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Don’t Follow Them, They’re Lost Too

  

 Don't follow me, I'm lost too!

Don't follow me, I'm lost too!

 

“Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.” 

It’s more than a bumper sticker. But not everyone who doesn’t know where they are going wears this bumper sticker. Think about it. 

We tend to assume that the ideas and trends others are following are the right direction. They and their ideas are talked about in the media, at conferences, and by salespeople who sell the stuff they sell. Sometimes those folks are just doing something they didn’t really think about, or that makes no good sense, financially or otherwise. But it is something different to talk about, write about, and follow.Did you know that speakers and writers get credit for intelligence they don’t necessarily posses? 

I frequently tell folks to check me out. I ask them to verify what they think they hear me say. Then verify what I said. Does it stand the test of time? Does it stand the test of the numbers? Does what I say make logical sense? Does it make sense for them? Do they think it is the right decision? And finally, is it their own decision, based not only on what I say, but on what they believe to be correct based on their own evaluation of the evidence? 

  

 What are they up to?

What are they up to?

 

The Blind Leading the Blind 

We recently have adopted two young boys. Kevin is 7. His brother, Christian is 5. When we see the two of them talking to each other the first thing that comes to mind is the question, “what are they up to?” Because of the incomplete wisdom that comes with their ages we suspect they may be conspiring to do something they shouldn’t . 

When I hear that a group of my clients are visiting retailers and suppliers together (as two of them are while I write this) the same feelings creep in. I trust that they’ll make wise decisions, especially the one to ask for objective input before they leap. There is a good reason they are clients, and that is because they truly want to avoid wasting their time, energy, and risk their future by making some of the poorer decisions that they have seen others make, and have made themselves in the past. At least I can provide a sounding board with a greater depth of experience and knowledge as well as the invaluable objective viewpoint. 

The most important thing is that they are investing time and money to practice their craft of being leaders of their business by going outside of their own space, and evaluating what they see against what they know. 

Brainstorming Can Be A Lot of Fun 

I enjoy brainstorming. When good people get together and talk about possibilities there is a tendency for the conversation to gain momentum and sometimes it gets ahead of practicality and reality. What one person says is often “improved upon” by the other and before you know it the idea has either snowballed way out of proportion or gone off in a tangent. Now we can get back to practicality and reality. But not so fast. The science of running a business is not at all – all logical. The most important part of the science of a most business is the illogical, full-on emotional reasons people will buy from it. Seth Godin, a popular business speaker and best-selling author recently wrote in his blog, 

“The market is not seduced by logic. People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery. Logic is a battering ram, one that might work if your case is overwhelming. Wal-Mart won by logic (cheap!), but you probably won’t.”

I have to trust at this point that if these clients I’m talking about (they know who they are) come up with any new notions that they’re in safe territory. I’ve taught them everything I can the best way I know how. But I still hope that they will run their ideas past me before jumping off the proverbial cliff. I will ask some questions, direct them to answers, and ask them to make the best, and right decision for them. 

Get Good Advice is Good Advice 

As smart as any of us may be it is always better to get advice from a variety of sources. Remember that the advice is as good as the knowledge and experience of those you get it from. One of the most important roles I play is to connect people with the information they need to have. It is also important that they get the information themselves. And always take the time to check the data so you can balance advice with the facts. Both are necessary to make the best decisions. Yes, you should always take the time to gather the facts and get good advice, and then follow it – most of the time. 

“What is the best thing you learned?”, financial consultant, Steve Bailey asked. This question came up at the conclusion of a Regional Financial Review meeting of the owners and managers of six companies gathered in Portland, Oregon. One of the now wiser members of that group is Tim Elbert, owner of Four Seasons Nursery in Medford, Oregon who answered, “Do what Sid says the first time.” 

I am not repeating this story to make myself look good. It represents what I hope is an objective view of one wise person to  others as well as back to himself. What he was really saying is that his financial results revealed that he not only did the right thing to seek good advice, but that he should also remember that if it is truly good advice it is better to acknowledge that and to follow it. If you determine it is not good advice, then of course, don’t follow it. 

What good advice have you been given that you are glad you received? 

Can you tell of any good advice you were given that you wish you had followed? 

 

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One Response

  1. Great post! Thanks

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