Out With the Old

Make time in your work life to contemplate what you could be.

We’ve all heard about continuous turnarounds. These are the businesses everybody talks about, the ones constantly leaving everyone gasping in their tailwinds. Just about the time we figure out what they’ve done to set themselves so far ahead – they do it again! And still, they baffle us. How do these companies do it? Could my company do it, too?

For me, the growing successes of continuous turnaround businesses signal a winding down of our legacy model for business performance. These old models are anchored in the ideas of stability, steady progress and conservatism. Today, though, one doesn’t need to look hard to find examples of the new methods outpacing the old. One such example is Apple, which cannibalized its desktop computer with a laptop. Then it invented the iPod. Which it killed with the iPhone. Then it eclipsed all these devices with the iPad.

We see the same dynamic in small businesses that become big ones. Look, for example, at Jim McCann, who started as a social worker planting flowers as part of a therapy program. Then he went to work in a flower shop, which he eventually bought. To move to the next level, he turned his business into 1-800-Flowers, the first 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, toll-free florist service. When the Internet rose as a business avenue, he moved his business online, with 1800flowers.com, becoming the single largest gift conglomerate in the United States.
Can a small or mid-size owner do the “Apple thing?” Well, sure! But how?

It starts at the top. If you’re wondering why your business isn’t like Jim McCann’s, and whether it could be, go straight to the heart of the matter. Look in the mirror.

Mary Baker Eddy, a favorite thinker I’ve mentioned before in this space, said, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.”

My message to you is the same. Think, and you will become. Dream big. Make time in your life at work to be alone and contemplate what you could be. Do this for 60 minutes three days a week. Then divest yourself of every activity that can be done by someone else. Follow your thinking, and carve out grand and noble lives.