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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

Get Off the Hamster Wheel

Recently I was on a trip and had one of those experiences that is funny after the fact, but not so much while it’s happening.

The plane landed in Dallas and I walked down the jetway as usual — backpack over my shoulder and carry-on rolling behind me. Nothing out of the ordinary as I have done this trip several times. When I emerged into the terminal, fear immediately engulfed me. It didn’t look like Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport… Was I in the wrong city? Did I board the wrong plane somehow?

Finally after a few seconds of panic, I sheepishly walked over to the gate agent and asked, “What city am I in?” After a brief pause, she questioningly and pitifully looked at me and answered, “Dallas.” A huge exhale and ‘thank you’ and I was on my way again…

Something became clear to me at that moment. I am in such a routine, at times, I don’t pay attention.

Running & Running & Getting Nowhere

How many of you have been in such a routine in your life or in your business that it has all become automatic? I call this the hamster wheel. You do the same things over and over, achieving the same results again and again. Once in awhile, you may get jarred out of this complacency because something happens that seems beyond your control. You lose a big account or miss an opportunity. Your sales have slipped or your expenses have skyrocketed. Maybe there is new competition or you are no longer able to meet your customers’ needs.

These are the types of things that cause businesses to stagnate or fail and they occur when management and staff go through the motions and no one is paying real attention.

This scenario is more common than you might think. In fact, among the companies and individuals I work with, it is the most common behavior we work on to change. But change is difficult, and not all are willing to do it, even when they know it is the only way to achieve the success they are after.

Smash the Hamster Wheel

In order to change your results, you must first change your thoughts, which will change your actions, which will finally change your results.

One of the first questions I ask potential clients is: What do you want to achieve through our relationship?

Most will answer one form or another of the phrase: I want to grow my business.

My follow up to that is usually: How committed are you to the growth? I want to know what they are willing to change, give up, commit to, and just in general do in order to get where they want to go.

An example of a success story is happening right now with one of my clients. The goal was to take an already highly successful real estate brokerage and propel it to a top 10 operation. (As I have said before, it is much easier to go from mediocre to good than from good to great.) We invested many hours forming a plan that entailed everything from new prospecting methods and sources to redeploying personnel to their highest and best use.

The owner was open to changing anything in the operation if it helped get to the goal, and whole heartedly followed through on those agreed-upon changes. In the last few months, the owner has quadrupled the original goal because they blew past it so quickly. Now we are working on new goals for maintaining the pace and taking advantage of all the new business.

Here’s my challenge to you: Question the processes and habits your business has today and continually try to improve.

A friend of mine told me a saying that I have used every chance I get since I heard it: Always appreciative, never satisfied…

I am so thankful for everything I have and all the opportunities I am given to affect the lives of others, but I am never satisfied. My clients will tell you that each time they reach a goal, we celebrate, but soon after we start looking for the next challenge. Another way of saying this is that if you aren’t growing, you are dying. I choose the former. There is no neutral.

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