For any of you not familiar with the intricacies of soccer, a very important skill to have is to be able to bring a ball out of the air and control it or pass it to a teammate. The most normal way to accomplish this is to bring it down with your chest or use your head to “bump” the ball to a teammate. Another, more difficult skill, would be to time the ball’s flight perfectly and either trap it or deaden it with your foot. We have one girl on the team with amazing athletic ability who refuses to use any of these conventional techniques. Rather, she throws her leg way up in the air, near her head and tries some sort of Bruce Lee kick to control the ball. Upon seeing this for about the tenth time in the tournament, her father yelled one of the funniest lines I have ever heard in a long time. He screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN! YOU’RE NOT A NINJA!
I usually don’t say much during games. I can be pretty intense if I don’t reign Red Mike in, so I try to keep myself occupied. The “Ninja” comment, however, nearly made me fall of the bleachers. It was truly one of the funniest, most spontaneous, obscure pieces of advice I had ever heard. It also made me think how important it is to do things the right way.
So many people get into bad habits regarding their business, often times out of necessity. Business owners are so busy and so harried that it might seem necessary to skip steps or put certain processes on hold. The processes might be hard tasks to complete or may not seem important in day-to-day operations. In the long run, however, the tasks catch up to you and can cost a person opportunities and hard earned cash.
For example, I have a number of people tell me they take a lot of money in cash without reporting it. Fine. Everyone does it. We are grown-ups, we can talk about it openly. However, I tell them, what are you going to do if you need to borrow money or sell your business? No lender is going to loan money based on a wink and a nod that the cash is there. No savvy potential buyer is going to purchase a business based on “cash under the table” bookkeeping.
I know that sometimes we skip steps out of necessity (maybe that is why I end with so many leftover parts when I put anything together)and then those occasional skips become habit and then performance suffers. When one of my clients complains that sales are slipping, I always ask him if he is following his proven selling process to the letter. After some him hawing and name-calling, he almost always admits that he is not. It became easier to skip the process, even though that decision meant declining sales. If we are not careful, bad habits develop.
I am as guilty as anyone is. I skip steps and sometimes look for the short cut (the extra parts comments was not necessarily a joke). From now on, I am going to yell at myself… “Mike, YOU ARE NOT A NINJA!” Maybe we should all yell that at ourselves sometimes. Unless you really are a ninja…then you will have to figure something else out.