Don’t just do something, stand there

Sometimes it is easy to get so wrapped up in running our small business that we can’t see the big picture. We get bogged down in the daily grind of meeting customers, managing employees, making widgets, and paying the bills.

While these are necessary activities, they are examples of working in our business rather than on our business. They don’t help us plan, organize, or build our business. And when we don’t spend time doing these things, tomorrow will be no different from today.

Sometimes it’s best to stop doing and survey the scenery. Sometimes we need to not do something, but just stand there. (I don’t mean this literally.) Sometimes we need to step away from the daily activities of our business.

Setting goals may seem like a waste of time, but it helps us identify where we want to go. Planning may seem like a waste of time, but it helps us identify how we will get there. Developing systems may seem like a waste of time, but it helps us implement our plan. All of these help us build a better business.

If we set goals then we know where we are going. If we plan our actions then we know how we will get there. If we develop systems our actions become more efficient and we are more likely to achieve the desired results.

Sometimes it’s best to step back and look around. Sometimes it’s best to don’t do something, but just stand there.

Movie review: On the Beach

Imagine that you know that you will die in one month. How would you spend your last weeks on earth?

This is the premise of On the Beach, a movie made in 1959 starring Gregory Peck. The characters each wrestle with their pending death, and each makes interesting choices in how to spend his remaining time. One, for example, fulfilled his lifelong dream and became a race car driver. Others similarly pursue some activity they have long put off.

As I watched the movie I first felt sad. These people were finally pursuing their dreams, and now they were about to die. And then I realized that we are all in the same position as those characters. The only difference is that we don’t know the date of our demise.

So, if you that you would die in one month, how would you spend your last weeks on earth? And why are you waiting for those final weeks? Why not live your dream for years or decades? Why not start living your dream today?

Life is too short to spend our time doing things we don’t enjoy. (I am not speaking of those mundane tasks that are necessary in our lives and businesses.) Spending your days, weeks, and years doing something that doesn’t fill you with excitement is sad.

Each day we write the story that is our life. Don’t let your story be one of regret.

In lieu of shoes

One Christmas my wife wanted a pair of expensive athletic shoes for a gift. I was unable to find the shoes, even on the internet. So, in lieu of shoes my gift to her was a curio cabinet to house her pig collection. (You are probably thinking– A pig collection? But she has some neat pigs– fat pigs, skinny pigs, pigs made out of rock, short pigs, tall pigs, and even a piggy clock.)

Over the years I’ve built numerous pieces of furniture. While some were rather challenging, I thought that a curio cabinet would not be my most difficult project. Boy was I wrong.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this was a much more demanding project than I had imagined. Despite careful planning, there were many details that had initially escaped me. Despite carefully measuring, I found myself making wrong cuts and drilling holes in the wrong places. With each piece of wasted wood my frustration grew. But I persevered and eventually completed the cabinet.

So it often is with our small business. Despite careful planning, we often find ourselves confronted with situations that we did not anticipate. Despite careful execution, we often find ourselves with less than desirable results. And we find ourselves with a similar choice—throw our hands up in despair or learn from our mistakes and move forward. Or perhaps more importantly, we can learn from the success of others and avoid the mistakes all together.

Fortunately, with our business we can learn from others. We can avoid biting off more than we can chew. We can avoid putting ourselves in difficult situations. We can prevent many of the mistakes and frustrations that might result when we choose a course of action, in lieu of shoes.

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