at this very moment, they represent your potential relative to any particular task. With a business, it’s about the collective knowledge, skill and experience of the people who make up the organization and who work to achieve the mission and goals of the company. The first three gears, knowledge, skill, and experience only create results however when the 4th gear, commitment, drives them.
Billions of dollars are spent by businesses each year training people to develop more skills, teaching them more knowledge and developing programs and processes that increase their experience. The reality is though, that most businesses fall far short of using the potential that already exists within the people that make up the company. It’s a lot like driving a high performance car in first gear and then, because it’s not fast enough, trying to install a bigger engine. Why not shift into second, or third or even 4th gear. You get much more speed and performance by harnessing more of the potential that already exists.
I'm not advocating that any business discontinue development efforts, they are critical to helping people accomplish more but there should also be a plan somewhere in your business that is geared toward doing more with the capabilities your people already have. Save the investment in training for activites that people really aren't able to do today, not tasks they are capable of but arent executing well because they are disengaged. Recent Gallup research shows that most companies are accomplishing less than 40% of what they could achieve if their leaders and people were fully engaged. Shouldn’t we focus on getting that to at least 50% or 60% as well as using resources to create more potential?
The potential within the organization becomes reality when the people in the business are connected and committed to the company's mission and the work that accomplishes it. Business resources are far better spent if they are focused on engaging people more fully, building a culture that encourages employees to contribute in ways that energize them, and effectively coaching team members to achieve more personal success and satisfaction.
We as individuals, and collectively as organizations are capable of more than we accomplish. That’s exciting when you think about what we can do if we choose the things that really matter most and then bring real commitment to bear on those critical elements of success. That’s what engaging the 4th gear is all about. It’s about creating commitment, individually and organizationally so that we turn our potential into results. When you engage the 4th gear in yourself and in your business, potential becomes a daily reality instead of a photograph of all the distant places you would like to visit. Stop staring at the photograph, cultivate the commitment you need and go there.