“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”Jacob A. Riis
We spent close to two days last weekend digging, weeding, sawing, raking and hauling on our wooded lot “up North.” Since we haven’t been there much this year, the task was, at first, daunting to say the least. Mother Nature definitely seemed to have the advantage, but we agreed on a realistic plan to try to make us all happy, and immediately got to work.
As time passed, we started to see progress. Paths were actually becoming visible again. Tree limbs that had fallen during the winter were cut, hauled and stacked, and some of the inaccessible areas were now open to use. By the end of the weekend we acknowledged that there was still a long way to go, but we felt really good since there was notable progress and no critical deadline.
We treated ourselves to dinner at a local restaurant we know well. Our waitress (a friend that we hadn’t seen in a while) looked quite a bit different than when we last saw her – visibly more fit and energetic. She explained that she’d been watching what she ate a bit more than before, and raised her exercise activity levels a notch – nothing drastic. She felt great about the improvements, and planned on continuing to slowly “up the ante.”
Seeing positive results can be addictive.
I recently bumped into another friend – a 30-something family guy who had kids early in life. After high school he promised himself that he’d achieve at least an undergrad degree, and he continued taking classes for over 10 years while he and his wife worked in various service jobs to support their family. He finished his undergrad program last December (3.9+ GPA) and was almost immediately offered a job with a large Tier 1 automotive supplier in a position directly related to his college major, and with excellent opportunity for growth. He never doubted his strategy, his goals or that his hard work and patience would eventually pay off.
The common denominator? Continuous improvement – achieved through consistency, perseverance, and not settling for less than what you know is possible.
(Talking about consistency is pretty funny coming from a guy who last wrote a blog post in November, no? Hey…your plumber’s faucets are probably dripping, too.)
I believe these examples apply to business as well. We sometimes remind clients – and ourselves – that we don’t have to hit a home run every single time up. That’s impossible. But if we continuously look for ways to increase awareness of, and promote, our brands – even small efforts, with high quality and close attention to detail – then our customers’ perceptions of us will continue to improve and provide positive returns.
Four straight singles, though not as exciting, are at least equal* to one home run, and generally leave people on base for additional opportunities. The big hits will likely happen at times – but you probably shouldn’t wait for them exclusively.
*To my baseball-savvy friends: I’m well aware that there are numerous possible scenarios where four straight singles would not result in a run scored (although the odds are pretty good that it would). Obviously we’re using this example to make another point. It’d be a great discussion over a beer, though, that would probably bore the heck out of most people.