Missing the obvious

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

Here is an old story worth telling. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night and go to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.

“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke: “Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!”

So many perspectives, yet Doctor Watson missed the most obvious one.

When success is concerned, the proper perspective coupled with a positive mindset is essential. Some time ago, a young person aspiring to write a book asked me a pointed question, “Francis, how and when do you get the inspiration to write so many books?”

I remember the surprise on his face when I pulled a line straight from Sean Connery’s character in the movie “Finding Forrester.” I even imitated his accent. I said, “First, you write with your heart. Then you write with your head.” I have never waited for inspiration to come in all my writings and lesson preparations. I am too impatient, and I have always started on projects knowing that inspiration is created through activity.

Steven Pressfield writes in Turning Pro, “The amateur waits for inspiration; the professional knows that it will come after he starts. The professional knows that the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work sets in motion a mysterious process that produces inspiration.”1

So the right perspective and the proper mindset for success cover the following elements:

1. Ditch the waiting and get started

We have fears and doubts. Starting a business? Writing a book? Accepting the promotion? Waiting for the right time and the inspiration to do so might make you wait forever, and meanwhile, you let your most important resource slip out of your hand, which is the time you have for the moment. Thinking about it will get you nowhere. Action is the best way to overcome anxiety, dread, and fear. And when you start the action, you will know what needs adjustments and what right things you are doing, and you will experience small wins and incremental results. Voila! Inspiration comes, improvement builds confidence. Competence leads to confidence, and in my experience, most people at this stage ask: “Why did it take me so long to get started?”

2. Exert effort, yet be patient with the results

All successful people I know are disciplined people. They see the magic of delaying gratification. They are focused, and they fight off temptation and distraction. They stick to doing what they have decided is most important. They give their best effort, yet they patiently wait for results. They understand that building worthwhile things takes time and takes work.

3. Park the ego in the parking lot

Successful people understand well that success and failure are parts of the same equation. They are resilient in the face of failure yet humble when in front of accomplishments and achievements. When they have setbacks, they get back and continue with their ego and pride unfazed.

4. Fall in love with the process and not just the results

If you want to be financially independent, start saving money, grow your income and learn financial management. If you want to reel in 100 customers this year, you must contact your prospects, make presentations, follow up and do this constantly. Your desires should not only be on the results, but you will have to love the process of getting the results. You will have to love the work. And when you do, you get “lucky!” Because actions create and open opportunities. The things you do, the people you meet, the process you learn, the corrections you make, tweaks, and tides and turns slowly position you strategically for opportunities, and you are prepared to grab them.

Going back, Pressfield also said that a professional has professional habits, and an amateur has amateur habits. The difference is that the amateurs may bounce around from one thing to another. At the same time, the professionals are relentless in doing the little things with stubborn consistently well that, over time, lead them to attain mastery and excellence. And with this perspective and mindset, you would notice the obvious. Not that the tent is missing, but hope for success is not a strategy but a discipline.



(Francis Kong’s podcast “Inspiring Excellence” is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or other podcast streaming platforms.)


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