Fire Yourself Every Day

Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, in a June 14, 2009 interview with USA Today, talked about “fixing the roof while the sun is shining.” She argued that leaders need to see potential and pursue new opportunity, rather than simply react to problems as they arise.

Jung suggested that people with long experience cannot “look at the business with fresh eyes.” So what is an experienced senior executive to do?

Her extraordinary advice was to “fire yourself on a Friday night and come in on Monday morning as if a search firm put you there to be a turn-around leader. Can you be objective and make the bold change? If you can’t, then you haven’t reinvented yourself. I’m not the same leader I was even last year… I’ve had to reinvent myself every year.”

People who are not changing tend to become trapped in their own assumptions. They naturally slip into the personal process of slow death. Those who are continually changing are also continually learning, continually challenging their own assumptions. Because they are changing, they have “fresh eyes” and can see the possibilities that others cannot.

Reflection

  • What does it mean to “fix the roof while the sun is shining?”
  • What is the value in firing oneself?
  • If you were newly hired to replace yourself, what would you do that the last person was not doing?
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