It takes patience and perseverance to succeed, and 2017 is our year!
It’s a new year, 2017!  I’ve also been told that 2017 is going to be a great year for our business.  OK.  I accept that prediction!  Yet, I am aware that it won’t happen without effort.

A Chinese bamboo plant that grows nearly three feet per day to 180 feet does not break the ground until its root system is firm. If you did not know this, you would be concerned that nothing was happening during the 4 years its root system was preparing for the explosive growth.  In year five, it breaks through the ground and grows in an amazing fashion.  The lesson here is that it prepared for four years!  In life as in nature, we have to prepare as well.  There are no shortcuts.  We have to work through the process.  One might say that we have to ‘earn’ the right to be a winner.  It takes sweat and tears to become the best.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 repetitions doing something until one can be expert.  That’s why athletes train years before they can excel.  The best ones have trained more than the lesser ones.  It’s about muscle memory, not knowledge.  Knowing only allows you to understand the mechanics or what it takes to be the best.  Having your body act fluidly requires your body to know what to do without your thinking.  It is more about reacting instinctively to the circumstance, not conscientiously responding to it.  In fact, if you think about what you are doing in the middle of a sprint or paddling to the finish line, your energy is diverted to thinking and not to your arms and legs and you lose power.  I know!  I paddle competitively on a dragon boat team and I have run track.  When I started to think when I began my sprint to the finish line, I can feel my power drop off!  I have paddled 8 years on a dragon boat team.  Counting races and practices, I have conservatively exceeded 150,000 strokes with a paddle.  I can now paddle without thinking about it!  I’m good with a paddle!  I started golf lessons this year and know that until I put in the practice and increase the number of swings, I’m not going to be consistent.  I’ve got to put in more time on the practice range and on the course to get to 10,000 swings.  That’s a bunch but look out, I’m gaining!

From a business consulting perspective, what does this mean?  I believe it means that one needs years of practice to be confident in dealing with any challenge the customer sets before you.  Not arrogance, but a calm, rational response, even if it is to say, “I don’t know but will ask about it” in a way to give comfort and confidence to the customer.  The customer really wants a solution, but more importantly, wants someone who becomes a partner in their need to find a solution.  Rather than gaining expertise by your own trials and errors and mistakes, you can accelerate your goal toward excellence by studying and following others.  In consulting, it’s about building your mental muscles.  You will know you have arrived when you can confidently say, “There isn’t a problem I cannot solve!”  My technology-focused son said to me when still a teenager, “I can make the computer do whatever I want!”  And he can.  He and two partners have a growing technology company.

With two partners, we started a new company that is exciting, but not flush with business yet. This means we have to have patience and be diligent in practicing to become great!  We have to learn the ropes.  We have to put in the work.  We have to be willing to invest our time, talents, and resources.  We have to build our mental muscles through the aches and pains and the frustrations to succeed.  If we keep at it, we will be great!

©Dr. Baldwin H Tom, FIMC

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