Ideal Outcomes

Why Every Business Leader Needs to Master the Hokey Pokey

by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.

“You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out …” You probably know the rest. The Hokey Pokey is a timeless song that’s been played by millions of children around the globe for decades.

Anyone who’s ever held a senior leadership role or ran their own business will agree that the job often feels like doing the Hokey Pokey. You’re moving around, shaking all about, and even turning completely around.

The Hokey Pokey is an excellent metaphor for setting goals that matter, being brave and resolute in your pursuit of them, and having the wisdom to recognize when, despite your best efforts, your time and energy could be invested more constructively elsewhere.

Here are a couple of ways to use the wisdom of the Hokey Pokey in business.

Put Your Hand in and Shape the Business You Want

Leading a business can feel like a constant dance; it requires a massive effort, but once you’re in it, you have a good time. Don’t be an onlooker or wallflower; join in! Put your best foot forward into something you want to be a part of.

Uncertainty and ambiguity are par for the course in today’s business environment, so choose to embrace them. There’s no shame in not always knowing the right path forward. When you admit you don’t have all the answers, you create space on the dance floor for others to step forward and present solutions.

Put Your Hand Out When You Need To

Things might not always go as planned when you’re on the dance floor. You could get nervous and decide you need to regroup with your team. If you take your hand out for a while, that’s OK. Nothing in the song (or in business) says you’ll always have your head or hand in the game.

If it’s been a hard day or week and you’re feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated, think about it as the Hokey Pokey of business. Perhaps today needs to be the day your hand and head are out of the game, and tomorrow you might be ready to put them back in.

Put Your Hand Back in and Shake it All About

Don’t give into the temptation of staying out, though—the dance has just begun! The Hokey Pokey puts it quite simply: If you take your right hand out, you need to put your right hand back in. So, bravely stick your hand back in there and do so with hope and enthusiasm—and then “shake it all about” to see what might happen next.

There are times in business when it’s vital to shake things up because it’s only by getting out of our comfort zones that we learn and grow. The most effective leaders are willing to take risks to succeed. But that doesn’t mean being reckless; it means being transparent, honest, and—perhaps most importantly—collaborative. Don’t branch out in new directions based only on your ideas and point of view; include people of all tenure and experience to really get things going and sustain your momentum.

Next, Put Your Whole Self In!

Once you know what you want, commit to it. Set your timelines, keep focused, and be prepared to take some risks. You may need to support your teams to ensure everyone gets to a place where they can give their all and are fully immersed in the vision of where your business is going.

Know When to Take Your Whole Self Out and Turn Around

The Hokey Pokey reminds us that sometimes we must “take ourselves out” and “turn ourselves around.” Don’t get so committed to a specific goal that you lose sight of everything else. In business, as in The Hokey Pokey, the idea is always to return to the point of balance. Experiencing failure isn’t the same thing as failing. Sometimes it requires bravery to admit it’s time to stop and walk away. And stopping isn’t quitting; it’s just a pause that lets you decide where to turn next.

Perseverance is needed in business to succeed, and wisdom lets us know when enough is enough. Ultimately, putting our whole selves in as we continue to tune and re-tune ourselves and our businesses is what it’s all about.

Ideal Outcomes is here to help you keep your business “in tune.” Download our free Culture Readiness Tool to help identify where you can start to turn your culture around.