My most valuable business tool is a crowbar. Now I don’t walk around with a crowbar in my briefcase, although sometimes I wish I did, but I’m always thinking about how useful it could be during the course of my day. Say for instance, during a meeting when I see someone nodding off. A whack on the head with a crowbar beats a double espresso any day! Or if I want to grab someone’s attention and I see their eyes roll back in their heads, just the sound of taking the crowbar from my briefcase will surely stir them back to consciousness.
But the most utility I get from my crowbar is its effectiveness as a tool for change! I believe that change is what business is all about. Business is fluid and there is nothing that can stop that process. We try to ignore it and live with the status quo, but that is a delusion. Many business people fall into that trap and delude themselves right into insolvency.
Long ago, the most important guy in town was the blacksmith. But when automobiles replaced horses, the blacksmiths who didn’t learn how to service horseless carriages were doomed. They had to adapt to new technology or die a slow, painful death. In the world of business, there is no alternative but to accept the inevitability of change, just as it is inevitable in the physical world.
To be successful and leave an enduring legacy, you must accept change as a fact of life. That means constantly upgrading your skills and searching for ways to do business better. You try to overcome hurdles rather than use them as excuses. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s the hardest thing you’ll have to do. Accepting the idea that what we know as our reality will not endure forever is difficult. It’s no different than coming to terms with one’s own mortality. We simply don’t want to accept what we know is a true and certain event.
Once you accept the fact that everything changes, you can accept the fact that you must also change. The business environment is constantly affected by fickle consumers, changing tastes, meddling governments and unscrupulous competitors, all thrown together to create an economy, an imaginary world of numbers and currencies, in which we have to battle for economic survival. Wow! Not an easy thing to do. And to do it without a crowbar is a real trick.
When you think everything is working perfectly, pull out your crowbar and prop it under yourself. It should serve as an uncomfortable reminder that nothing lasts. Sometimes we need to be motivated, pushed and prodded into taking action that we know is necessary but painful. Use it to inspire yourself to move forward, to educate yourself, to modify the way you work, to move into a new market, to push yourself forward, in spite of the pain, because staying put is far worse.
The world is not static. Business is not static. So why would any intelligent business owner believe that what they’ve started will endure unchanged forever? Look at yourself. Look at your business. Look at your market. Are you happy with what you see? Do you think you could do better? Pull out that crowbar and move yourself forward.
After you’ve used the crowbar on yourself, use it on your employees. It will give new meaning to the phrase, “raising the bar”! You lead by example and inspire others to do better. That is the enduring legacy of a visionary person. And if you can make a profit while making the world a better place, there’s no better way to satisfy your ego. Go ahead, raise the crowbar!