Friday, July 31, 2009

Now Moments

Now Moments
Now Moments, by Tiger Todd

"Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed." - Corita Kent

Business owners today know how great it would be to have someone else take some of the weight off their shoulders for a while. Of course, finding that someone who could do what we do and treat our customers the way we want is the real trick. But what if your life was run by someone else? What I mean is, if someone other than you stepped into your life, starting today, would they manage it any differently than you do? Would that person take care of your family as well as you do? Would they approach your job, your clients, and your challenges in the same way that you do? A fun exercise is to imagine how well a famous person would do at your job for just one day. Imagine Sylvester Stallone answering your next sales call, Bono dealing with one of your customer service needs, or Condoleezza Rice negotiating your next important deal. Would they mess up your beautiful system or sales approach, or could their unique perspective bring something new to the situation?

While I've never thought of playing the role of Condi or Rocky with any of my customers, I am ashamed to tell you that I did play the part of Bill Murray's character from Ghostbusters...once... with one of my electronics business clients about 20 years ago. This well-to-do professional was having a full-out tantrum over the way his car alarm was malfunctioning. After listening to his rant for what seemed like an eternity, I cracked. Channeling the irreverent "Dr. Peter Venkman", I turned to my client’s wife - while her husband was it mid-rant - and deadpanned, "Was he an abused child?" Yes, it's true. By delivering a movie line in the midst of a very serious customer service situation, I acted even more childish than my customer did. And the situation got funnier still. While my customer continued his rant, uninterrupted and totally oblivious to my comment, his wife answered me in total sincerity and with her best New York accent. "Why, no,” she began. “He came from a very good family." Life imitating art. Or maybe it was art imitating life? It still surprises me that the client became one of my dearest friends, but only after I was able to remove the ghost from his machine. It was also the last time I ever allowed a fictional character to run my business for me. Or was it? Hmmm.

“Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?” – Morpheus, The Matrix

What do you have to work with NOW?

Let's get back to what you may be going through, right NOW. Some problems and challenges last so long that we think they are the rule instead of the exception. But what if we could give these kinds of problems a fresh look, perhaps through the eyes of an outsider who is not so emotionally attached to the lasting pain of what's still not working? It is my belief that when we approach something again for the first time, or in the NOW, we begin to see the opportunities, not the problems and difficulties.

In the NOW, problems and difficulties seem like nothing more than a couple of flies in the ointment. A few years ago, after retiring from my company, I was called back in to resurrect lagging sales and dwindling resources. I left the business when it was firing on all cylinders and returned to more problems and challenges than I could count. Significant market and industry changes, coupled with some strategic mismanagement, demanded that the company's mission and purpose be redefined, and fast. I'm not sure if it was due to the length of time I had been away from the business, or just the mood I was in that crisp Autumn morning, but I had an epiphany. I stood out in front of that store with its manager and instead of thinking about what we didn't have, I naively asked, "So, what do we have to work with NOW?"

"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities disguised as impossible situations." - Charles R. Swindoll

Take a Different Kind of Inventory

That NOW MOMENT back in the late 1990s not only interrupted my negative pattern of focusing only on how bad things were, it also evoked a litany of answers for creating future success. “What do we have to work with NOW?” What resources, assets, and opportunities do you have available to you right NOW? Your particular business, through fresh eyes, is filled with untold treasures, in the same way a garage sales is like the Promised Land to eager neighbors. In my business, what we didn’t have was much cash flow. But we did have hundreds of customers whose names, addresses, and buying habits we knew. We had a lease that was paid up until the end of the month. The lights were still on - for another 3 weeks! We had dealer agreements and relationships with our suppliers that allowed us to connect customers with the products and solutions they needed, both NOW and in the future. In the NOW, everything becomes an opportunity!

"The best thing about the future is it only comes one day at a time." - Abraham Lincoln

What treasures are lurking behind the pain and numbness of your business? If things are still spinning too quickly, making it hard for you to get a fix on your opportunities, get off the merry-go-round! In whatever business you are in, I encourage you to step out from your daily demands long enough to take a NOW moment. And don't just get off to immerse yourself in some mind numbing or escapist behavior, only to have to return to the pain of your job or business in an even foggier condition than when you left. When you take a real NOW moment, stop all of your busyness and assess your surroundings and assets by asking yourself these three questions:

1. "What do I have to work with right NOW?"

2. "What is the best use of these resources NOW?"

3. "What could I do NOW that would take full advantage of these resources, to the benefit of my customers, my staff, and my family?"

You may find that you’ve been spending too much time in the office communicating with QuickBooks® when your strength is in communicating with clients. Perhaps your NOW moment will remind you as mine did of the importance of working within your strengths. How can you and I keep wearing a face that shows the stress of business and expect customers to be excited about buying our products and services? When I decided to pay a bookkeeping service to carry the weight of my office for me, it freed me both literally and emotionally to follow through with our clients as never before. The result? We opened a new location in just 3 months.

That business of mine survived for many years and through many market fluctuations, challenges, and flat-out disasters while many others had gone extinct. I didn't even need an actor or a stunt double to take my place! I just needed to step out of the pressure long enough to see that in the NOW, my business had value, purpose, and a reason to be. All I needed were some committed business experts to work their magic in the areas in my back office so I could rediscover my passion and purpose again.

Are you ready for your own NOW moment? Late tonight or early in the morning, before the phones ring and the demands of life take hold, take a moment for the NOW. It won’t be long before you are back to enjoying not only your business, but each and every person you meet while on the journey to your next level of success. -TT

©2009 Tiger Todd * All Rights Reserved * For Reprint Permission,

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