THE HUGE MISTAKE by Dan S. Kennedy

Based on a discussion @ Gold/VIP-Millionaires Group 2006

The specifics of the discussion are not important, but here’s what happened: one Member was on the “hot seat”, talking about his business, past, present and future, and at one point, another Member piped up and suggested an idea, quickly, briefly. The Member on the hot seat acknowledged him but brushed it off and continued talking about what he next planned to do. I let it pass at the moment, but thought better of it later, and interrupted our meeting to talk about what had happened.

Unfortunately, the incident is very, very, very common. Even smart and successful businesspeople are too often “knee jerk reaction” quick to judge an idea they read or hear or a suggestion given them as inappropriate to their business. Our focus can be our downfall.  The smarter reaction, in this case, and in many, is to make a written note of the suggestion or idea, make sure you understand it, and if you don’t want to be de-railed, set it aside to think about later. But by all means, return to actually think about it.

Every idea or suggestion attempting to enter your environment, for your consideration, runs up against a line of guards, a pre-set array of defenses, built from your present “picture” of your business, your beliefs about how it works and what it is and where it’s going – so that anything that doesn’t easily match up with what’s already there is swatted away automatically, thoughtlessly.

McDonalds Corporation fought a few renegade franchisees tooth and nail, very stubbornly, for an extended time period before grudgingly giving in to their insistent wish to be in the breakfast business. For years, McD’s restaurants all opened at 11:00 AM, not before. They were, after all, in the hamburger business. The very idea of “breakfast” had no place to land. Of course, now, it’s about 1/3rd of the gross and I’d guess an even higher percentage of net. But few ideas are so persistent.

 What’s worst, though, is when you deliberately put yourself into an environment to get new and different ideas and suggestions, but still keep your defenses up, still let those that don’t fit be swatted away instantly. Why come to a mastermind meeting and operate this way?  I see people at seminars, conferences and in these mastermind meetings paying attention to people they view as “like them” and in “similar” businesses, then letting their attention wander to other things when someone in a different and “unrelated” business is talking. All this does is reinforce business and marketing incest. It’s re-circulation of similar thought and experience, like the (toxic) re-circulated air in airplanes (ever since they outlawed smoking and no longer need fresh air added during flight).  The whole point of participating in a mastermind environment is to find and consider FRESH ideas. As a result, incidentally, I’ve decided to outlaw laptops in my coaching group meetings in 2007. I realize people use them to take notes, but I also see the computers acting as a gian distraction…people “playing”, going to sites, checking e-mail, etc., when they should be fully engaged in the meetings. So, for 07, there will be no cellphones, no Blackberrys, no Blueberrys and no laptops permitted inside my meetings. If somebody finds that untenable, they need not join.

Back to “The Idea That Doesn’t Fit”: the McDonalds example is only one of hundreds I personally know of, and, I’m sure, tens of thousands I don’t.  So one thing to keep in mind is that it is, more often than not, The Idea That Doesn’t Fit that turns out to be the real breakthrough in a business.  Beyond that, remember that business is about change of two kinds; evolution and revolution. Your business is a living, breathing, changing organism in a fast changing marketplace. What didn’t fit five years or five months ago might be the perfect fit now. Or might be five months down the road.

This does not mean I advocate embracing every wild hair idea that comes along or every suggestion anyone makes – even a bona fide expert. I don’t even advocate embracing every truly good idea, every viable opportunity. The more successful you are, the less new stuff you can embrace, or you’ll drown in too much opportunity or be paralyzed by too many ideas. Just because it can be done in your type of business doesn’t necessarily mean it should be done in your business. There are many considerations other than practicality and profit, including your own personal preferences, comparative size and value of each opportunity, degree of difficulty, etc.  But too quickly, easily, cavalierly, thoughtlessly say “that does not compute” is The Huge Mistake.

As a matter of fact, most people don’t actually reject The Idea That Doesn’t Fit. They don’t hear it at all. In our meeting, when I returned to this an hour or so after the incident, the recipient of the suggestion couldn’t even tell me what the suggestion was that had been made, that he’d brushed off. He knew he’d done it. But he didn’t know what he’d rejected. Truth is, he never really heard it. What happened was more like the old game “name that tune”; he’d only heard the first few bars before swatting it away.

There are a number of times I’ve heard a suggestion I immediately reacted negatively to, because it did not fit, but by letting it roll around in my subconscious for a day or night or a few days and nights, I found merit. In a few cases, this has produced a great deal of money. You’ve probably had such an experience too. But you have to wonder, how many times haven’t you had this experience when you might have, due to such an instantaneous “doesn’t fit” reaction that the idea never had a chance?  Gotta give ‘em all a chance.

It happens all the time in coaching group settings and when I’m consulting privately; my suggestion or someone else’s get swatted away without even having a chance. Most of the time I no longer fight it. I’m just not up for the fight. But this time I did. And I’ll tell you the same thing I told the group: try catching yourself at this. Be consciously aware. Make a point of writing down every idea and every suggestion before “crossing it off”.

By the way, at that same meeting, another Member was clearly tempted to instantly reject an apparently impractical suggestion – but fought back the urge and instead explored it. At last count, he was over $200,000.00 ahead.

Stop. Listen. Write. Explore.

© 2006/ Dan S. Kennedy,

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