Our lesson on Peaks and Valleys discussed the notion of trying to make the valleys temporary by attempting to continuously reach for higher peaks, by learning and reinventing your skills, abilities, systems and processes throughout your life. The process of reinvention is never an easy one if you have a tendency, like most adults in our species, to fall into comfort zones. Going the extra mile every day for yourself, your family, friends or clients takes lots of energy, effort, and most of all the will to serve the needs of yourself and others better today than you did yesterday. However by reinventing your skills and going the extra mile every day, you will place yourself into an elite class of individuals, who will reap the fruits of their labor at exponential levels in comparison to those that reside in a comfort zone.
The key to reinventing your skills and abilities is to understand that throughout your ENTIRE LIFE, you need to compare yourself to a fresh cut of fish. If you think that sounds ridiculous, let's examine my analogy. How old would you like your fish to be when you sit down to eat at a gourmet restaurant with a friend or relative? My guess is you would be happier eating a slice of fresh fish that was caught on the same day, verses one that was caught and sat around for a week or two in a refrigerator. My point here is that freshness counts when eating food; being old and stale can be quite repulsive at times. The same holds true for ideas, skills, technologies, systems and processes. This notion is not to say that wisdom from years of experience doesn't have value. There's tremendous value in wisdom. However, if you had a choice to be operated on by one of two highly skilled surgeons - and one used the latest laser technologies to make a one inch incision and worked with microscopic equipment, and the other made a 10 inch incision using scalpels and his bifocals, which surgeon would you choose? The first surgeon reinvented his skills and his procedure causes less bleeding, less risk, and a quicker and less painful recovery. The second surgeon resisted change and is doing the surgery the same exact way he has performed it for the last fifteen years. Again, which surgeon would you prefer?
Let's use a business analogy next. Apple Computer was started around 1976 and was quite successful in the early days of personal computers. They had the early advantage opportunity to become the most successful personal computer maker in history. However some miscalculating decisions led IBM and subsequently the makers of Windows based computers to literally knock them out of a leadership position until the present, nearly thirty years later. IBM, then King of PC's, had their own opportunity to reign over one of the fastest growing businesses of the 20th century. Their own miscalculations and complacency enabled companies like Compaq and then Dell to knock their legs out from under them. These thrones of leadership were given up to more innovative and less complacent companies. Today Dell reigns over all these companies as the King of PC's. It's a story that can only happen in America, where a college student name Michael Dell, with a few bucks in his pocket upended IBM, one of the most powerful companies in the world during the 20th century. And he started out in his dorm room; not a multi-billion dollar facility. Because of INNOVATION and reinvention, the PC business model was revolutionized by this kid named Michael!
Here we are, a couple decades later, and the giant IBM is getting out of the PC business by selling it to a Chinese company, while Michael Dell is on the heals of catching IBM in total revenue in the next decade. Just amazing! And that old pioneer named Apple, who has gone through many peaks and valleys since its introduction of the Apple 1, has reinvented itself as a company, with its mega-successful i-Pod and i-Tunes that is the equivalent to a tsunami in the consumer electronics space. Most companies like Apple, who have been in business for nearly thirty years, will likely find their early founders such as Steve Jobs laying on a beach collecting their dividends and soaking up the sunshine. Instead Steve Jobs is reinventing himself, Apple and Pixar into the super success stories of the 21st century. They keep reaching a new apex in their Peaks and Valleys Growth Charts each month. Neither Jobs nor his companies are lying around in a comfort zone. They are innovating and reinventing and serving the needs of others with ideas and products as fresh as that piece of fish we spoke of previously. This practical example is one that should be reviewed and discussed with your employees if you are a company leader or with your kids if you are a parent. You need to influence those around you to stay fresh and exciting throughout their lives and serve others better today than you did yesterday.
And the next time you think you know it all, done it all and don't need to improve, innovate and reinvent your skills think of Mighty Big Blue. They knew it all and had it all and were upended by a kid in a dorm room!