Growth starts from where you are

There’s a old zen koan (story) of a wealthy man who wanted to build a new house. He wanted a third-floor dwelling so he could look out over his land and marvel at the beautiful landscape for many miles around, and more importantly, because the higher one lived, the higher one’s status.

And so he contracted a team of very skilled builders to build his beautiful home. Being a busy man himself, he then left them to do what it was he was paying them to do and set off on his business travels. Upon his return several weeks later, he decided to see how they had progressed.

To his horror, he found that they had only started on the ground floor. “Why have you not begun work on the top floor?” he cried. There could be no status living on the ground floor, only the third floor.

The builders, of course, explained to the wealthy man that they must start at the bottom before they could begin to move up to the next floor and ultimately, the top floor. But he wasn’t happy because he didn’t want the other floors, he only wanted and desired the third floor. The others were not needed.

Many business owners are like that. They set out with massive visions and write enormous BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and get miffed if they don’t happen fast enough. They have in place three-year business growth plans which they want completed in two years. They have annual budgets which they want to achieve within nine months. They want to jump straight to the endgame.

Yes, having a vision is vital because otherwise how do you know where you are going? Having goals are vital because they make your vision a reality. Without either business doesn’t grow. But business growth takes time. Meeting budgets take time. Developing your people takes time. In order to get to your endgame, whatever your vision and whatever your goals are, you need to work meticulously on getting every stage right and complete before you move onto the next. You need to start where you are.

If the wealthy man in the story already had a two-story home then we could have jumped straight to building the third floor. But he didn’t so he had to start where he was, at the foundations.

Like the top floor, your business will only be solid, secure and lasting if you take the time to build everything correctly on the way up.

Nigel Collin, Business Coach and Author of “Game of Inches”

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