No more business as usual

Shop Talk

The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, expecting different results. In over 50 years as an entrepreneur and owner of multiple businesses, it is evident many businesses around the world function from this insanity.

Rather than choosing to do things ‘different’, (yes, I do mean different, not differently) owners and CEOs often seek to maintain the status quo, conduct business as usual, and keep things within the range of ‘normal’. They look for a slightly different result when something needs to be changed rather than completely eliminating what isn’t working. The operative state is, “If I can just make this work, everything will be ok.”

If you want greater results or something different for your business, you have to do it from a different position. It’s not about doing the same thing differently—it’s about doing something entirely different. Differently is sort of changing it. Different is another universe.

Whether you’re the owner of a start-up looking for tips and tricks, a business facing difficulties, or a successful business looking to create growth and expansion – you can surpass anything you have created before if you are willing to go beyond business as usual and into business done differently.

Here are my top three tips to get of the business as usual treadmill

Be an extrapolator, not a configurator
Configurators do just that – they configure. They take one piece of information and try to fit it into the slots of all the things they have already decided are true and real. They don’t change anything and they don’t do anything different. They just try to make the idea you gave them another tool in the toolbox to keep things going. It’s the same as continuously fixing a car that is broken down, rather than getting a new one.

Extrapolators, on the other hand, are people who see ten different possibilities. They get ten different images of something that’s possible, and they say, “If I take this one over here on the right, and this one on the left, and this one in the middle, and this one on the not-so-far right, and put them all together, I can create something different.”

Extrapolation is the way progress occurs. Extrapolators create the most change and the most possibility.

Educate yourself without becoming a follower
Successful business people educate themselves on topics that pertain to their business, and rather than taking everything they read or hear as fact, they consider the information and ask themselves, “What do know about this? Will implementing this work for me and my business? Is there additional information I require to be aware of?”

Most of us have been trained to do what other people do, and to simply do it better, which is ok, but do you wish to create ‘ok’ or do you wish to create greater?

When you hear a great idea or listen to someone speak about a new concept, rather than taking that and simply trying to create a better version of the same thing, extrapolate and come up with something that has not existed before. Ask, “What can I create that I have not considered?”

Be willing to let go of what is not working
I had a friend once who used to make pottery. He worked with the thick, dense clay potters used in the 1970s, and he would make thin, delicate pieces that felt like porcelain. He was a big, hulking guy with massive hands, arms, and shoulders, and he would use his strength to create delicate, fragile pots. He’d fire them, take them out of the kiln, and say, “Oh, this thing is cracked,” and he’d throw it on the ground and shatter it into a million pieces.

I’d say, “No, please don’t do that! Let me buy it!”

He’d say, “No, it’s not good enough.” He was willing to throw away what he saw as not good enough rather than putting out something that was less than what he knew was possible.

Steve Jobs functioned this way as well. Even if he had spent millions trying to develop something, when a better idea came along, he’d drop the millions he had spent and develop the new idea. He was willing to let go of everything that was yesterday, so he was constantly on a creative edge in the present.

Creating in the present moment is key. Institute today what you desire for the future and be willing to let go of anything that does not match that future.

Doing business as usual is an easy trap to fall into because most of us are committed to getting it right. When you are willing to go beyond the status quo, to ‘risk’ going into unfamiliar territory, ask questions, create in the present moment, extrapolate and let go of what is not working, you become the leader who is willing to go where no one has gone before and it is in this place that new inventions, experiences and possibilities are born.

This article first appeared on It has been edited for brevity and republished here with permission.

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