Two Powerful Business Tools You Already Own
This post is approximately a 4-5 minute time investment.
This afternoon, my husband called out a warning to me from his home office, just on the other side of the kitchen. "There are a couple of salesmen headed towards the front door!" I immediately called back, "Can you get it? I'm in the middle of something!" To which he replied, "You're better at saying no than I am!"
Well, this is true.
So we waited.
Later he came in and opened the front door to see if they left a pamphlet or something. Nope.
Then it hit us - our doorbell is broken! They must have rung the bell. No one answered, of course. They lost a sale. Well, since it was going to be me answering the door, they lost the opportunity to hear a creatively phrased "no thank you" along with the offer of a cold bottle of water to go.
If they had just been slightly innovative and used a more old fashioned tool, namely, their knuckles, and knocked on the door, they would have at least gotten a bottle of water or two for their troubles.
That got me wondering how many times in business, entrepreneuring (Yes, I'm still rooting for that word to be a thing. #entrepreneuring) and life, that we're not getting the results we want because we're using the wrong tool to communicate.
Or maybe we're using the right tool, but our timing is off.
Or maybe it's just the wrong tool for the people we're trying to reach.
It could be one or all of the above, but the bottom line is that no matter how hard we're trying, our message is simply not getting through.
The salesmen at the door were used to doing it the same way, right? They had their routine down pat. They would walk up to the door and ring the doorbell. It always worked before, so why not now? If they had only had the capacity to think outside the box, and go all old-fashioned and knock on the door, they would have gotten an answer.
Wonder if some of us are guilty of the same thing?
Here are two useful business tools you already own that will help you grow in your capacity to think outside the box.
1. Your mind.
What? Yes. You can't think outside the box if you're not actually thinking at all. We are drowning out here with all the information and dare I say it, "content" that is available to us. It's everywhere. Here are five titles I found when I did a quick Google search with the words "five things."
"Five Things That Won't Get You Hired."
"Five Things You Shouldn't Wear on a Plane."
"Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day."
"Five Things That Can Make You a Better Parent Right Now."
"Five Things That Might Kill You at the Olympics."
So, guess what?
I started my day today.
I did not read the 3rd article.
My day started anyway. Bet yours did too.
So we used our minds to disprove that oh-so-enticing, extremely clickable title.
Just because an article says you need to do something doesn't actually mean you need to do something. This is where that handy-dandy process known as thinking comes in.
For the most part, it seems like the media doesn't want us to think. Even though we're not in middle school any more, peer pressure is alive and well, and the media is not afraid to use it. It's everywhere.
So use that powerful tool, your mind, to think. When it comes to all the content that is out there, and all the opinions, and all the advice, think. Check the facts. (Also, check out MAQTOOB for a humongous amount of other amazingly helpful business tools.)
One of the things I'm doing with Ink & Key at the moment is taking articles that have promising and hopeful titles like "Ten Things to Do Right Now to Boost Your SEO," and trying to do everything they say to do, step-by step, to see if the advice so generously offered actually does what the article says it will do. So far, I'm getting mixed results. I will say, though, that an approach like this has been helpful since it's forcing me to THINK.
2. Your will.
Thinking outside the box is quite refreshing, but if it stops there, well, it stops there. If one of those salesmen had the capacity to think beyond his routine and the random thought had entered his mind, "What if the doorbell is broken?" but that's all that happened, his outside-the box thinking would have proven useless. He would have had to use his will to take action.
"No one is coming to the door. The doorbell might be broken. Therefore, I choose to knock on the door."
Your will is your "chooser."
It's truly powerful, and since it's connected to your mind, you can choose what your mind is going to meditate on. Unless, of course, someone says, "Whatever you do, don't think about polka-dot monkeys walking on a tightrope."
When it comes to starting your day, you get to choose what to think about.
Will you cultivate a thankful spirit by meditating on what you're grateful for?
Will you cultivate a critical spirit by meditating on what everyone around you is doing wrong, and how you are quite sure you could fix everything, including the bad traffic and the awful coffee at the office if they would just listen to you?
You don't have to allow every random thought to keep rolling, although most of us are guilty of doing just that, and then we pin the blame for our bad moods on others or hormones or stale coffee.
Your will can help you in your business. We don't have to allow our emotions to dictate our choices. Just because I feel like staying in bed this morning doesn't mean I get to.
Powerful people are those who have taken the time to discipline their minds, taking the wrong kind of thinking "captive" and choosing to meditate on the right kind of thinking.
Choosing to do something even if you don't feel like it creates a habit by training your emotions through consistency to know that your will is the boss.
Go ahead and acknowledge how you feel, then choose to do the right thing.
Habits are formed over time when your emotions are trained to submit to your will.
Powerless people are those who have not taken the time to discipline their minds, and therefore, their emotions are allowed to dictate their choices.
The salesmen at the door used the right tool. It just happened to be broken. They didn't connect with us because they didn't think outside the box and take action.
If the client I'm aiming for isn't reading my blog either here or on Medium, he or she won't share it on social media, comment enthusiastically (hint-hint) click through to my website, realize that our little team is the answer to every single problem in the universe and hire us on the spot. So do I give up and walk away like those salesmen just because I didn't make the connection I wanted to?
I think outside the box and take action. I use my Kohl's 30% off coupon, shop the 70% off rack and buy a couple of outfits slightly more presentable than my usual jeans and tee shirt attire. I get in my trusty mini-van and head downtown to meet those potential clients in person, new business cards in hand.
Not that this person is actually me. We can pretend, though.
What are some ways you've found success by thinking outside the box? I'd love to hear your story.
*(Free advice alert: It turns out that the whole idea that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit is a myth. Don't let that discourage you, though. Your will is a lot more powerful than you think.) Highlight to tweet or share @inkandkey