Focusing is the Key to a Great Business. The city slicker had purchased a farm in the country and was out on his tractor bright and early that first morning. He was trying to drive his tractor in such a way that his crop rows would be straight and consistent. He wanted to have his farm look just like those of his neighbors. But try as he might, it just wouldn’t work. The rows he was creating were ending up crooked.
After a morning of disappointment, he drove the tractor back to his new home for lunch. He entered the house rather dejected. His wife asked him what was the matter and he explained what he was trying to achieve, how he was doing it, and the results he was getting. He was angry, frustrated, disillusioned and not looking forward to seeing his new neighbors laugh at his misfortune. He questioned whether or not he should have bought the farm in the first place, since he couldn’t even plow the rows straight!
His wife sat and thought about all of this for a few quiet moments and then asked him a question. “At what point do you think your plowing starts to go wrong?” The husband reflected and replied “When I look back it looks okay but that is when I turn the wheel and I mess it up.” After a few more moments of thought his wife made a suggestion that he might want to consider a new tactic during the afternoon.
Rejuvenated, the city slicker hopped on his tractor that afternoon with a vengeance and drove like a madman until it was nearly dark. He walked into his home with a huge smile and the look of fulfillment. “You were right,” he told his wife, “I looked at a point in the distance and stayed focused on what was in front of me and I didn’t look back once. My rows are as straight as any of our neighbors. Maybe even straighter.”
Although this may sound like a simple lesson, and perhaps it is. But it illustrates a critical point in business that “we need to be led by a vision of the future as opposed to being pushed by the problems of the present.” The city slicker knew what he wanted (he had the idea that his rows would be so straight that they might be the envy of his neighbors) but couldn’t get out of his own way to see how it could be done. It took the patient listening of his wife, a sincere yet critical question and some candid, non-threatening advice to make a difference.
Successful organizations have a clear understanding of not only who they are but where they are going.
Businesses understand what they know, what they don’t know and what they need to accomplish their goals. Far too many businesses are stuck with the problems of today that they cannot see a future beyond the present. These businesses don’t progress, don’t improve and they deal with the same problems over and over, again and again.
The question is this: will you create your own future based on a vision that you have for your business or will you allow other forces, not of your choosing, to create and deliver it to you?
Half the year is now behind us and if your business is not any closer to your stated vision, perhaps it would be beneficial to take some time to rethink your intent, review your results, and take an objective look at not only what you are doing but how you are doing things to move you toward the goal.
This assumes, of course, that you have some sort of ultimate vision for your business in the first place. If you don’t have that figured out, it would be a great place to start, starting when you finish reading this article.
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