“Gross!” my kids yelled as I showed them the big lump of yellow wax that I had just picked out of the sink. To me, this lump of “gross” wax was a relief.
A few days earlier, I had barely survived a flight from Rome to Dublin without screaming in pain. My ear was plugged and it felt like my head was going to explode. It was imperative that my ear get unplugged before the transatlantic flight home.
I was desperate to find a solution to my pain and I resorted to YouTube for the answer. The solution involved a plastic bottle, a pen and some hot water, and a few days of effort, but I was not disappointed. Now I had a big chunk of yellow ear wax to show for it.
A few years ago, I heard about a business owner who needed a fix for a high-cost energy problem. He had his refrigeration company design a solution to bring in cold air from the outside on days when it was chilly in his northern climate instead of using energy to cool his products. That saved him thousands of dollars a year.
Recently, I was working with another business owner who was backed into the corner with his struggling company. Desperate to save the business, he came up with a solution to go after a totally new market for his product. That allowed him to reduce his labour costs and have a higher gross margin. He saved his job, his business and probably his health.
In business as in life, we often don’t make headway until we’re in a fair bit of pain. We let our accounts receivables slide until we need the cash to pay our own bills. Or we put up with non-performing employees as long as they don’t make trouble for us. We have advertising that doesn’t work but customers are still walking through the doors. We have suppliers who give us terrible service because we don’t have the energy to discover more suitable ones. We have a business that makes a little bit of money but we aren’t ready to sell it, so we do nothing.
The truth is that most of us live with mediocrity in our lives and in our businesses. We find it easier to do nothing than to put in some effort that will take our businesses, our relationships and our lives to another level. As a result, most of us end up not living the lifestyle we want but get the life sentence we deserve – 25 years to life of mediocrity!
So how do we change?
The first thing we must do is identify the source of our pain. When I’m working with clients and doing a business strategy session, I ask them to tell me about the things that aren’t working for them and then I run through a list of areas in their business that they might consider modifying. Next, we prioritize the problems. At that point, we identify all the possible solutions to the most important issue they want to work on. We then pick a couple of possible solutions that will get the best results and decide how to implement them.
Its like unplugging your ear. There are a variety of ways to get the wax out, including going to a doctor. However, if you have the time and energy, sometimes you can find a solution yourself. There may be risks involved in this process that need to be taken into consideration.
Change is incremental but unless we take the initiative to undertake changes to reduce our discomfort, we’ll continue to have lives full of pain and mediocrity.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.
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