In 2002, I bought my first house in St. Peters, Missouri. The home had been previously owned by a landscape architect, so you could imagine how amazing my backyard was! I probably had the greenest, lushest lawn in the neighborhood. It was like a mini-sanctuary, and I had a cool bird-feeder that was “squirrel-proof”—yeah right! I used to chase squirrels away, yell at them, throw things, etc. It was a little out of control! I remember going to the hardware store and bitching to the old guy, Bob, that worked in the landscape section about my war on the neighborhood squirrels.
The words he told me have stuck with me to this day, and not for the reason you might think. He asked me what I did, and I told him I was a project manager in the construction industry. He wanted to know how involved it was: how much thinking, time, energy, and so on. After I explained it all, he asked me how much time I spent each day thinking of ways to keep the squirrels out of my bird feeders. It was laughable, even though it was probably more than I should have been spending, still way less than an hour a day.
He told me, “That damn squirrel thinks about your bird seed and bird feeder from the time it wakes up until the time it goes to sleep. It’s sole desire is to get the seed inside your feeder. Nothing you can do can keep that critter out of your feeder when it’s got determination like that!”
Old man Bob was right!
The lesson applies to us all though! When you are laser-focused on your task and what you want to accomplish, you are unstoppable!
My puppy, Bailey, (well, he used to be a puppy!) on the other hand is anything but laser-focused. He chases and gets distracted by anything that makes noise or moves. Most entrepreneurs are more like puppies, and need to be more like squirrels.
Anyone who has identified with the entrepreneurial personality type will know what you’re talking about when you bring up “shiny object syndrome.” As we hustle and grind and attempt to identify our niche and target market, every great opportunity that comes along catches our eye. It’s super easy to start stuff; it’s hard to finish. It’s amazing how easy and fun a new project or endeavor can be. Getting something to 90 percent is quite easy! It’s hard to close, though, and no one likes the follow-up or the follow-through. That last 10 percent is a bitch! So, it’s easier to switch gears than it is to seal the deal.
Most of the entrepreneurs I know (and sometimes myself included) are just like the puppy I described. Chasing after every shiny penny that comes across our path. The squirrel knows where it’s at though. Laser-focused on the prize, fighting non-stop until they have reached their goal.
You want to grow and succeed in business? Be a squirrel, not a puppy! Keep your eye on the prize and grind it out. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a very short period of time when you are laser-focused.
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