I was relaxing one evening and watching a Bon Jovi concert on TV. The guitar solo Richie Sambora suddenly unleashed had the audience mesmerized. He is a master guitarist. He has mastered his trade through countless hours of practice, exploration and most of all, passion.
There are a lot of people who admire how Richie Sambora plays. He played a Fender guitar which many would buy at the nearest Guitar World. Or you could get his original guitar at Rock Star Guitar, a website of original artists’ guitars. People buy the guitar to identify with the great guitarist they uphold. It even bleeds over into an illusion – “If I buy this guitar, it makes me a great guitarist.” Now that may be more subconscious than apparent for the average person. My question is why spend hundreds of dollars on a Richie Sambora guitar? Why not take the money and invest it into expert guitar lessons?
That’s the rub in life. That’s the daily issue we see in business. We fixate on instruments and tools. We buy top of the line tennis racquets instead of invest in quality tennis lessons. The truth is that Tiger Woods can play with my clubs and shoot under par at the courses in a 25 mile radius of my office. Tiger is what is the value. The clubs add an extra edge.
Why is it that so many business people act differently than world-class athletes? The athletes all have coaches. The average person does not make the keen observation that world-class people have advisors and coaches. The reason they do is because who they are and what they become is of infinite more value than the gadgets, gear and gimmicks they adorn themselves with. Being world-class prompts the need for the best equipment for sure. Lance Armstrong would not have the success he did without the best bike equipment in the world. He was constantly optimizing it. However, the spotlight and noise of media fanfare drowns out the real work that got him there. He spent countless lonely hours becoming the best.
I find it humorous in our own business to watch the posers. They are the ones who come around looking for the technology, tools and techniques we use. They figure that if they have it, then surely it will be a shortcut to more dollars. Sure, they find a tool here or there, but they soon come to find that it’s not the tool. It’s how you use it. That means you have to be a certain type of person with acumen and strategic ability. Now, that is hard to find. The rest are looking for guitars, tennis racquets and golf clubs. They focus on stuff rather than substance.
It is the salesperson who has no strategy, but he tries the newest sales pitch he heard. It is the marketer who bought some marketing software and she quits after a couple times of not seeing results. They think that it did not work, when they cannot be honest and see that it is them that did not work. There are thousands of people using the sales approach or the software and making it work. So the question is not, “Does the tool work?” It is, “Do you work?”
Of course, that would mean that you are big enough to ask yourself honest questions. It is as Richard Feynman stated, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” Innately as human beings, we have trouble seeing our blind spots, much less admitting we have them.
Are you trying to do business by grabbing hold of techniques, tools and tricks without paying the price of being the person who qualifies to use these business essentials? You will be like the audience members at cooking shows. Your kitchen will be filled with all the utensils and cooking equipment, but at the end of the day, you are not a world-class cook. You put your money and attention on the cart and put it before the horse.
Instead of sitting on the sidelines looking for an answer to your business problems, how about doing these three things to become world-class:
- Invest In Yourself. Every dollar you put into your abilities to grow – reading, coaching, seminars, knowledge – produces dollars. This comes first. Before buying an expensive computer, get into a training program to learn how to navigate the technology like a black belt. Then buy the computer.
- Get Strategic. Are you doing business by accident? Hope is a poor strategy. What plan is behind your actions? Do you call people and waste their time? Do you have a specific destination and roadmap for how you are going to achieve your goals? If not, you are merely running in circles. If you are not strategic, get help to become strategic.
- Buy Expertise With The Tool. We need enablers to grow our businesses and life. Our self-sufficiency is a major blindspot. Somebody has paid the price and mastered what you are trying to learn. Everyone has access to the same tools. The difference will lie in how you use it. So, how about making how you use it your differentiator? Invest more in becoming an expert rather than buying a fancy tool.
The new economy is fair. It does not reward shortcuts. Those with true know-how and talent prevail. It is what excites me. I am always willing to pay the price when others are looking for shortcuts. I look at Richie Sambora and get inspired by who he became rather than what guitar he is playing. Like Sambora, I can take an array of similar business tools and make them work strategically to grow a person’s business. I made business my performance and stage. I hope you will approach your trade with the ability to see what really matters – who you are becoming. The tools work best for masters of their trade.