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Are Our Beliefs Stunting Our Businesses?

“For my whole life, I was led to believe that we were the richest country on earth. Now, I see that we are the poorest. It’s like my whole life has been wasted.”

This comment comes from John, the 80-year old father of one of our Albanian foster children, who was visiting the USA and our home for the first time in his life. He had lived his whole life under the communist government of Albania – one of the most oppressive in the world — and was now venturing out of the country for the first time. We couldn’t help but feel for him. He had been led to believe a lie, and that belief shaped his actions and his attitudes and organized his life. Now, at an age where there was little to be done about it, he regretted his life lived in accordance with a belief that turned out to be false.

While not nearly as poignant and heartbreaking as John’s experience, we all allow the same thing – false beliefs – to impact our thinking and therefore, our businesses and our lives.

For the past 30 years, I have served as a sales consultant, trainer, and speaker. I have worked with at least 459 businesses and served thousands of others in seminars and speaking engagements. In all of this experience in the trenches, I’ve made some observations about what it takes to build a successful, thriving business – and what hinders the growth of those businesses who have the potential for great things but languish in mediocrity.

The world is full of businesses who have the potential to become more – make more money, influence more people, do more good, impact more lives – but never do. They remain stunted in their growth. The cause is not the lack of good people, effective systems or sufficient capital – all these are symptoms of a deeper problem. The cause is the set of false beliefs held by the folks at the top. They believe something about their business that hinders their thinking, shapes their attitudes, impacts their emotions, and ultimately leads to actions that stunt the growth of the business.

False belief: Business is just about making money.

There are a number of commonly-held, powerful beliefs that stunt the growth of businesses. Here’s just one: Business is just about making money.

The most powerful false ideas have a bit of truth within them. This one does too. It is true that business is about making money. But, it is not JUST about making money. In my research for The Good Book on Business, I uncovered a number of powerful functions of a business. Here’s a small sample of some of the elements of a successful business – that which I call a Biblical business in the book. Among other things, a successful business:

  • Develops people and helps individuals grow
  • Provides economic security to all its stakeholders and employees.
  • Provides a sense of community and security for its employees.
  • Blesses the communities in which it operates
  • Raises up a new generation of leaders.

When a business — led by its owners and executives — focuses just on making money, they naturally neglect the other components of a successful business. Why would you spend money on training and developing your people, for example, when you see the money that it takes to do that as a cost, not an investment? Why would you organize a community outreach when you can’t put a dollar figure on the return on investment for that effort? Why would you invest in raising up a new generation of leaders when you are concerned with the quarterly P&L?

Consequences       

The simple act of focusing on one thing leads us to neglect other things. Those businesses who just focus on making money neglect other things which are just as important. This is particularly poignant when the thing that we focus on is fueled by a false belief. Sooner or later it catches up with us.

Here’s what happens. For a while, the business grows and revenues increase. Life is good, and the company makes money. But then, things get difficult. What typically happens is some combination of this menu of success-stunters

  • Key employees leave. This stunts the growth of the business and causes the head to invest more time in finding replacements.
  • Key customers leave. Another growth-stopper.
  • There is turmoil in the ranks. Employees begin taking shortcuts; errors increase, absenteeism grows.
  • A key employee leaves to create a competitive business, taking people and/or customers with him.
  • Competition increases. New players come into the market, depressing market share and margins.

From the perspective of the business owner who is hindered by the false belief, these are all unrelated events that occur due to misfortune. From my perspective, these are not unrelated, but rather the inevitable consequences of a false belief expressed in the actions and attitudes of the owners and executives.

Money-driven businesses eventually implode over time. They inevitably plateau, and often shrink. Their growth is stunted, and they never achieve the heights to which they could have.   The root cause is not fate or misfortunate, but the false beliefs of the principals.

What to do?

If you find yourself influenced by this false belief, you must change it. One of the greatest principles of self-improvement is this: Your thoughts dictate your actions and your attitudes, and you can change your thoughts.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, said this:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,       but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

                                                      Romans 12:2 

To change your thinking, change the input. Poor John, my Albanian friend, lived a life where all the input he received was deceitful propaganda by a manipulative, malevolent government. He never had a chance to see things differently.

