It’s Time for the First Meeting

And John’s Not Sure He Can Squeeze It In

It’s Friday and John’s in his normal state of overwhelm. He’s supposed to be meeting with Gene tomorrow afternoon to go over the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system and he doesn’t know how he can fit it in.

There are still so many things that need to be done.

“Maybe we can reschedule,” thinks John, I’ll just give Gene a call and see about moving the meeting back a week. “Okay, that’s enough.” John says to himself. “The whole purpose for this meeting is to change things, so that I don’t have to feel this overwhelmed.”

I’m tired of always feeling out of control.

John pulls up in front of the XYZ Construction Company office and admires the building. As he gets the pizza out of the truck and goes up to the front door he thinks, “I sure hope I can have a place like this someday.” As he walks through the door Gene greets him with a solid handshake and a grin as he says, “I wasn’t sure that you would make it.”

“I wasn’t sure either.”, John says with a smile. “I came really close to calling yesterday, to see about rescheduling. “I’m glad you didn’t.”, replies Gene. “You’ve taken the hardest in a series of hard steps.”

“The first step is the hardest. It requires a change of thinking and direction.”

“Bring the pizza and let’s go into the conference room.” As they make their way into the spacious comfortable room John thinks back on when they used to have their weekly production meetings in this very room. Looking back, he realizes how much he had taken what Gene has accomplished for granted.

Gene hands John a plate and they both get some pizza. “There’s water and soda in the fridge like always.”, says Gene, “Help yourself.” As they set down and start eating Gene asks John, “Why did you go into construction and start your own company?”

“Why do you do what you do?”

John sat there for a while chewing his pizza at the same time chewing on this question. “Why was he doing this?” He had asked this question a lot, but it was usually a question of frustration, not really looking for an answer.

After what seemed like an eternity, John answered, “I really don’t know. I suppose that seeing what you had accomplished, I wanted the same thing.”

“That’s the same answer I would have given when I started XYZ Construction.”, agrees Gene. “It wasn’t until I realized that to have a successful and profitable business, one that I was running rather than it running me, I needed to make some changes. One of those was to answer this question.”

“The WHY is more important than the HOW. Maybe your why is to make a lot of money, the enjoyment of building, the control that comes with owning your own company, something completely different or a combination of things.”

“Do you love what you do? In your current situation, do you even like it?”

Now John has another unanswered question to ponder. “Does he like what he does. Life sure was easier when he worked for Gene. What is it that prompted him to go into business?”

Gene interrupted John’s thinking, “John you probably won’t get the full answer to these questions today and we’ve already been discussing this for a couple of hours. I would suggest that you take some time to think about these and dig down deep to find the answers.”

“The answer to these questions are the foundation you will build your business on.”

“Before we run out of time today, let’s move on to the topic you came for, Building a Better Proposal. Just like the why question for your business, you should answer the why question about proposals.”

“Why do we need to do proposals?

“John, there is a huge gap between the construction industry and customers. The biggest portion of this gap is poor communication. Even when attempting to communicate clearly it can go badly. Let me give you an example.”

“Several years ago, when meeting with a customer early in the process of building a new home. The customer pointed out that the distance from the electric meter to the house was more than the 50’ allowance, as per the agreement. He asked if this was a problem. He was told it wasn’t a problem. Guess what…”

“It was a problem.”

“The problem didn’t surface until later when the customer was billed for the additional 100’. After some research, the communication breakdown was uncovered. The customer asked, “if it was a problem”. What he really was asking was…”is it going to cost more?”.”

“The response ‘in reality’ was, “It’s no problem to dig the additional 100’, but it will cost you more.” Neither party intended nor expected this to be a problem. It was a simple matter of misunderstanding…a lack of communication.”

The bulk of the communication responsibility is the contractor’s, we are the professionals after all.

“As we wrap up today John, I would recommend that we schedule some time weekly to work through the proposal system. I know that you don’t feel like you can spare the time, but I would point out that if you want things to be different it is going to require you to do some things different.”

John thought about this for a few minutes, “I get excited about the possibilities for my future every time we talk about this. Let’s do it. How does next Saturday, same time and same place work for you?

“If I don’t commit to doing something different, nothing will change.”

Gene got a big smile and remembered when he had made this same decision. He was encouraged about John’s future and excited to be a part of it. “Remember when you called me a few weeks back and how frustrated you were? And then in the next call we discussed the possibilities for your future? Think on these things and your why as you study the pages from today. When we get together next week, I want to hear about your why and we’ll go deeper into the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system.

“As you go through them write down any questions you have, and we’ll discuss them next week.”

(or send them to me in the comments below)

What Does It Mean to Be Successful?

It’s Not What People Normally Think

Success, true success is anything but normal. Dave Ramsey says, “If You want to succeed, you’ve got to be weird.” It is hard to be different. Standing out and being different opens us up to criticism and ridicule. It’s much easier and safer to blend in and go with the flow. To just be normal.

God doesn’t want us to be normal. He made each of us different and unique (Psalm 139:14) and put each of us here for a specific purpose (Romans 8:28). It is up to us to search out and learn what our individual purpose is.

Discovering our true purpose is success.

Normally success is seen as fortune and fame. Even the definition of success includes, “The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status.” If we see these things as success and don’t accomplish them, we see ourselves as failures. We are only failures when we stop seeking our true purpose. So, we’ve got to hang in there.

The world’s idea of success is short sighted and selfish. It’s about what’s in it for me. God’s idea of success is different. It’s about using the skills and abilities I’ve been given to help others. Specifically, in my case, to help others build their dreams.

So, how do we figure out what our purpose is? First, ask that very question. What is my purpose? And then we ask it again and again… Asking the question is the first step to success. The question is more important than the answer. Asking this question is necessary to start. Then we can dig deeper with more questions. If we don’t ask questions we will stay stuck in the mundane routine of doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome.

These questions start with the most common question asked by kids…WHY.

Why am I here?

Somewhere along the way, in an effort to be normal, we quit asking why. As children we are naturally curious. If we want to be successful, we need to get back to that childlike curiosity.

The why question is where we dig down deep to find the solid foundation that our success will be built on.

After asking why, comes what, how, when, who, where. Asking these questions is hard. Almost as hard as reading the 5Ws out of their normal order. But then we are trying to be successful, not normal. The order I have them in is more appropriate when it has to do with success. The most important thing is to be intentional about asking questions in whatever order works. Asking questions opens our mind up to new ideas.

The answers to these questions won’t magically appear once they’ve been asked. Being successful and finding our purpose is not an end unto itself. Both are a process of seeking answers and should continue as long as we’re alive. There is not some point in life when we arrive at our final destination (like retirement). Success is the process of seeking our purpose and as long as we’re breathing, we should be asking questions.

DON’T BE NORMAL – BE SUCCESSFUL!