Working hard, or hardly working?
Whilst procrastinating one day I came across a very interesting article going over the correlation between individual intelligence and procrastination. (Looking for self validation much?) This was something like unconsciously slipping into a deeper level of procrastination inception. How wonderful. I was awakened to the profound connection that successful businesses share with the common traits of intelligent individuals. Is it so much of a stretch to consider that the life of a successful person would be so different from that of a successful business?
Let’s take a look at one such example and how it relates to what could be a shining star in the constellation of your best business practices. You may be surprised to find that you already employ some form of this business strategy.
Be Water, My Friend
At the top of the list is the characteristic of being highly adaptable. This trait is I think best understood through the intelligent philosophy and wisdom of Mr. Bruce Lee:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Reflecting on the business traits of a couple of my former employers, two solid examples come to mind that illustrate the value of being adaptable and therefore thriving in business. No matter the size of your business, there will more or less always be an opportunity to exhibit one of two traits: to be flexible, or to be unbending.
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
For four years I worked at Apple Retail in different capacities; ‘on the floor’ as a sales and product Specialist, ‘in the family room’ as a Creative and product trainer to customers, on the floor again as a Business Specialist in helping corporate customers, and finally ‘in the back of house’ as an Inventory Specialist. All that bouncing around within the company gave me a unique perspective in witnessing and using Apple’s methodologies in doing and experimenting in business.
As many tech-savvy people will tell you, Apple doesn’t necessarily have the best product when it comes to price point or features. But as the Apple device of your choice is showing you, it doesn’t have to be all about that all the time. Where larger technology companies have been underwhelming in the retail market and how they relate to customers, Apple has been largely successful in this capacity because of its ability to anticipate change, adapt to change, and react to change. Let’s also not forget about creating change. Apple excels in creating change as it relates to the experience of its customers.
Wax On, Wax Off
While there is of course tremendous value in doing what is tried-and-true, the business environment is often changing. It’s important to take a critical look at what is happening, and dig deep in what could be done to come out on top.
For a couple years I also worked at a small English conversation school in Japan. Teaching and having students was great, but the business acumen was frustrating. A few words that accurately describe the business would be antiquated, stubborn, fearful, and conventional. Try to imagine an aging business that once excelled in both its services and location. Unsurprisingly, in the two-plus decades that would follow, the surrounding business environment and demographic changed.
In what seemed to be a double whammy of both stubborn cultural norms and an unwillingness to evolve, the school began losing student enrollment to other businesses that popped up and accurately addressed the needs of local people and changing times. When there were opportunities to stand out and add excitement, fear for change and business as usual held them back. The demise was unfortunate, but easy to see coming from a kilometer away.
You have probably begun to consider and draw from your own experiences in adaptability and the good things that flow from it. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome them? How did you judo the situation to your advantage?
Keep fighting the good fight and remember the connection between intelligence and an ability to adapt in spite of the seemingly immovable challenges that lay ahead.
Lebowitz, Shana. “11 common traits of highly intelligent people.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 18 Nov. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/common-traits-of-highly-intelligent-people-2016-11.
“Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey.” Warner Home Video, 2000.