Skip to Content

Don’t Get Stuck in Reverse!

Published on December 18, 2014

Share Tweet Share

It’s hard to hit a target facing the wrong direction.

I love this quote by Gandalf the Gray from the book Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, “When we despair we cease to choose well. We give in to short cuts.” It’s so true and we all know that we have been guilty of it at some point in our lives.

It reminds me of the Dot-Com Bubble that burst in March of 2000 and caused the stock market to crash, I remember those heady days of “irrational exuberance” as Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan referred to it. It seemed like everyone was worried they were going to miss out on the digital revolution. They were motivated by the dreams of easy money. It was all about taking a short cut.

Several start ups approached me to help them promote their new Internet businesses in exchange for stock options. I looked at a couple of cobbled together companies that were little more than a guy with a website and the hopes of mining some venture capital. The idea was to generate web page hits with a clever name or gimmick, sell a ton of stock at the Initial Public Offering, then retire a millionaire. I decided to stick with those willing to pay in cash.

After the burst, I read about a repo man in Silicon Valley who repossessed the expensive cars of former Internet millionaires. He reported that he frequently found dozens of losing lottery tickets in the cars — evidence that the former car owners were acting out of despair and looking for short cuts back to the elusive wealth that had slipped from their grasp.

Beverly Sills, the famous opera soprano, once said, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” But, too often when times are good we pile on the responsibilities. Later on when we encounter adversity, we look backwards instead of forward. We attempt to go back to where we enjoyed success in the past even when it is counter-productive to our current goal.

In my seminars on innovation I conduct a fun exercise that demonstrates how we frequently feel we must go backwards before we can go forward. A volunteer from the audience is selected and sent out of the room. The audience chooses a simple behavior they want the volunteer to do (like jumping up and down on their left foot). What makes it fun is that the volunteer must guess the behavior. The audience can only help by saying the word, “yes” when the volunteer does anything that comes close to the desired behavior. They are not allowed to say, “no” or give any other hints.

Once the volunteer performs the desired behavior, the audience rewards it with a round of applause. I ask for a second volunteer, but this time we change the rules after the person leaves the room. When the desired behavior is reached, the audience goes silent, says nothing, and gives no applause. Since the volunteer is no longer getting feedback in the form of “yes” he or she will go back and repeat behaviors that did elicit a “yes.” The audience, however, remains silent.

As we watch the volunteer, we can see despair forming on his or her face. The volunteer will then go further backward to find a previous behavior that generated success. Eventually the volunteer quits going backwards and starts initiating brand new behaviors in the hopes of regaining another, “yes.” It is after several new behaviors are performed that the audience is signaled to applaud and reward the volunteer for his or her efforts. The purpose of the exercise is to force the volunteer to backtrack to the point that they realize success can only be found by moving forward.

In life, the trick is to stay focused even when our luck seems to be changing. We may have to slow down or make changes in our methods, but the goal must remain the same. Henry David Thoreau observed, “We rarely hit where we do not aim.” In other words, if you’re moving backward you are moving away from your goal… and it’s hard to hit a target when you’re facing the wrong direction.

Is your current job or business dwindling? Are you scraping the bottom of the well for success that is no longer there? Perhaps it is time for you to move forward. Consider exploring the world of franchises. There are thousands of opportunities; one of which is perfect for you. Begin your research today.

Written by Team

Thinking about buying a franchise?
Not sure how much can you afford?

Fill out our Franchise Affordability Calculator

Related Articles

Franchising and Murphy’s Law

When it comes to franchising, Murphy’s Law comes into play more often than desired. In many cases, a new franchise takes off slower than anticipated.

Read More

Growing Your Franchise System Takes More Than Leads

The emphasis on franchise system growth is as old as franchising, having been accepted as the indicator of a quality franchise.

Read More

Franchisors Need to Avoid Wasting Their Franchisee Leads

When franchisors strategize their system growth, the major focus is placed on the amount and quality of their franchisee leads.

Read More

The Two Traits You Need in A New Hire

After owning 4 successful businesses, in different business sectors, there are two common attributes my good hires have shared; Curiosity and Tenacity.

Read More

Monitoring your Consumer Sentiment Is Key to Selling your Franchise

In the franchise industry, franchisors can view comparisons and relationships between consumer satisfaction for the products or services a franchise offers.

Read More

The TOP 4 Traits Of A Successful Franchise System

These traits lead to low franchisee turnover, an attractive investment opportunity, outlet growth and brand recognition and consumer satisfaction.

Read More

The #1 Reason You Are Scared to Open Your Own Business

Owning a business is hard. Each venture has its differences – different customers, different go-to-market strategies, different business partners.

Read More