Let’s start with a story.
Two business owners are in the same market, offer essentially the same products, target mutual markets, and yet at year end, produce very different results. One business is doing well, another is doing poorly. One business owner seems on top of their game, another isn’t succeeding. One business is growing, the other business is barely scraping by and the owner is beginning to wonder whether it is either time to sell, or maybe, just shut the doors.
What is the difference between the two businesses? There can be any number of factors to consider. Perhaps the owners differ in the amount of knowledge and skills they have for running a business; there may be a difference in the systems which have been put into place, or maybe they are missing all together. Consider the team that drives the business forward, how pricing is determined, marketing is presented, and how sales are made. Many factors play into the success and growth of a business. Yet, there is one characteristic that creates the largest differentiator between the two business environments. That is the mindset of the owner and/or leadership. How do they view, what is their perspective on every situation, every economic obstacle, every customer, and perhaps on life in general? The attitude of leadership sets the tone for the environment of the business.
Is there a pervasive attitude similar to Eeyore’s, Winnie-the-Pooh’s donkey friend? In this type of environment the we get below the line thinking which produces a string of blame, excuses, and denial manifested in the “woe is me” life is hard, this is what happened, I don’t get the same opportunities as others, the economy is really hurting, etc. In below the line thinking we often hear people blaming someone else, producing excuses for why things didn’t get accomplished, and denial that their attitude is a main source of the issues at hand. Below the line thinking creates a reason for everything and generates a need to be explained.
On the other hand, the attitude that propels above the line thinking is more like Pooh’s friends Kanga or Owl. Above the line thinking accepts ownership, accountability and responsibility for everything they do. They understand what they cannot control (economy, taxes, etc.) is only 10% of life; but what they have great control over is 90% of their life. This is what the author Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, calls the 90/10 rule. How your day goes is totally up to you, as is how you react to situations and what opportunities you achieved even through disastrous times. Steve Jobs got fired from Apple which most likely was not what he called the best day of his life, yet without being fired from Apple he would not have created Pixar and NeXT which are part of the foundation of the Apple products we love today. Above the line thinking creates results. Results don’t require explanations, they speak for themselves.
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