Perception, reality or something in between?

As I’m scanning through the headlines this morning I see an item about a Tumblr post that went viral. The topic? What color is this dress?  Some see it as gold and white, while others are sure it’s black and blue.
The story notes that “different people apparently perceive the dress differently.” You bet they do. And it’s not just about the color of a dress. Perception – the way we think about or understand someone or something – is very powerful.  It’s formed from our past experiences, our beliefs, our expectations, our ideas. That’s why everyone’s is different.

What does this have to do with business?  A lot!

Established author Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”  

In business, that doesn’t work. We need to see thing how they are. Misunderstanding what’s going on around us highly ups the odds that we make a wrong decision; even if that decision appears to be logical it will be based on mistaken assumptions. The consequences can be overwhelming.

How do you prevent important business decisions from taking a negative turn?  In his article, How Perception Affects Important Business Decisions, Noam Kostucki has come up with several filters that can help sort things out. When faced with important business decisions ask yourself the following questions.  “What should I do if whatever I think, the opposite is true?”  “What should I do if I don’t know what I don’t know?”

It may or may not change your perspective but it will sure give you something to think about as you work your way through finding more effective solutions for your business.

Posted by MJ Thomas

The World According to Plan B

Jump in the car this morning to head off to work and notice the glaring number on my dashboard – minus twelve degrees. By the time my car can really generate any heat I no longer have feeling in my fingers and toes. Tomorrow it's supposed to reach 30. Typical Ohio winter; it changes in the blink of an eye. It got me to thinking about how quickly things change. How things are smooth sailing one minute and the next minute you’re bouncing around on stormy seas.

Transition is a part of life. It forces us to change, to try new things and to grow. Sometimes it’s so subtle we may not even notice it. Other times it lands a knock-out punch. In that case, we have two choices: stay down for the count or get up, brush ourselves off and move on. Plan B.

Does your business have one? Or are you just keeping your fingers crossed that Plan A will see you through? When Plan A doesn’t go as well as planned, what’s your fall back plan? Suppose your best customer decides to leave you for another company. What if economic changes derail Plan A? Suppose your biggest supplier goes out of business. Are you ready to move forward or will your business come to a screeching halt?

Change is disrupting and depending on your level of preparedness, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. Being prepared can make the difference between success and failure; being flexible or being stuck.

What’s your Plan B?

Posted by MJ Thomas


Progress always involves risk

My grandpa used to always say, “The only people who make no mistakes are people who do nothing.” There are most certainly a lot of others who have said that, but I like to think it was his – just another tidbit of wisdom he passed on to all of his grandchildren.  Over the years, I’ve used it as a battle cry when uncertainty in my ability to do something new rears its ugly head; when my fear of taking a risk shut down my sense of adventure.

It hasn’t always worked. And the times it didn’t – when fear of failure got the best of me - an opportunity to learn, to grow and to move forward was lost. That fear of taking a risk to avoid failure meant that I also eliminated the possibility of success.

The same goes for risk in business. Do you play it safe or are you willing to jump off the porch to run with the big dogs? Are new ideas, programs or new ways of doing things met with what ifs, the yeah buts, we’ve never done it that way before or the famous eye roll?

Let’s be honest. Some things deserve that response. However, if you foster a culture of “we’ve done it this way for 20 years”, it’s likely that your business won’t be moving forward anytime soon. Creativity and out of the box thinking; things that help you move forward won’t be part of your equation because your employees won’t want to take the chance. And that fear of risk taking causes indecisiveness; indecisiveness leads to lack of action; lack of action won’t lead to success.

This quote from Michael Jordan pretty much sums it up. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again. And that’s why I succeed.”

Just saying.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Are “Random Acts of Kindness” a thing of the past?

Random Acts of Kindness. Remember those? One of my co-workers and I each had an experience today that left us asking that question.

Here’s what happened.  This past week has been a shining example of winter in our area – heavy snow accumulations, high winds and frigid temperatures.  This kind of weather brings with it a pretty obvious set of challenges including icy and snow covered roads, shoveling out from mounds of snow, malfunctioning autos; well you get the drift.

After surveying my driveway this morning, I determined that the snow accumulation wasn’t too bad. So rather than shovel, I would give it the old “gun it and run it”. Bad decision.  Really bad decision. Got stuck and had to shovel out anyway.  As I am working my way down the driveway, I notice my neighbor struggling to get her vehicle “unstuck” from the perilous spot it is lodged in – at the end of the driveway with the back end sticking out into the street.  Between the two of us, we couldn’t get that car to budge. Not an unusual scene under the circumstances. What really bothered me though was that there were no less than six cars that went past, watching us struggle; two of them in fact were young gentlemen in trucks. Looked at us and drove on by.

My co-worker was on her way back from lunch when she spotted an elderly lady fall to the ground, on all fours trying to get up. Same scenario; people passing by, staring and not one offering to help.  Thank goodness my co-worker sprang to action, turned her car around, stopped and assisted the woman back to her feet and made sure she was okay before leaving.

So here’s my question. What causes people to NOT help others who are clearly in need of assistance?  Is it fear, apathy, not wanting to get involved? Are we too busy, too tired or have we forgotten all the times that others helped us? Have we thought about where we might be if others hadn’t stopped to help us when we clearly needed it? Just throwing it out there for something to think about.

From my perspective, I think this quote I found pretty much sums it up.

 “I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles de Lint

How about you?

Posted by MJ Thomas