I was listening to some older Richard Bandler audio programs this morning, and he said something that really stuck in my head.
He said – and I’m paraphrasing here – that most people, some sooner than later, reach a point in their lives where they stop living for the future and start trying to avoid the past.
They stop setting goals, looking forward in life and lose that excitement for what’s to some, and they start trying to hide from the past, to avoid reliving past mistakes and regrets, and start driving through life looking in the rear view mirror.
How true that is.
The more I thought on this, the more I realized most entrepreneurs do the same thing and for many that leads to stagnation, or worst, failure.
Let me explain…
Surely you’ve heard of muscular atrophy, or put another way “if you don’t use it you lose it“! Essentially, when a muscle is no longer being used to the degree that it was, it adjust accordingly and shrinks.
Stop all activity for long enough, and you can cause irreversible damage to that muscle.
You may have experienced a form of this if you’ve ever broken a bone and spent some time in a cast. As the time passes, the cast seems to get loose and by the time it gets removed, there’s usually a noticeable size difference in the affected muscles.
Your business is no different.
Many businesses suffer from what I like to call Business Atrophy.
Here’s the thing, a business is formed, the owners are excited, they fire on all pistons, they go nuts, are forward thinking and the future looks bright. Soon, business starts to flow in and now everyone gets busy working in the business and satisfying their clients.
Before you know it, business slows. The company stops doing what they were doing to generate business, and it starts to show.
Going back to the muscle, let me ask you a question: If I grab a 15 pound dumbbell and do a bicep curl, will my bicep grow? If I’ve been doing nothing before, yes it probably will. And it’ll keep growing for a little while until it hits a point where that 15 pounds isn’t enough to generate change. The muscle has changed, it’s grown, it’s adapted, it’s gotten better, and now it stops growing.
What got it to that point will NOT get it to the next level.
This is a more subtle, indirect form of Business Atrophy where the same actions produce diminishing results until eventually, all forward growth stops.
What got you here, won’t get you there.
When a business stops doing what it was doing to generate business, or continues to only do the same things that it’s always done it risk slowing down or worse, completely stopping.
And that’s assuming you have zero competition. Many companies grow to a significant size, get a case of Business Atrophy and seem to fall asleep at the wheel. They stop innovating the way they market, they stop innovating the product or service, they keep doing things the way they’ve always been done because, well, it worked before, and before you know it someone comes out of nowhere and overtakes them.
Here are a few notables that we’re once pinnacles but fell victim to Business Atrophy
Now sure, some of these aren’t completely eliminated yet and everyone loves a come-back-kid, but it’s going to take major innovation, something no one will see coming, a total change in direction to break free from their dreaded downward spiral.
Bringing this back to you and I… Are you looking forward, are you thinking ahead, are you planning for the future, are you constantly seeking to improve and innovate?
Or are you driving your business (heck, or LIFE) looking in the rear view mirror?
I challenge you to learn from the past, remember where you came from, live in the moment but always keep an eye on the future.
Here’s what I like to do: Set a side an hour every week, or even bi-weekly, to think about innovation in a completely judgement free way. Brainstorm how you could completely turn every inch of your business on it’s head.
- How can change the way you sell? What if you added or removed field sales people? What if you used the phone again? What if you used a mailer? What if you went the MLM route? What if you paid clients to sell? What if you hosted parties? What if you ran a sports event? What if you used charities? What if you made your product free instead? What if you tripled the price, cut the clients down in half, had more time and made more money? What if…
- How can you change your product? What if you got rid of it completely? What could you bring in that’s related? What can you offer that has no connection? What is something your existing clients really want? What if they made the product themselves? What would they build? What needs do you see not being met? What needs are going to appear in the future?
- What if you changed your staff? What if you got rid of all the desk? What if everyone worked from home? What if you put everyone in the field? What if you trained everyone to be self-aware and into personal development? What if you gave everyone business cards? What if everyone only worked 3 days a week? What if you brought a chef in? What if everyone was on commission?
I could go on, but this should be enough to stimulate your mind. The goal of this process is ZERO JUDGEMENT. If you read a few of the things I wrote and thought “That’s just ridiculous” then you did it wrong. No judgement. Just write write write. Let your brain flow. It’s out of this judgement free “creative data dump” that you could discover that one single gold nugget.
As Tony Robbins puts it: Always be in a state of CANI, which stands for Constant and Never Ending Improvement.
Avoid the fatal trap of Business Atrophy.
To your success,
PS – As I kept eluding in this article, this applies to all areas of life. I’ve been married for 8 years and I can tell you this: If you’re not courting your spouse every single day, you’ve got “Relationship Atrophy”. Don’t live for the past, don’t live in regret, don’t spend your days worrying about that one fight, that one mistake, that one person, etc. Live for today, live for tomorrow, and always be striving to bring new life, new energy, new passion into your relationships.
Every day ask yourself how you can improve the relationship with your kids. Ask how you can become better at your favorite sport. Ask how you can improve your poker skills, your curling game, your bedroom activities, and even dinner time.
If every day you strive to make it better than the day before, you’re on the right track. It’s not a perfect science, there will be ups and downs, but keep your eyes forward, keep your eyes focused on improvement, and raise your standards.