Monthly Archives: September 2009

Lazy River

Tambo River
Image via Wikipedia

Rivers meander.  It seems there’s  no rhyme or reason to the way they flow. Why is that?

Water takes the path of least resistance.  Oh that ground is a little bit higher? Curve to the left.  Easily eroded banks?  Get wider.  Have more water than necessary? Spread out everywhere until there’s equilibrium.  Brings whole new meaning to the term lazy river doesn’t it?

Now imagine what how it would feel to be in a rudderless boat on that river.  How picturesque to simply go wherever the water takes you.  The easy way to go through life…or is it?

Is it really easier to take the hairpin turns than to pick up the boat and walk to the straighter section?  Is it easier to let the water take the boat toward rocks than to make the effort to steer it away?  Which is easier – let the river guide you over the waterfall or work like mad to get to shore?

So many people follow the easy way.  When criticized for poor customer service they blame the lack of good workers instead of their failure to make customers a number one priority.  Numerous small businesses have lost money to trusted bookkeepers because owners refuse to take the steps to understand their financial reports.  It’s very common for companies to focus solely on their existing customers because getting new ones requires new thinking.

The other issue with taking a river’s approach to business is that it can easily get out of control.  Every year we see the havoc of a flood or a hurricane.  The damage is massive and sometimes it’s permanent.  Only 50% of all businesses make it past five years so it appears that either many owners are taking the go with the flow approach or they didn’t see the rising water before it was too late.

Clearly this is not picturesque.

I have never met a long time business owner who took the easy way out more than once or twice. (We have all done it – let’s be honest.) The gargantuan amount of effort to overcome the adverse and unexpected results simply isn’t worth it.

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The Invisible Space

I spent a lot of my adult life in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration.  I loved it.  I have a few clients in the HVACR field and I enjoy keeping a finger on the pulse of that industry.

There are a lot of parallels between my former work and life.  When weather is perfect, say 75 degrees and 50% humidity, people are in the “comfort zone” which means there is no work because neither heating nor cooling is required.  In regular life? You can’t be comfortable and motivated to change at the same time.  There’s very little progress without pain.

Another is the principle behind this blog title.  One degree can make all the difference.  Water is a very cold liquid at 33 degrees.  But when it reaches 32 degrees it’s frozen.   Everyone knows water is a very hot liquid at 211 degrees but a burn is much more severe at 212 degrees when it boils.  (By the way it’s not the steam that’s hottest.  It’s the invisible space right above the boiling water.  The steam means the water vapor is cooling down.)

But what does it take to get to that extra degree, that change of state?  It takes a whole lot of energy.  It seems illogical but heat is released when water becomes frozen.  Ever notice it feels warmer when it is snowing at 32 degrees than raining at the same temperature?  The heat released from boiling water is equivalent to 973 matches burning per minute.

So we’re going to talk about how to get to that invisible space.  How to expend that blast of energy so it makes a difference.  I can’t wait!

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