Category: big picture


I appreciate stories like “The Tortoise and the Hare.” It’s encouraging to be reminded that slow and steady wins the race. We get so caught up in the rat race of life that it’s rare to appreciate beauty, peace, and rest.

To what aspects of life does this concept apply? Money, travel, and personal growth come to mind.

I have read many books on finances and wealth-building. Nearly all of them focus on two main principles:

  1. Get out — and stay out — of debt
  2. Saving and investing money slowly but consistently

By living on less than you make, saving steadily, and the wonder of compound interest, anyone will become wealthy given enough time!

We often take for granted how enjoyable journeys are. We impatiently await our destination and miss the wonderful scenery around us. I would rather take longer to get somewhere than get there quicker and enjoy the journey less. This is part of why I love my motorcycle. It takes time to gear up and down on a motorcycle, and you have to stop much more often during a road trip. Still, there is something I can’t explain about getting places slower but enjoying it much more.

Imagine our joy if we consistently chose the scenic route over the shortest route.

And then there’s personal growth, which is often ignored. There is no shortcut; it requires daily investments of time, discipline, analysis, and learning. The best time for this is early morning. This means getting up much earlier than otherwise to have time to concentrate on growth. I remember reading long ago that author and speaker Dan Miller spends two hours every day on his growth. I’ve been aiming at a similar goal for many months, and the contrast between the past and now is startling.

The early morning plots your daily trajectory, so be intentional about it.

Slow and steady wins the race when applied to compound interest, the scenic route, and daily trajectory. What else?

Tonight someone told me that there are ultimately three questions in life.

1) Who am I?
2) What am I doing?
3) Where am I going?

Are we merely driven to live life in order to better answer these questions through experience?

How often I see the shapes instead of objects. Lines instead of outlines. Details instead of concept. Words instead of meaning.

Substance versus significance.

My brain is my downfall. How often I miss the point of a simple concept by trying to pick it apart analytically from every angle possible. I get caught in the definitions of the words instead of the point of the statement. How stupid my smarts make me!

Do you remember arguing as a child?

There is no convincing a resolute child that he is wrong. If a young boy feels believes in something, he will not lose any ground if it is attacked. He believes with all of his heart and does not allow one morsel of doubt. There is no in between — either you believe something or you do not.

If we were only so lucky!

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

— Matthew 18:1-6 (The Message)

Children do not have to understand to believe, and this is one of the greatest assets of a child, with which adults will continually struggle.

In an effort to make the sale, some of you are anxious to paint the brightest most idealistic picture possible. You let the customer know that the product can be designed, delivered, and installed in three weeks. The product will have every single feature the customer wanted and then some. It will be cheaper than the customer expected and you have already started the design. (Apply this same ideology to your line of work and I bet you will think of specific people.)

In reality, however, there is no product. It has not yet even gone to the drawing board. There is no schedule to design this product since it has not even been submitted. No current product can do what the customer needs and it will take weeks to solidify a design modification to an existing product. Once a design has been submitted, it still has to be prototyped and tested before mass production. The product can only then be shipped and delivered to the customer, after which it will need to be installed by your team, who has yet to install anything for this particular application. But you got the sale!

So what.

Now, the customer’s perception of your company can ONLY go downhill. They think well of you and now have high expectations for a great deal in a quick timeframe. The money is now starting to come in, and you are now flying by the seat of your pants. Our team is quite livid that you have done it yet again, even after the last time they confronted you about promising impossibilities. You know they are bright and can figure it out and they will thank you for the experience later. Right?

False.

Your team is now dealing directly with the customer, calling them once a week to remind them that they are not forgotten. The customer saw your team for a few hours right after talking to you, but they were called away to an emergency and are now busy keeping other new customers happy by making appearances. Oh, and do not forget that you have older customers still waiting on your team to finish the job they started months ago. Your team hates that they cannot finish a job and are constantly being yanked around to put out fires you will not stop starting.

Slow down.

What if you instead were much less concerned about making the sale. What if you were focused on keeping your current customers happy with your company and your customer service. What if you were much more concerned long term customer satisfaction and a healthy amount of business growth over time? What if making a new sale is NOT the best thing for your company?

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, is a deep-seated believer in underpromising and overdelivering. This completely factors into how Starbucks has done business since he came on board. If it was the goal of the company to open 50 new stores one year in order to please investers, they would open 55.

What if we all did this?

Instead of undercutting bids for contracts, try submitting a high bid that reflects the quality and effort your team puts into your products. Instead of promising a quick delivery to seal the deal, try giving a more realistic buffer to your current schedule. Instead of ignoring the probability of setbacks and emergencies, try planning on a few of them to paint a more realistic picture of what the customer can reasonably expect. Instead of getting the customer’s hopes sky high, let them know that a good product and service will defiitely be worth their wait.

What if the customer was thrilled by the outcome?

In the above example, imagine that you (the salesman) let the customer know that it will take approximately 3 months to design a product to their needs, produce it to specifications, deliver and install it on site. You need time to fit the customer’s needs into the existing schedule and prior obligations to other customers. That will show the customer that they too will be treated fairly, instead of being ignored for the sake of the next sale.

Now, imagine how thrilled the customer will then be when all of this happens a month early! Lower some expectations and then show the customer way more than expected. :D
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