2017-12-14 / Columns

What Did You Learn Today?

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

Recently I got an idea from Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success magazine. Darren said, “At the end of the day we should be asking ourselves, what did I learn today?” So I added that question to my calendar every day at 11 p.m., and because of the miracle of technology, that question pops up automatically on my computer and cell phone at 11 p.m. daily.

Some days I can’t think of anything that I learned. There are more of those than I want to admit. On those days, however, there is always something that I knew I needed to be reminded of. The other thing this daily reminder does is to make me aware of all the decisive moments I experienced. When there is something that I learned, I write it down in as few words as possible and record it in an electronic file by date. I hope that I will be able to retain a year’s worth of new knowledge without much effort.

There are so many things that I learn how to do, but because I don’t do them often enough, I don’t build up enough memory muscle in my brain to do the same task two or three months later without feeling like I have to relearn the entire process all over again. It is frustrating when I know an easy process exists.

I have an e-mail address hosted on GoDaddy, but I have never been able to figure out the URL that allows me to go directly to an e-mail sign-in page. I have to use a threestep process, when I know there is a one-step process. This isn’t a big deal, but it does take me a few seconds or minutes longer than it would if I knew the one-step process.

Here is a better example: I shoot a lot of wedding videos in the summer, but I don’t have the time to edit them until this time of year. I spend a month editing the videos, so I use the software one month out of 12. That gives me 11 months to forget what I learned and then one month to relearn it. Do you have something like this in your business? When “What did you learn today” pops up on my phone or computer, I don’t count software program unless it is something that I know that I will remember and use in the future without having to relearn what I already knew.

The things that I do write down are my experiences that end up being completely different than I imagined or thought the outcome would be. In my fifth rule of business, I say that, “All actions have reactions.” We all know that, but the question is, do we apply that to our thinking? If we do, then we also know that our actions create several predictable reactions or outcomes. Before choosing any course of action, we should all be asking ourselves what the possible or predictable outcomes of this are. We should be examining both the positive and negative possibilities. Just because there could be several negative outcomes, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move forward. It means that you have considered the reality of your choices and action. I remember someone saying one time that we have covered every potential risk except the risk of avoiding all risk. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of firstrate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time.”

Now and then you make a choice, and the outcome is entirely different than what you had on your predictable results list. You hear people say all the time, “I didn’t see that coming.” Maybe that is because they didn’t think about the possible predictable outcomes, or because it was the first time they have experienced that issue. When I encounter something for the first time that becomes something unexpected, I add it to my list of what I learned today, and it also becomes a future predictable result that I will be aware of when I find myself in a similar situation.

If you ask yourself, “What did I learn today” at the end of each day, I think you will hardly ever have to say, “I didn’t see that coming” in the future because you will be prepared with a plan for that outcome. I think that you should add this question to your daily todo list, as I have. What are your thoughts?

Jim is available for speeches and training. He is the author of “The Lazy Manager’s Smart Guide to Remarkable Results,” available soon. For a complimentary strategy session, contact Jim at (906) 643-6643 or Jim@ThinkOutside- NoBoxNeeded.com.

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