As a business advisor, the story I am going to share with you is one that I see more often than not. There is a story in the Book of Genesis about two brothers – Esau and Jacob. Though they are twins, Esau was the firstborn allowing him the full benefits of the “birth-right,” therein. In a sense, he had a built-in trust fund waiting to inherit.
Their family had learned to be cunning in their dealings. Jacob learned this skill as well. The story is told that one day when Esau came back from hunting, he was famished and tired. He asked his brother Jacob to relieve his hunger. Seeing Esau’s predicament, Jacob cut a business deal. Esau gave up his birthright for one bowl of soup. He was so focused on his present pain that he could not see value in something far off.
Later, Jacob deceived his own father and received a blessing under disguise as Esau. He received blessings while Esau received curses.
The story is told with a commendation of Jacob’s behaviors. I like Jacob for his ability to see value and pursue it. His methods are questionable; however, he is admirable because he risked everything he had to get what was valuable. He paid a price for the value he sought. It was value that was beyond any instant gratification.
We are around Esau people every day. They would go for the bowl of soup. They are near-sighted. They have a hard time paying a price. It is easy to win against such people. Just pay a price they will not. Working harder, gaining more knowledge, and spending more money are hard for cost-conscience people. They ask how little they can give for a dollar rather than how much. Business becomes about them, not you. Cost gets in the way.
It is obvious why so many business people fail. They are not willing or able to pay a price. They can only focus on what is in front of them and don’t truly go after what they want. They expect everyone around them to pay. They believe business works by investing as little as possible and expecting to get as much as possible at the cost of others.
Today is a great time to separate yourself from people who lack vision and passion and move into opportunities where the value players exist. Think about how you play the game of making money. If your mindset is always focused on cost, then watch out. You are always exposed. The guy who is willing to pay a price you are not will displace you. You may be good at spending other people’s money or using other people’s time, but that is because you can only think about the soup.
If your mindset, however, is to persevere, work harder than the next guy and pay a price, then the opportunities are abundant. Most people do not go the extra mile, much less the extra foot. The story of Esau later comments that his pathetic business transaction resulted in remorse and tears, yet he could change nothing though he desperately tried.
Pay a price. Learn to pay all the time. You will be developing the habits of winning in whatever endeavor you pursue. Peter Drucker reminds people, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Your good fortune may only be because someone else paid a price. Learn to pay a price and you will be finding the missed fortunes the short-sighted people around you cannot step into.