During his time on the hot seat at Wizard Academy, author Russell Friedman made an interesting observation about coping with success: “We must reconstruct our identity with every fundamental change in our lives& Because it is not familiar, success has become an invader. We ask, 'If I became successful, how would I behave?' … The problem is that the framework within which we visualize the new system, is the old system.”
Do you know how you would act if you suddenly began to achieve all your dreams?
An ancient Chinese proverb admonishes us, “If you do not change direction, you are likely to end up where you are headed.” In what direction are you headed? Have you been trying to make a big difference through a series of too-small changes?
When it comes to planning, most of us resemble the grasshopper or the ant. If you remember the story, the Grasshopper doesn't plan ahead at all, but says, “I'll just play the cards as they're dealt,” and ends up out in the cold. Meanwhile, the uptight Ant details his plan to such a degree that responsiveness and flexibility are effectively folded and stacked in the closet. Consequently, the Ant marches past valuable opportunities because “they weren't in the plan.”
When I'm caught up in the tornado of planning and thoughts are waging war in my head, I spend a day with Dr. Nick Grant, Wizard Academy's consulting psychologist and one of the most insightful men I've ever known. Nick helps me focus my thoughts so that the warring winds are dissipated; I gain a clearer head and a lighter step.
But Dr. Nick Grant knows very little about the advertising business and that's the business I'm in.
When strategic planning is required, the Princess and I hop on a plane and invest several thousand dollars to spend a day with Gary Wortman, a business planner halfway across America. Funny thing – Gary knows even less about the ad business than Nick Grant, but the Princess and I always come home delighted that we spent the time and money to see him.
So what do Nick and Gary do, exactly, that makes them worth all this money? I'll share a secret with you: The value of a consultant is not that they're smarter or more experienced than you, but that they bring to your problem a perspective that you cannot achieve, no matter how hard you try, namely: They're on the outside, looking in. You're on the inside, looking out.
And it's hard to read the label when you're inside the bottle.
Every businessperson needs a Nick and a Gary. And the beginning of a brand new year is a wonderful time to meet with them.
Do you have a Nick and a Gary?
Roy H. Williams
Next Week's Memo – 2003: The Year of the Internet's Bar Mitzvah
PS – For more information about strategic business planning, go to wizardacademy.org and click Free Business Analysis in the column on the left.