I’m in Canada today to conduct my workshop at a spousal retreat in a cute little town called Niagara-on-the-Lake. Because I wanted to see Niagara Falls, I decided to create a couple hour window yesterday by taking the redeye flight the night before. Yes, it meant taking a painful nap in a rental car the next morning, but it was worth it. Not only did I see the breathtaking falls again, but I also was reminded of three business principles that we all can apply to our business and life.
1. Define your outcome and build a roadmap
Because of the small time window, I could only do one activity in Canada. Therefore it was critical I made a clear decision about the outcome beforehand. I chose to do the boat tour to the base of the falls. Had I not known exactly what I wanted to experience, I would have wasted precious time either researching options or being enamored with other activities (like when I saw the zip-lining course, the casinos, and marineland). Unfortunately, I see many leaders getting trapped by what I call the “shiny object syndrome” which just distracts them from the goal and wastes time.
In addition, by knowing my destination, I was able to build a clearly definedstrategy to get there. I simply programmed the address into my Waze app on my iPhone and off I went. (Note: if you’ve ever been to Toronto and experienced the complicated freeway system, you know how critical it was I had GPS and a roadmap).
So knowing my outcome allowed me to stay focused, efficient, and ensure I had a roadmap to success. Do you have this kind of clarity in all your projects?
2. Look for a more effective path.
I arrived for the boat tour right on time and just as planned, however the line to purchase tickets was brutally long. I simply couldn’t afford to wait. So, I made the decision to find a better way and departed the line. As I looked for options, I noticed a machine and investigated it. The good news was that it was a way to buy tickets via credit card…the bad news was that it didn’t work. Ugh. So I looked around more, only to see a sign informing visitors of a website to buy tickets (which strangely I hadn’t noticed before). So I took my trusty iPhone and within 4 minutes I had an email PDF of my tickets. This saved me at least 45 minutes which was critical.
The ticket experience was a great reminder to me that we see what we want to see, and what we focus on grows. When you focus on and look for more effective solutions, you’ll always find them. If you just accept the situation, you’ll never see other opportunities. Always push through the obstacles. Where are you not focusing on finding better ways to get things done or new opportunities for success?
3. Never follow the crowd.
After I bought my ticket, I walked over to the defined path to board the boats, and it was blocked because of a medical emergency. A crowd of people was waiting and getting antsy and a large queue was forming. People just kept walking over and waiting like a bunch of sheep. I knew waiting in this area with the crowd was a bad idea, because usually the sheep will lead you astray. So, I looked at this as an opportunity. If everyone is waiting here and I can find a new path, then I could leapfrog the crowd and board the boat sooner (remember I had a short window to ride the boat). So I walked over to an employee, and asked them if there was a secret way to get to the boat ramp. You guessed it, there was. I took the litle known path and within a few minutes I was on the boat and headed to the falls. Had I stood in line for tickets and stood in line at the ramp, it would have probably cost me more than half the time I had to visit the sights. It was a great reminder that following the crowd will always lead you to mediocrity, but carving a new path can lead to success.
In the end I spent the three hours at Niagara Falls and had a great time. But the only reason I achieved the success I did was because I was clear about my outcome, I looked for better ways around obstacles, and I avoided the crowds and made my own way. How might things change in your life and business if you started applying these principles?
But there’s one more thing. I also got a life lesson yesterday…a critical one. But, to share it I need to give you an important detail I left out above. The medical emergency I referenced was a man who had suffered a heart attack. I witnessed the heroic emergency responders performing CPR on him. It was a heart wrenching sight, and as I prayed for him I was reminded about the brevity of life. Here was a man who woke up yesterday excited about visiting Niagara Falls, and yet he had no idea it would be his last. The lesson is that life is a gift and we never know when today will be our last. So, go boldly live your life and go experience the things you want to experience. And everyday tell your friends and family you love them…that gift won’t cost you a thing.
Here’s to you living without limits…