How Getting Ahead Can Put You Behind

Today’s post is a guest blog from my good friend and naming/branding consultant, Phillip Davis.

I hear it in business everyday, though couched in different terms and expressions, the essence is the same, “We need to do more.” That “more” may be in the form of more sales, more profit, more growth, more stores, but the common denominator is the ever-present, ever-nagging need for “more.” The inference is that the “more” will bring some sort of relief, some respite from the present miseries being afflicted upon us by uncontrollable outside influences. The great fix that’s missing is right there, right in front of our noses, in the form of that elusive little “more.” “If we just could accomplish a little more,” the thinking goes, “our problems would be solved.”

And so the lie goes undetected and the suffering continues.

It continues because the thinking itself is the culprit. In the quest to satisfy the insatiable false promise of “more,” we begin to tune out every other voice in our lives. We tune out employees, customers, family members and eventually our very selves. The need to achieve more by doing more becomes our primary taskmaster. And a harsh taskmaster it is.

This approach to business (and life in general) doesn’t work well because it assumes we live in a linear world. It’s the same logic that says, “If a little is good, then a lot is better!” And so we become fixated on arbitrary “goals” to the point where we are unresponsive to what is actually taking place around us. This thinking produces inflexibility and a sort of business rigor mortis sets in. It projects past successes into the future and assumes the best path to take is the one directly in front of us. So we continue doing the same things hoping to achieve the same, or better, results. Instead we often face frustration and diminishing returns.

A more balanced approached would be to take a present minded, 360-degree view of life. In place of pressing forward, it might make sense to take a right turn or to stop all together. The captains of the railroad industry made the mistake of thinking that they were in the train business. This caused them to put their efforts in building more and more tracks and building more and more engines. What they were really providing their customers was mobility, so they missed out on opportunities to evolve into the automotive and aerospace industries. The tyranny of pressing forward, gaining share and increasing sales left them blind to emerging opportunities happening all around them.

Apple could have stubbornly stuck with being a computer company. Instead they have adapted to become a music, entertainment and digital lifestyle provider. Imagine if their focus had merely been to achieve “x” percent increase a year in computer sales. It would have been a disaster. The ability to listen, integrate and adapt to emerging trends keeps us and our businesses relevant, grounded and connected to our customers. It really amounts to a shift in attitude from one of gaining to one of serving. And the paradox is that the more we serve the needs of those around us, the more we become indispensable to those we serve.

So perhaps the best thing you could do right now for yourself and for your business is to simply stop. Stop doing, acquiring, gaining, amassing and protecting and for a moment just listen. You may find a quieter, more intuitive voice that is gently nudging you in some new, unfamiliar direction. And it’s the brave souls that can quiet the busy mind and tune into this type of navigation that discover new ideas, energy and direction. And in the end you may find something more powerful than the sense of achievement. You might discover the deep satisfaction of serving and responding to life itself.

As president of Tungsten Branding, Phillip Davis heads a team of branding consultants, specializing in company name development and strategic branding. To further support his clients, Phil also formed Tungsten Wired, a social media marketing agency, both based in Brevard, N.C. Website:

About Marnie Pehrson

Marnie Pehrson is a best-selling author and marketing and social media consultant specializing in digital content creation and Facebook Ad Management. Get a FREE 20-minute strategy session with Marnie here.