Forget What Was

By | July 29, 2010

The NCAA was tired of watching Lew Alcindor beat opponents by dunking the ball over their heads effortlessly, so they outlawed dunking in college basketball. Coach John Wooden talked with a distraught Alcindor and told him to forget what was and focus on what is. He then encouraged him to find a different way to shoot, thus the Sky Hook was created. When Alcindor turned pro where dunking was legal he was doubly equipped to score over opponents with two deadly shots.

We need to focus more on what is and what will be than in what was.

Business owners are still wishing for a return to how things used to be, wishing for the clock to roll back to the good times. Forget what was; let’s deal with winning with what is.

Be in the present

I am asked frequently about what can be done to win in the present times. Here are my tips for finding success in the current economic climate. It all starts with the fundamentals.

Stop comparing

Businesses have a habit of comparing this year with the year before, the best year, the worst year and the same month of the previous year. Forget it. The comparisons are unfair. Why are they unfair? Because they are not comparing equals. New businesses come to town, traffic patterns change, economic shifts happen beyond your control, and buying habits of consumers change. Sadly in good times we loved those comparisons because they improved (frequently beyond our control) and we loved the ride. Today those comparisons beat us down. To borrow from John Wooden once again – forget the winning and the bottom line. Take care of performing the fundamentals with excellence and the winning will take care of itself.

Focus forward

Looking at what used to be isn’t going to get us where we are going when the business world is so different. The rules of engagement have changed when dealing with employees, customers, vendors, and investors. Today’s times require a renewed focus on where you are going and what tools are the best to use to get you there. An Internet presence has never been more important than today, the ability to make changes rapidly has never been as necessary as today, and being able to find the hidden pockets or revenue has never been as important in your business’s lifecycle as right now.

It’s time to navigate where you are going not where you have been.

Hard work and hustle

With the advance of technology greater demand is placed on small businesses to keep up on all fronts; and it seems fronts keep adding on! Not only do you have to be on the front page of a Google search, you need to have a solid presence in social media and have multiple sites, and that is just in the online marketplace.
I hear all the time from small business owners, “How am I going to get everything done?” In this economy where everyone is going after scarce dollars the winners are those who out-hustle and out-work the competition. Many businesses got away from the basics in the good times. Now it’s time to ramp up the effort, energy and commitment.


Try stuff

If you aren’t experimenting, innovating and trying new things on a daily basis your business will constantly be playing catch up. Forget perfection. Forget trying to find a groove. Try stuff and embrace the volatility of change and you will see your victories returning like it used to be.

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