“Then you will know the truth, and the
truth shall set you free.” John 8:32 NIV
We have absolutely no reason not to be truthful with ourselves about the state of the business and the market. Our interests are best served by understanding that which can make us smarter and better, right?
It is human nature to interpret things in a favorable light when we are personally invested. Ever hear a soccer mom bragging about Johnny’s talent and wonder if she is talking about the same kid that loves following the butterflies more than the ball? After raising two college athletes I am convinced that most sports parents believe their budding athletes are at least one-third better than they are, including me.
Research has shown in study after study, when we have a stake in something, we imbue it with our intentions. We see things through rose-colored glasses more than we would like to admit. We know how hard we and our colleagues have worked, we know the struggles we faced, we know we are good people with good hearts so we give ourselves a thumbs up—no matter what the results.
Blockbuster was convinced they had more time to regroup but with Netflix nipping at their heels, they had to say “uncle” and declare bankruptcy. What would have happened if they acknowledged earlier how fast the market was changing?
What if your business is on a path to be a buggy whip?
I can tell you from my equestrian years, there are still buggy whips sold, but it is not a mass market. Today, does your industry face that same challenge? Is technology or shifting values challenging your current business model?
Interestingly enough, considering the age of the average business today (According to US Census data, most businesses need to be seriously evaluating their current model to see if it stands the test of today’s market preferences and capabilities. Are you behind the curve? If so, don’t wait until it is too late to admit it and address it.
Be willing to accept the truth as told by the market facts—who is growing, who is not, what customers are buying, what customers are complaining about, which products are experiencing sales declines or margin squeezes, and which competitors are making inroads.
How about your company’s results? Are you improving across the board or struggling to make forecast and progress on projects?
While being able to accept the truth can be painful, it is important to remember that it is the foundation of breakthrough growth and allows us to focus in on what the market needs. By understanding what is great, and what isn’t, we can build on our strengths and begin to identify what must change. Rethinking what is working and what isn’t is tough—but a necessary foundation of accelerated growth.