Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Do We Do When We Don't HAVE To?

In working with lots of different businesses in lots of different industries and professions over the years I have observed that the most successful share 2 characteristics.

1. They pay attention to detail and assure that what the business does… it does well.
2. In the “down” times they work on improvement or new ideas/concepts.

Sounds pretty simple. Sometimes simple is hard.

Number 1 is obvious. Number 2 is much less so. Number 1 is usually related to working IN the business and Number 2 is usually related to working ON the business.

Using a hairdresser as an example, styling and cutting hair is an IN the business activity and it must be done skillfully and to the customer’s expectations or the customer may not come back. But what about the time that the hairdresser does not have a customer in his/her chair? What are they doing? Maybe they read a magazine, talk on the phone to a friend, or simply explore the events of the day with co-workers or other customers. Others may study the latest in hair technology, new styles and cuts, or develop new marketing ideas to lessen the actual down time. In other words, they work ON their business. Who do you think will be the most successful? Easy answer, right?

I believe that most of us approach our jobs and careers in a very reactive mindset. We simply react to what is set before us. Maybe it is showing up and styling the hair of the customer who made an appointment, maybe it is returning a client phone call, or assembling the parts to a manufactured item... all reactive activities.

Characteristic Number 2 begs the question, “What do we do when we don’t have to be doing anything?” The more successful person is much more proactive and spends the time working ON his/her business. They ask themselves questions like, “How can I be more efficient and effective?” “How can I attract more customers?” They then develop plans and strategies to achieve their desired results. And then they actually put the plans and strategies into action.

Simple yet difficult. Success takes intentionality. It doesn’t just happen!

How do you utilize your time when you don’t have to be doing anything? What type of person are you…reactive or proactive?

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