Surround yourself with business people who have a broader view of business. Interact with folks who think differently. Expose yourself to writers and thinkers who hold a wider view. The Good Book on Business is a great starting point. Follow people on social media who espouse a more holistic view of business. Read the blogs, review the articles, listen to the podcasts.

As you expose yourself to a different set of influencers, you’ll find that you begin to think differently. And when you think differently, those thoughts will influence your attitudes and actions. You’ll begin to see your business differently, and you’ll gradually unleash it from the ideas that hinder it and stunt its growth. You’ll avoid the end-of-life lament that John shared. You won’t say, “My whole life has been wasted.”

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Dave Kahle
Dave Kahlehttp://www.davekahle.com/wordpressblogs/dave-kahle/
YOUR business can be much more than just a money-making enterprise. Helping you achieve that potential is Dave Kahle’s passion. He has been helping business grow for 30 years. The author of The Good Book on Business, he’s written 12 other books, which have been published in eight languages and distributed around the world, and has presented in 47 states and 11 countries. He has personally and contractually worked with over 459 companies, and touched thousands of others through his seminars, speaking engagements, and webinars. You’ll find him challenging your paradigms and prompting you to think more deeply.

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CONVERSATIONS

  1. The Most Influential Consumers Online are on Twitter

    Twitter is a human seismograph and it represents a transformative
    channel where everyday people possess the ability to affect actions.
    The cloud of collective consciousness that houses our thoughts,
    experiences, and conversations is also a data trove for experts to
    measure and mine serendipitous and organized behavior and events.

    It brings together disparately connected personalities linked through
    friendship, admiration, education, and context. Here individuals align
    around people they know, would like to know, and bound by the topics,
    themes, and connections that attract them. This highly contextualized
    network, or as Twitter refers to it, an Interest Graph, offers
    individuals an organized, indexable, and searchable stream where they
    express sentiment, share observations and information, and also
    directly and indirectly communicate with one another.

    For marketers, Twitter represents so much more than a real-time focus
    group. While the activity of its users is available for interpretation
    and analysis, the information contained in certain tweets published by
    notable individuals possess the capacity to influence agendas and
    resulting activities. And even in aggregate, everyday users define the
    direction of the stream and ultimately impact the subjects of their
    conversations.

    Any organization impacted by outside activity must dedicate focus and
    resources to monitoring and analyzing activity, the extent to which it
    shapes perception today, and how to share and steer activity to
    benefit stakeholders online and in the real world.

    A recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet surveyed 1,500 consumers to
    identify top motivations for following brands on Twitter. As a result,
    we can glean insight into the expectations of elusive and prized
    consumers when interacting with brands online.

    The ExactTarget and CoTweet study reveals an important part of the
    social ecosystem that demonstrates why businesses need to consider not
    just a 360 approach, but a socialized approach.The social consumer is
    vocal and they’re connected. Considering now that audiences are
    shifting from content consumers to curators and creators, our market
    is now defined by audiences with audiences with audiences. Individuals
    maintain active and expanding social graphs and as they grow, the
    network effect only escalates.

    In April 2010, Performics and ROI Research found that 33% of Twitter
    users share opinions about companies or products at least once per
    week.

    Wait. What?

    – 33% talk brands 1x per week

    – 32% make recommendations

    – 30% seek advice

    Among other interesting stats, 20% of consumers follow a brand in
    order to interact with the company, which is much greater than those
    who subscribe to email newsletters or those who “like” brands on
    Facebook in order to remain connected. In fact, nine out of the ten
    stated that the most common reasons to follow a brand on Twitter
    involved the ability to obtain direct information from a company.

    In other studies, upwards of 80% of Twitter users stated that for
    those deserving brands, following equated to referrals. Of those who
    followed brands, 51% did so because they were an existing customer and
    44%expected discounts or promotions.

    One of the more interesting data points to emerge was that men were
    more than twice as likely than women to follow brands on Twitter, 29%
    compared to 13%. This stat requires deeper analysis as it, on the
    surface, rivals two primary research pillars in my current work, 1)
    More women than men account for the overall

    If you were to take one thing away from this research, it’s
    this…Twitter users are the most influential social consumers online
    today. This revelation is constant across many published research
    reports. Not only are they influential, they put their money where
    their Tweet is.

    While money doesn’t grow on trees, it does however, grow on Tweets

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