Tag Archive for 'Inspirational and Motivational'

Climbing the hill

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”

Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”

In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”

Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” When that truck was “in grandma” it wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.

Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

There are many hills in the life of a small business. Next time you’re faced with a hill that seems too steep to climb, tell yourself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.” Then “put it in grandma” and keep on climbing.

Dealing with Pessimism

Do you know what a jet fighter is? If you said airplane, you’re only half right. In the strict nomenclature, a jet fighter is actually a weapons platform. Its job is to deliver ordinance to a target, not to fly the pilot around.

In that sense, the human body — this vessel of protoplasm we drive around — is not really what a human is. It’s actually a delivery platform for the will of our spirit; the true life force that is who we really are.

One of the things I have observed about humans is that we often don’t understand, and therefore tend to under-employ, the power of our spirit. We seem so obsessed with the body that we don’t spend enough time contemplating the presence and power of the spirit.

Someone once told me how little of our brain’s power we actually use. I don’t remember the percentage, but I do remember it was astonishingly low. I wonder if there is a connection between under-usage of the brain and limited awareness of the spirit.

Author and philosopher, Colin Wilson, wrote, “We possess such immense resources of power that pessimism is a laughable absurdity.” The power he’s talking about is that of the spirit.

Pessimism can’t be overcome by our bodies. Dealing with frustration and overcoming disappointment are both tasks performed way above the pay-grade of protoplasm. If you are a small business owner you either already understand this, or are acquiring that understanding a little more every day.

I’ve been a small business owner for a long time and have observed others far longer. I can’t imagine how any of us could do what we do without a strong spirit. The challenge is to become more aware of our spirit and flex it — like a muscle — to our advantage.

A few more reasons to love small businesses

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the Top 10 Reasons to Love Small Business, as proposed by our friends over at the Office of Advocacy of the SBA.
10. Small businesses make up more than 99.7 percent of all employers
9. Small businesses create more than 50 percent of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP)

8. Small patenting firms produce 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms

7. The 28.2 million small business in the United States are located in virtually every neighborhood
6. Small businesses employ almost 50 percent of all private sector workers

5. Home-based businesses account for 52 percent of all small businesses

4. Small businesses make up 98 percent of exporters and produce 33 percent of all export value

3. Small businesses with employees start up at a rate of over 500,000 per year

2. Four years after start-up, half of all small businesses with employees remain open

1. The latest figures show that small businesses create 63 percent of the net new jobs in our economy

**Photo via Flickr by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sis/98171915/


Make a difference to just one

Even in America, the land of plenty, there are so many people who need food, shelter, a helping hand, and a kind word.  It’s true, the safety net created by public and private organizations is multi-layered and highly efficient, but it is, after all, a net not a pillow.  Nets have holes.

Looking at the many unmet needs it’s easy to be intimidated by the scale and we feel justified in our indifference because, “Hey, I pay my taxes and contribute to charities, don’t I?  What more can I do, right?  I’m just one person.”

Here is a condensed version of a one of my favorite stories, which was created my friend and favorite futurist, Joel Barker, who was inspired by Loren Eiselely’s book Starthrower.

A man was walking on a familiar stretch of beach one morning after a storm. Up ahead he could see a stranger coming toward him. The stranger was continually stooping over, picking up something and tossing it in the ocean. Finally, the man could see that the stranger was throwing some of the thousands of tiny starfish the storm had washed up on the beach overnight.

As the two men drew near and exchanged greetings, the man commended the stranger for his efforts, but also commented on the futility of such a task. “There must be hundreds of thousands of starfish on this beach.  How could one person possibly make a difference?” Picking up another tiny starfish and tossing it back into the ocean, the stranger answered, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?”

Here’s a pledge I will make to you and ask you to consider making:  As I race through my hectic, self-important life, at least once a day I will try to make a difference in another person’s life.

Could be as simple as holding a door, patting a back, giving a compliment, noticing a frown.  Or perhaps something a little more involved like checking on someone with a call or visit, creating an opportunity, providing a meal, (your idea here).

With a world full of unmet needs, at the end of the day at least we can say, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?”

Until Next Time: Maintain Your Uniqueness

Do you spend a lot of time worrying what others think about your ideas? If you have what you think is a great idea, something you are passionate about, do you drop it when someone else shoots it down? Obviously, it’s good to bounce ideas off of those you trust. But ultimately, you are the best judge of your own idea.

Did you know that Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book was rejected 23 times? If he hadn’t believed in his idea, the world might never have know about Sam and his green eggs and ham.

In his excellent book, The Mentor, our friend and Brain Trust member, Jack Carew, says, “Use your uniqueness. What you do and how you do it is distinct and special.” Try as they might, others may not be able to properly evaluate your unique way of looking at something. More than likely, they will focus on the something and not the unique way you see it.

Of course, do your research. Yes, talk with other people. But don’t do research to find out if what you are thinking is a good idea as much as to find out how to make improvements. Listen and learn, but don’t discount what Jack calls “your uniqueness.”

Now. I’ve got this idea for green milk. Whaddaya think?

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.

In the marketplace, it ain’t over ‘till it’s over

One of sports history’s greatest upsets happened at the 1975 U.S. Open tennis tournament at Forrest Hills, New York, when the Spaniard, Manuel Orantes, defeated legendary Jimmy Connors in straight sets (6-4, 6-3, 6-3), in Connors’ own back yard.

But that contest isn’t the best part of this story. Beating Connors to win a professional tennis Grand Slam tournament couldn’t have happened if the night before, against all odds, Orantes had not demonstrated enormous courage and extreme perseverance.

In the semi-final match between Orantes and Argentinian, Guillermo Vilas, the Spaniard was down two sets to one, five games to zip in the fourth set, and two match points in the sixth game. Vilas was serving triple match point to the seventh power.

If Orantes loses one more point in this game the match is over. And even if he battles back to win this game, he would then have to win the next six games in order to force the fifth set to determine who advances to the finals. Tennis fans know a score of 2-1, 5-0, 40-love, is an against-all-odds, improbable comeback scenario.

There’s another group that can appreciate the long odds Orantes faced—small business owners. Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the marketplace equivalent of triple match point to the seventh power. Here’s what it might look like: losing a major customer, having an unexpected expense, and a cash flow crisis resulting in a call from the bank, all in the same hour. The question is not whether a small business will have triple match point challenges—Orantes faced it only once, small businesses see it all the time—but how well the owner manages them.

Back to the tennis match: In perhaps one of the gutsiest display of guts in the history of pro tennis, Orantes overcame that triple match point to take the sixth game, and then proceeded to win the next six in a row to claim the fourth set 7-5. This courageous comeback not only produced the momentum to beat Vilas 6-4 in the final set and get Orantes into the finals with Connors, but, as you now know, it carried over to the next day when he became the 1975 U.S. Open champion by dispatching one of the greatest tennis champions of all time in straight sets.

Next time your business is down triple match point, remember that as long as the game isn’t over you can survive. As long as you have the desire to win you can succeed. As long as you believe in yourself you can gain the momentum to win today and become a champion tomorrow.

Even when you’re down triple match point, you can still win.





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