I once watched a commercial where a young family decided to adopt. They adopted an older girl, maybe 4, with lovely red pigtails. She would be a great companion to their older daughter. After picking up the child, the family was so excited. The family played with her, celebrated her arrival with their friends, and bought her new toys. After a few weeks, the novelty wore off. They got used to her and failed to pay as much attention. She became an annoyance and soon the parents were fighting about the caretaking of this little girl. It was heartbreaking. You could see her in the corner cowering while they fought. The older sister would pass her by without even a glance. One day the dad put the little red-haired girl in the car with her favorite toy. They drove a long way out to a field in that appeared to be the middle of nowhere. The daddy got out and took the little girl’s hand. They walked maybe twenty steps. He took the favorite toy and threw it as far into the field as he could. The little girl ran after it. The dad ran back to the car and began to drive off without her. The whole time he kept looking up at the rear view mirror. Each time you could see the reflection of her crying and running after the car. He was leaving her there. On the last time, he looked into the rearview mirror, you see a golden retriever with the same toy in its mouth. Absolutely brilliant.
Discover What You Need To Know About Your Business Health
The brilliance behind this highly emotionally impactful commercial is this. The director’s premise is that once you adopt a dog, you are making a lifelong commitment. You are their family forever. You would never consider abandoning a small child that is part of your family, so you need to take the same care with a pet. The writer skillfully connects something we know and deeply understand (abandoned red-haired four year old in field) to another gravely important subject consideration (so don’t do this to a pet you have decided you can’t be bothered with.)
I only take up your time with this preamble because I had a similar connection made for me when I began my business. I have never forgotten it so I thought I would share it with you.
When I began my chiropractic business, twenty years ago, my coach gave me a wonderful business analogy. Her words were simple. She said, “When you begin a business you breathe life into a new creation. Your business becomes a living breathing entity.”
She continued, “If we assume this business you have just begun is a living breathing thing how do you determine if this business is healthy? I mean, how do you keep this being alive?” She waited.
“Well, I would make sure she got enough food, water, and exercise. I suppose I would have experts, who know much more than I do, regularly check her.”
“Good. Now let us suppose this being we speak of is ill. How would you know?”
“I suppose the living breathing thing would start to look peaked, unwell, and might fail to produce healthy outcomes.”
“Yes. So what if you couldn’t quite tell what was wrong but your gut told you something was up. What would you do?”
“I would ask lots of questions about what was wrong, take a temperature, check her pulse and other vitals. If I couldn’t figure it out, I might get someone with more experience in this kind of thing to help me.”
“You certainly would not turn the other cheek, suggest she will get better on her own, or stand aside and say you will address her and her illness when you have more time. Right?”
“Of course not, that would be neglect.” (Cue, Lightbulb)
“Do you think your personal health matters in the assessment of this being?”
“Of course, if I am sick or unhealthy myself I certainly can’t take of someone else properly.” (Cue, lightbulb number two.)
She made her point. Just like the director above she drew an analogy to something I was deeply connected with, something we are all deeply connected with. If we consider our business to be living breathing entities, several things occur. Our business becomes three dimensional, not two. We also realize that vital metrics need to be regularly assessed to ensure growth and survival. We can also surmise that our personal health and wellbeing, considering that we are the caretaker, likely will also directly affect the health of our business.
What if we truly transfer this line of thinking to our businesses? Be they great or small, what if we regularly looked for ill health, failure to thrive or general malaise? What if we did this regularly and attentively as we would any being (child, dog or otherwise) in our care? What if we also took the deep seriousness of our own health in caring for our business?
So do you? Do you spend the time necessary asking the right questions and checking business vitals? Do you know how a healthy business looks? I didn’t. I had to learn what data (vitals) to collect and what pokey questions I must keep asking. I had to seek people much smarter to me to ask even tougher questions about my business. I also had to get real about my health so I could properly support the needs of the business.
As we go into the end of the year and we start looking at our business plans for 2017 let’s assess the health of “our little being”. Do you need to get a business mentor or coach? Do you need to redefine criteria against which to assess your businesses health? Do you need to reevaluate what data you collect? Or how about just collecting data at all? With a few vital statistic measurements in place, you can create a flourishing living breathing business.
How about getting started? Here are my top NINE business book recommendations.
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