A Fool Such as I

It’s humiliating to make business mistakes – especially the habitual ones that have gone undiscovered until now. “Why have I been doing this, all these years? How idiotic.”

After that, it’s gratifying. Embarrassing realizations are forerunners of steps forward, precursors to progress. 

RED-FACED

In a sense, continuous improvement is a matter of moving from one mistake or omission to another, seen in retrospect.

  • Color blind people can’t read our logo.
  • Google isn’t indexing a lot of my pages. Why didn’t I submit a sitemap? 
  • We qualified for that subsidized loan 24 months ago, without being aware of it.

Continuous improvement, once you’ve got over the red face, can feel like a dull way to make progress. How much more exciting to create breakthroughs.

But when viewed closely enough, “continuous” actually looks like small steps or innovations. It’s just a matter of scale.

On that basis, make a fool of me anyday.

How not to end a business connection

We’ve all been jilted at the office. By that, I mean we’ve had to face the end of a business relationship. Sometimes it’s done well, other times poorly.

ghosting

The worst kind of ending is ghosting, where a client or customer goes silent, not contacting you or returning calls or emails.

In dating, when your current love becomes an ex, the effect can be brutal, tolerable, or even welcome, depending on the state of the relationship.

NOT JUST INCOME

In business, the pain can depend on how long you worked together. If that was years, the effect can be devastating. We’re not just talking about the end of an income – though of course that matters.

Ghosting creates a feeling that the good bond you thought existed is of little value to the client, who doesn’t care if you drop out of their life forever.

This surely isn’t the right way. All business tie-ups end sooner or later, but the finish deserves a full explanation to the other party, preferably face-to-face, no matter how uncomfortable this process may be.

Ghosting should be something that went the way of the black and white television.

Photo by Stefano Pollio

2021: A Break Odyssey

Instead of making new year resolutions for 2021, here’s a better idea. Break something, pull it apart, and remake it.

2021

The problem with resolutions is that the associated actions have to be continued for at least three months in order to convert them into a habit.

The brain pattern – and the muscle memory that goes with it – needs to be replaced by another. No easy task. Each time that we fall back into the legacy, comfortable way of doing something, it continues to be strengthened. A clean break is needed.

One problem with forming a new pattern is that until it’s properly in place, we keep making silly errors and causing ourselves to look stupid to others.

Too bad. It’s an unavoidable part of the process.

NEW FROM OLD?

Most people don’t attempt to build a new habit. Instead they try to get a better result from the old less-than-optimal pattern of thought and action. That’s as likely as persuading your dog to bring in the letters instead of chasing the mailman. 

If you’re a cruel-minded kind of person who loves to win against others, their habits are invaluable. You can use them as a guide as to what these people are likely to do next. They rarely alter their routines.

Still, in a year that’s been a nightmare for many, there’s been progress. Folks have been forced to adapt to new situations, which has meant changing the old ways of doing things.

Let’s make that a harbinger of 2021 – a year for the dissolution of bad habits. Many of them are not actually bad, just not as useful as they could be.

Break, pull-apart, remake. A tenet for the twenties.