You May Not Be Human

What do you want today?  What do you want for this week?  The coming month?  This year?  If you want it, do you want it badly enough to go after it?

In a discussion with a friend of mine earlier today, I challenged him:  “You say you want something, but you never do anything to get it.  Ya know, if I said I wanted to lose weight, it’s not going to happen if I just sit on my butt all day, shoving junk food in my face.”  He replied, “It’s human nature to want something but never go after it.”  Really?  Because as I think about my friends, family members and acquaintances, I see a whole bunch of people who wanted something badly enough to go after it, including myself.

So, if there’s ever been anything you’ve wanted badly enough to work, sweat, and sacrifice for, chances are, you’re not human.  I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but I thought you should know.

I was thinking about some of my “not human” friends today.

  • At least three who’ve given up smoking in the past year, because they wanted better health.
  • Several recovering alcoholics.
  • Many, many who have lost a LOT of weight due to diligent exercise and changing their eating habits.  (One even did so well, he no longer needs insulin or other meds to manage diabetes.)
  • The countless others who have dared to pursue financial freedom through aggressive saving, debt-reduction, and wise investing.
  • Still others who are seeking financial independence through starting completely new businesses or diligently working to grow existing indie businesses.

Even animals want something enough to go after it.  Have you ever seen a lion chasing a gazelle?  The lion wants dinner, and that gazelle wants to see another sunrise.  The lion has choices – wounded wildebeest, slow zebra, less intense gazelle.  Chances are, the lion will eat.  The gazelle has two choices – run like hell or feed hungry lions.  There really is no other choice for him.

If even wild animals want something badly enough to pursue it by their very nature, then humans also, by nature, will go after what we want if we desire it badly enough.  The difference is, we have moral guidelines and societal mores to place some boundaries on what we go after.  Promotion?  Sure!  Neighbor’s husband?  Not so much.

If my friend is right and it’s not human nature to go after what we want, then I challenge you to embrace your non-humanness.  Be a gazelle.  Be intense about succeeding at what you want or failing as you go after it.  But DO IT.  And do it again.  And learn from every mistake, every miscalculation.  Don’t fail and say, “Well, I tried” and never try again.  Name the failure:  “Shoot!  I forgot to allow for that expense.”  “I didn’t work hard enough grasping that concept.”  “I messed up when I didn’t show up for work.”  Own it.  And learn from it.

Do you want the success bad enough?  Then go after it.  Do you want a better life, better health, more disposable income?  Then work for it.  You can do this!

Small Business Spotlight: A Greener Lawn

As a small business owner, nothing excites me more than watching small businesses, whether new or existing, do amazing things, and today I want to shine the light of excellence on a local chemical lawn service company, A Greener Lawn.  Being close to the owner as well as receiving amazing lawn service from him, I have a special perspective on how this business has grown from non-existent last month to a force to be reckoned with this one.

It started in December 2015 with news of an impending corporate take-over and resulting lay-offs.  Actually, it was a bit more coercive than that:  Lose your job, or join this other corporation that has a bad reputation and requires you to work 3 Saturdays a month on top of the Monday-Friday hours.  So for six months as the two corporations battled it out and decided what they were going to do, Peter made plans and established goals, backed by the advice and support of his boss.  When 14 July hit, the last day of his employment with his previous employer, he was ready.  (Actually, more accurately, I told him it was time to fish or cut bait, and he took the leap.)

Peter had had some brilliant guerrilla-style business strategies in mind, as well as some outside-the-box ideas that his former boss never wanted to implement, but with only himself to answer to, Peter had no problem taking these wild, creative ideas and putting them to work in his own business.  At the two-week mark, he said being in business for himself was “exciting.”

It’s been about six weeks now, and the business has certainly grown, thanks to Peter’s hard work, his indomitable work ethic, creative ideas, the love of his loyal customers, and even the positive word-of-mouth from his small business competitors and cohorts.  A competitor tried to get customers in an area that they’d agreed would be Peter’s.   Upon hearing that the customer had already signed up with A Greener Lawn, the competitor said, “He does good work, and he’ll treat ya right.”  How far do you think that word will spread in that very small town?

A friendly competitor just this week said he’d send customers to A Greener Lawn if they were outside his target area.  Over against all this, I’d say a sure sign of this company’s success is the fact that a large corporation is feeling threatened by this little start-up’s position in the local green industry.  Customer after customer is cancelling service with this corporation, the one that took over the previously existing company.  The sales reps are begging people to tell them who this company is.  If they find out his first name, they claim “all the techs from XYZ are working for us now,” and promise to send Peter right out.  Dishonest?  Yes.  Misrepresenting themselves?  Yes!

These are external manifestations and validations of success, but I think what will make this company successful is what the owner himself brings to the table.

  1. A Greener Lawn started out as a dream over 20 years ago.  That dream led to plans, goals, and finally, execution.  He owns all of it, including its success.
  2. The owner’s knowledge of the industry makes this company successful.  This is a guy who knows grasses, weeds, how to make grass green and lush, and how to make weeds disappear.  Peter is happy to share that knowledge with other professionals and his customers, believing that his customers’ knowledge will make them valuable colleagues in caring for their lawns.
  3. For the owner of A Greener Lawn, it’s not about the money.  Sure, making money is a good thing for every business, but that’s not the motivating factor for him.  In the course of a normal business day, he might retrieve a ball from a tree, let a new widow cry on his shoulder, or empathize with a customer’s health issues.  He values his customers and takes the time to care for them.  Part of the service includes walking around a customer’s lawn with them and listening as they discuss their concerns.
  4. Peter is really outside-the-box in his thinking.  He asks, “Why not?” and “How?” as he searches for ways to grow his business, takes even better care of his customers’ lawns, and matures as a business owner.  This takes guts, as outside-the-box thinking is more the exception than the norm, so there are few precedents to determine where a course of action will lead.

I’m excited to see how far this very young business will go.  It’s definitely off to an excellent start, and I see amazing things ahead!