Everyone has a story. Almost every person I know, has a story related to something, or someone who shaped their way of thinking in life. Whether it was something you experienced as a child that changed the way you now see things as an adult, most of us can remember profound moments and sometimes we talk about how they affect us today. I want to talk about something that happened to me at a young age. Since the experience itself changed my thinking as an adult, it is my hope that in some small way, it might help improve perspective, as it applies to stagnation in life and business.
Newark, NJ. Circa 1972. I was a pretty typical 5 or 6 year old. I liked hanging around the yard at my grandparents’ house and watching my grandfather work in the garage. I loved to help (even then), so I asked him if he needed a hand with anything. He thought for a second, then handed me a fairly long 4X4 piece of wood and about 50 to 60 nails. He said: “I need you to bang these nails into this piece of wood as fast as you can”. Of course I was thrilled because it wasn’t every day I got to handle his tools.
Anyway, he showed me how to bang the nails and sent me off. I sat in the yard and began – I held the nail and tried to hit it with the hammer. I was about 1 for 6 on contact, but I kept on trying. I’d hit the nail, then my finger, my finger and then the nail. I repeated. I hit my finger more times than the nail, and this went on for roughly 20 minutes. At one point I looked at my finger which was now very red and sore. I shook it a bit and then noticed my grandfather standing in the driveway looking at me. He looked as though he’d been watching me for at least a minute or so, so I continued. Bam, I hit my finger again and yelped. Again. Ouch! My grandfather walked over, bent down close to my ear and said: “When you get tired of hitting your finger, you’ll hit the nail” and then walked off. I looked at him as he turned away and thought: “What a ridiculous thing to say! Are you kidding me?” It was almost like he was poking fun, or something, and it made me feel stupid.
Years later, I don’t remember where I was exactly, but his words hit me like a lightning bolt. “When you get tired of hitting your finger, you’ll hit the nail”. I finally got was he was saying. I mean I really got it! What he was trying to say was that it hurts to make the mistake of doing things, the wrong way, again and again, and sometimes it has to get painful enough for you to change the way you’re doing things. It’s either that, or more pain, right?
My grandfather’s words rang through my head for years to come. When I was a dental consultant, back in the mid to late 90’s it occurred to me how true those words were, particularly as they applied to business and practice management. There were more than a few clients who, no matter what I said, or had done, seemed hell-bent on practicing the same old ways, in a manner that was not conducive to growth or expansion. There were some who rapidly welcomed change and made a concerted effort to correct old habits, and there were others who simply had to hit their fingers a few more times.
Cut to present time, the way business and humans operate today; we see that not much has changed. I say this because there are always business owners who decide to not change. In some irrational way, based on pride, or whatever, they seem to be content with remaining in a constant state of confusion and elevated stress. I almost think some enjoy being that way, as strange as that might sound.
Why? I do not know. I see this in life, with the state of our nation and attitude toward politics and authority. Year after year, those in charge of this once great nation continue to occupy congress, the senate and the executive branch of government, and they don’t seem to care where things are headed. They operate with what appears to be a complete disregard for the people, and yet the people, time and time again trust the same, or different elected, with righting a ship that is already on the rocks and has been there, rusting in its untimely death. There are people who continue believing that those in power will fix things, yet election year, after election year, there they are doing the same things that got us in trouble long ago.
So I ask myself: “How many finger whacks will it take? How many times will they / we hit our fingers before we realize that we need to change something drastically? Now I’m not here to say who is best fit for these positions of power, and I am certainly not qualified to evaluate who is the best fit, but there is one thing I do know. I know that if we keep going the way we’re going, we’ll wind up with a finger than can no longer hold a nail. Eventually, there may not even be a finger to hold the nail. Hell, there may not even be a person with a finger to hold the nail, and it’s alarming to me. It’s alarming because what I see is a complacency I’ve not seen before. I see too many of us doing the same thing and expecting a different result. That’s insanity, after all, isn’t it?
As far as business is concerned, if you’re not living your dream and moving your ship in the direction you want it to go, there is a reason. That being the case, sometimes you just need to hire a professional to tell you what the reasons are. Sometimes you need to bite the bullet, swallow your foolish pride, and let someone else show you how to make the changes that will help get you to get where you need to be. Sometimes you just have to say: “I don’t know how to do this, and I need some help!” Why continue hitting your finger, when you can drive that nail, and many other nails in the future, with a little help?
So don’t “wait”, or struggle unnecessarily. Make the changes now. Most of all, decide to stop hitting your finger! I’m here for you. If you need guidance, or just don’t know where to start, I’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Be it web related issues, staffing, collections, or whatever is holding you back, I have the experience to get you smiling again.
That’s it for now. I hope I’ve been an inspiration. If even one person reads this and makes a decision to knock off old habits, I’ve done my job.
Until next time, I hope you prosper beyond your dreams. If you don’t, you know where to find me.