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In Praise of Slackers

The last time I wrote in my blog, I wrote about complaining business owners who don’t make changes to improve their businesses.  If you don’t remember what I wrote, you can read it by clicking here.

Looking back, I was wrong about them.  I admit it!

I am now ready to embrace the complainers!  Here’s why:

My revelation on this point occurred when Alisa, our new Business Development Manager, left during the morning for a dentist appointment, but later returned a couple of hours later, resuming her regular duties.  Thinking about my own dentist appointments that are often filled with needles of Novocain shot into my gums, making it impossible for me to talk when I return to work, I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed quite functional.

So, I asked her: “How are your teeth?  Are you in pain?  Are you still OK to be at work?” But Alisa assured me she was totally fine.

She then said to me: “My dentist told me that if all his patients took care of their teeth like me, there’d be no need for her.  She’d be out of work.”  She explained that she took great care to clean and maintain her teeth after being told how important it was, and how her dentist appointments were non-eventful checkups absent of the pain I regularly came to associate with my visits.

We talked a little more and then, my light bulb moment occurred. It came to me in a flash that if everyone with teeth, brushed, flossed, and cared for them like Alisa, what a huge impact that would have on the dental industry! How would these dentist offices stay open, if all of their patients gave them nothing to do?

Let me use my dentist as an example.  I think my dentist’s office employs about 5-7 people, and I’d guess they are all pretty well paid professionals, all doing their work on people who don’t brush and floss as well as Alisa does. What if these people had no work?  For example, my dentist is a great dentist and a great guy, but I bet he doesn’t have any other marketable skills besides dentistry (maybe watch repair, with those tools he’s accumulated and his steady hand). But the rest of his staff? Not so talented.  I foresee “Will clean teeth for food” handwritten signs by the interstate.

Now, take this idea a step further. Multiply the impact if every dentist office in the country closed because everyone took care of their teeth like they should. Think of the massive unemployment problems that would result.  I bet most of these dental workers would be out on the streets, forced to selling their stash of free toothbrushes and mini toothpaste tubes. And think about that loss of revenue that previously circulated in our economy from people paying for dentures, implants, cleanings, oral surgery, x-rays…all of it gone!  What an economic downturn our country would experience, if everyone cared for their teeth like Alisa!

And that’s when it dawned on me that I’ve been looking at this the wrong way.  All those business owners who don’t attend my workshops, who don’t make their businesses unique and distinctive…these are people I should be thanking!  The owners who complain all the time and do little to help themselves while remaining stagnant, I should hug!  These owners are the ones who are maintaining the below-average business standards that allow the rest of my clients to stand out.  These owners are the people who set the low bar! These are the entrepreneurs who make it possible for any other company to look so good, by them being so bad at what they do.  These are the people whose poor service gets anchored in the minds of customers, so when my clients’ employees go just a little above and beyond the call of duty, their efforts seem Herculean.

I am the first one to admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong about the slackers.  It was wrong for me to have berated them.  The slackers, malcontents, and complaining business owners have done nothing wrong.  Granted, they haven’t done anything particularly right either, but they don’t deserve to be flogged into changing.

I’ve changed my mind!  Immobile owners like these should be praised. They should be encouraged to “Do nothing, move nowhere, change not!” Their businesses are perfect, in their most imperfect states, and the rest of the proactive business world needs them to maintain their business inertia.

So to all owners out there who are constantly working to improve yourself and your business position, do this: The next time you see one your business peers who fits this slacker/complainer description, don’t avoid them. Don’t look away. And certainly don’t berate them with those positive suggestions of change you typically heap on them. Next time, give them a hearty pat on the back and a cheery “Carry on!”

Their mediocre business is crucial to your creation of the Destination Business of your dreams. Without them, your challenges would be much more difficult.

About Jon Schallert
Jon Schallert is the only business consultant in the world teaching businesses and communities how to reinvent themselves into Consumer Destinations. He has consulted and spoken in more downtowns than anyone on the planet. Jon speaks to thousands annually on his 14-step “Destination Business” process, which he developed over the course of 30+ years interviewing over 10,000 business owners in over 500 communities. When Jon is not conducting keynotes and workshops at conferences and communities around the country, he conducts his 2½ day Destination Business BootCamps in Longmont, Colorado, and oversees his company’s online training network, Destination University (it's a free app, download it). Learn more about him at www.JonSchallert.com and about his classes at www.DestinationBootCamp.com
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