On the Road to Becoming

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Written by Halee Shults

September 7, 2017

On the Road to Becoming

Lessons from Code Koalas

Coming to work for Code Koalas three years ago was one of the most life altering decisions I’ve ever made. The leaders in this company have shaped my character, my direction in life and challenged me to become something greater than I thought I could become. Here are just a few things that this place has taught me and will hopefully help you to become a better professional.

Narrow is the way.

Growing up in the millennial generation, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard the term, “I want to keep my options open”. We spread ourselves thin trying to be everything to everyone, and never committed to any one thing. However, until you decide what direction to go, choose an option and narrow in, you wind up “swimming in circles” and never get a solid identity. The same is true for a company.

Here at Code Koalas, to move from a good to a great company, there has been a narrowing in the company focus to become proficient at every area of the processes, goals and values. As these transitions have taken place over the last few years, Code Koalas has been able to establish their identity and their presence in the community. Companies and individuals who become great are those who have a solid identity and know what they are looking to accomplish.

Decide ahead of time that quitting isn’t an option.

In any business, you will have seasons of ups and downs. Potential clients change their minds, client payments are delayed, unexpected expenses come, and projects don’t go as planned. Often it seems like all the above hit all at the same time. However, the old saying stands true - “Quitters never win and winners never quit”. Especially for new companies, as the company identity is being established there are often seasons of refining that chips out all the unnecessary processes. It’s during those seasons where you realize what’s important, what isn’t and can often times unify your staff.

As an employee in those seasons, it’s crucial that you don’t take the transitional stress personally or take it home with you. Rather, use it as an opportunity to refine your own processes better. Regardless of feelings, don’t quit during these seasons. It’s natural to want to be comfortable, but it’s in the uncomfortable and uncharted territories where your skills and character are expanded and strengthened. Also, these seasons are temporary and while we as humans often want to go from A-Z in a heartbeat, there IS a process. Everyone wants quick ways to success, but anything that’s easy and quick won’t be well built. In reality, whether it be business or individual journeys, they go from victory to victory. Don’t give up and don’t fight the refinement. Lean into the wind and let it change you for the better.

Words Matter! Stick to the plan.

I learned a very valuable lesson during one of our refining seasons not long after being hired. The leaders of Code Koalas had to make some tough decisions and as they sat down together, they wrote out the vision for the company. As they listed each line, they wrote not as it looked to the natural eye, but as to what they wanted it to look like. Each line was written in present tense; instead of saying “Code Koalas will be….” they wrote down “We are….” No one talked lack, stress or any form of potential failure. They kept consistent and moving forward. Change didn’t happen overnight, and that doesn’t mean things didn’t get difficult but the vision didn’t change. Their words stuck to the plan. One year later, everything on that list of “We are”, the company had attained and become. The company walked right into the words they had spoken and decided the standard to be.

That lesson was extremely impactful in how powerful our words are. They called things how they wanted them to be, rather than how it was. Whether as an employee or as a company, decide what you are wanting to walk into, write it down, put it somewhere visible and keep your words in line with the plan!

There are several more lessons that I could share, but these three have been the most impactful for my personal and professional experiences. Change in any business is inevitable and often comes with some uncomfortable transitions. However, perseverance, consistency, and a narrowing of identity, creates a firm foundation and helps establish your footing on the journey to success. Whether you are considering starting a business or already a part of the small business path, don’t despise small beginnings. Decide what you are looking to accomplish, make the decision to stick with the plan and don’t turn back.