One of the not-so-pretty parts of human nature is that we like to throw rocks at the “big dogs” who are more successful than others.
Is it because we’re jealous and their success feels like a silent condemnation? Or maybe because we have a poverty mentality and we’re afraid they’re gobbling up too much of the pie?
Those are debates for another day. The reality remains that success seems to draw criticism from every side.
Take Apple, for example. As the world’s most valuable company, Apple gets more than its share of criticism. There are some good reasons for this, the most common one being that Apple has spent most of its energy refining existing products vs really innovating, since Steve Jobs died.
Get into any conversation with tech people, and there’s bound to be some discussion about Apple. We love to debate, discuss, and critique what the big dogs are doing.
A Look in the Mirror
What’s much harder, however, is taking a look in the mirror and asking ourselves whether WE are doing a good job innovating with the resources and skills we have. It might be easy to say that Apple is in danger of becoming a cover band version of itself, just riffing on its own past successes.
But aren’t we all capable of just imitating our own past success and continuing to churn out tired renditions of the same old songs?
The answer is “yes.” In fact, that’s what the vast majority of us do unless we take pains to change course. Perhaps it’s helpful to look at why we tend to give up on innovation. Why do we usually resort to the path of least resistance not only in business … but also in life?
That’s a big question with probably even bigger answers, but let me take a stab at it.
Most of us consume more than we create. When that happens, we operate from a place of judgment of other people’s creations and we limit ourselves by starving our artistic sensibilities.
The result is that we begin to seek ways of finding meager success instead of learning through failure. When you live from a place of judgment and are always finding fault with others, you avoid the risk of failure at any cost. After all, creating is a risky venture because you can be criticized.
But if you operate from a place of generosity and creativity, it’s much easier to take a risk because you don’t see “failure” as the final word. In fact, you don’t see “failure” at all because you reframe every failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Scripts Don’t Necessarily Help You Sell
When I was in business school at USC, a leader of Fox Filmed Entertainment at the time made a fascinating statement. He said, “Most of the time, we look for the least risky projects. We don’t make big bets often. Instead, we wait and see what is working and then we do that.”
This mentality is why you see so many sequels and comic book movies today. They already have a built-in audience. It’s a big risk, and it costs a lot of money to produce something unique and create original ideas.
Let’s put this in terms of sales. There is a temptation to create accreditation programs for everything from how to do a discovery call, how to sell against your competition, or deliver an elevator pitch for a product.
In most cases, sellers end up memorizing a script that doesn’t jive with their own style or technique. They get “certified” and are expected to use this approach or something similar in customer conversations.
The only problem with this approach is that each customer interaction is a bit different. People are individuals. Each person comes from their own unique perspective and set of needs. When salespeople rely on an overly rigid one-size-fits-all approach, it doesn’t work.
I’m not saying that all scripts are bad. They have their place, but they won’t necessarily help you sell or connect, or improvise.
This is the whole idea behind The Business Artist. We need to bring back the human element of business and sales. With the explosion of AI, it’s only going to get worse. Everybody is looking for the path of least resistance, the fast and easy way to get things done.
As Robert Frost suggested, you and I should choose the road less traveled.