2017-11-09 / Columns

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas: Taking A Look at My 3x5 Cards

Think Outside, No Box Needed: Advice for Growing Your Business
By Jim Plouffe

I write all of my ideas and stolen ideas down on 3x5 cards. They are all over my desk. With three operations of my own and the involvement I have with others and their companies, ideas and to-dos are always popping into my head.

This week I picked up all of the cards that applied to writing this column, and this is what I found:

I heard a football coach say this about defending the title they won last year: “We don’t want to defend it [the title]; we want to pursue it.” What a perfect example of not resting on past accomplishments. The lesson here is what happened yesterday can’t be changed, because it was yesterday. We should be working on the things today that will move us successfully forward into the future. We should never be defending where we are. We should always be pursuing.

Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121 to 180) said, “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.” Every time I read one of these quotes from so long ago, I always wonder, how do we know that is what was said? Who wrote it down, and how was it preserved? Did someone just create that quote because there wasn’t any way to challenge the authenticity of it? The quote itself develops several questions that have nothing to do with whether it is helpful to you in finding a solution or facing an obstacle. So where is the lesson in this? If the only constant is change, why would you (or your business) be the exception to that rule? That is a better question to ask yourself about change. Are you pursuing change, or is it pursuing you?

From here, the questions only get harder. Like, how much difference is there between your product and service and your competitors? Take some time to be honest with your answer to yourself. Are you raising the standards for your business, or lowering them? You have to be doing one or the other.

The place to start answering these questions is with another question, of course: What are some of the problems and trends you’re seeing in your business or industry now? If you are like most business owners, you will have to make a list. The acronym you can use to do this is S.W.O.T. — Strengths, Weaknesses, Obstacles/Opportunities, and Threats.

The book “Playing To Win” by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin was recommended to me this week as a must-read, so I went looking for it. A.G. Lafley worked his way up through the ranks of Procter and Gamble to eventually become president of the organization, and Roger L. Martin was a business professor and a consultant to Procter and Gamble. As soon as I learned those two pieces of information, I decided that “Playing To Win” wasn’t a must-read for me, because running a business like Procter and Gamble is nothing like running a small business. I may still read it, but it won’t be on the top of my list. So what’s the lesson here? It is as simple as, just because someone makes a recommendation, doesn’t mean that you have to follow it. Or it also could be that if you don’t find something useful in the recommendation, you don’t have to finish it. I’d be interested in your thoughts here, because I see several more lessons in the story.

My friend, Dr. Michelle May, has a company called “Am I Hungry.” Can dieting and controlling a healthy weight for yourself be that simple? Is your eating routine a habit that can be broken simply by asking yourself if you are hungry? I am sure that there is more to it than that, but doesn’t all change start with a simple question?

Alan Weiss, who is straightforward in his thinking, wrote: “I don’t believe anyone has the right to consume wealth without creating it.” I can’t remember if he said the same statement should apply to happiness, but it seems like it should. Should people be able to take without giving or producing?

I hope that some of the questions found in this column help to simplify some of your thinking. In the meantime, I’ll keep jotting down notes, for myself, on my 3x5 cards.

If you are unhappy with the status quo of your business or personal achievement, meet with Jim one-onone. The first meeting is free. Jim is also available for speeches and training to your organization. jim@ThinkOutsideNoBoxNeeded.co m.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2017-11-09 digital edition