In Versus On

A great mentor once told me:  “You have to spend as much time working ON the business as you do IN the business in order to be successful.”  It was a rule of his 30 years ago, but today it should be considered a law.

“In” the business is where most people, especially those running successful ones, tend to reside.  They go to the office day-in/day-out doing the same things because the systems they have mastered continue providing the desired results.  The down side of this behavior is comfort and satisfaction.  A false sense of security is a very dangerous state of mind.  Just because their world is moving forward doesn’t mean the rest of the world has stopped.  In fact, it’s the opposite:  The rest of the world is moving infinitely faster.  Unless they take a step back and look up from their systems, they may get swallowed up.  Working “on” the business is that step back.

Before the Information Age, “on” the business meant an annual off-site planning retreat with blackboards and notepads.  Now it means daily social media reviews, blog posts, Google searches, and competitor updates.  But even those activities aren’t enough.  Being successful today means being two steps ahead, not just running at the same pace. Unless you train your brain on some new and improved systems, this world will swallow you whole.