Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #5 in a Series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because that’s what matters. Often it’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

Rule #1 is “Shut the @#$%!! up.” If you missed it just point your browser HERE.

Rule #2 is “Take them to lunch.” If you missed that one point your browser HERE.

Rule #3 is “Don’t work with assholes.” If you missed #3, point your browser HERE.

Rule #4 is “Uncover the Real Problem.” If you missed #4, you’ll find it HERE.

what matters

The voice over the loudspeaker was that generic, Midwestern, slightly southern Texas drawl we’ve all grown accustomed to on airplanes.

“Okay folks,” it started, “Sorry to tell y’all this but it looks like we’ll be stuck here on the tarmac another 20 minutes or so. If I get an update from the tower I’ll be sure to let you know what’s happening.”

The woman in the center seat resumed her complaining.

“Damn it! That’s the third time they’ve delayed this flight. We’ve been sitting here what, 45 minutes already? I’m sure I’m going to miss my connection now.  I probably won’t get home in time for the party no matter what happens.”

I had no idea what party she was talking about.

I didn’t ask.

The guy sitting at the window seat glanced over her head, caught my eye, rolled his.

She droned on, “Can you believe this airline? Don’t they care about their customers? Don’t they know what matters? Don’t they know we have places to be? What’s the point of them telling us when the flight is supposed to arrive if it never leaves?!”

Her voice was getting louder and louder.

The harangue went on for another 20 minutes or so before the man sitting in the window seat had had enough.

“Ma’am,” he said with a southern drawl eerily similar to the pilot on the loudspeaker, “I’m a pilot. Let me tell you what matters to pilots about delays…”

He paused for a moment before continuing. The angry woman stared at him.

“It’s always better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground.”

He went back to his book.

Our seatmate didn’t make another peep.

Since that day I’ve been in an airplane almost every week or two. I’ve listened to people complaining about delays, complaining about high ticket prices, even complaining about a shortage of blue corn chips. I never say a word.

Truth is, I know what matters. I would much rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air than in the air wishing I was on the ground.

Or, as comedian Louis C.K. said on Conan O’Brien’s show: “Flying is the worst because people come back from flights and… act like their flight was like a cattle car in the forties in Germany… They’re like ‘it was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn’t board for twenty minutes, and then we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway for forty minutes…’”

“Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air… like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?! You’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going “oh my God! Wow!” You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky!”

So what’s my four-word rule #5? It’s simple:

Focus on What Matters.

Not only can’t you do anything about the flight taking off, but if there’s a problem with the plane or the tarmac you’re better off being on the ground anyway.

It’s the same for your brand and your business. If you understand what you do, what your client wants, and where those two things intersect, you already know where to focus your time and attention. Sure, there are other things you can busy yourself with. But just like that delayed flight, you’re better off concentrating on the things you can affect and improve instead of busying yourself worrying about things that are out of your control.

Instead, Focus on What Matters.