Re-printed with the permission of Chuck Blakeman.
Eat Dirt. Be Strong.
I walked into the bread shop and there it was – a Purell hand sanitizer dispenser on a pedestal right in the middle of my path; not up against a wall somewhere, but standing like a security guard five feet inside the entrance, loudly reminding me that life is full to the brim of things that just might go wrong. Dodging that sad monument to the sterile life I realized it was symbolic of so many things that keep us from being successful.
Hand sanitizers may kill your germs, but the hand-sanitizer mindset is a deadly germ-ridden disease for business owners.
The hand-sanitizer mindset is so logical. Why wouldn’t you want clean hands? Are you looking for trouble? Do you want to invite sickness? Shouldn’t a business owner have the same safe, secure view of their business? Wouldn’t you want a business that is all cleaned up, sterilized from potential trouble and running without risk of sickness?
Two big problems with this mindset:
When you focus all your energy on mitigating risk, you also remove the opportunity for reward.
When you focus all your energy on mitigating risk, you can never remove it – it’s still there in spades.
Outside of winning the lottery, which has the same odds as getting hit by lightning, great reward doesn’t come without being willing to take a risk. Living without risk means living without significant reward. The desire to live without the possibility that bad things could happen ensures that nothing much of significance will happen either. Living without risk condemns us to the great unwashed “middle”where nothing remarkable happens.
You can’t – that’s the sad truth. People who live focused on removing risk, never do. A friend of mine told of good friends of his who were looking for the safest place in the world to retire to in 1980. After a year of research, in 1981 they moved from the U.S. to a bucolic set of islands. Six months later war broke out all around them and 1,000 people died in the Falkland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain.
No matter how much you sanitize your life and business, you can’t completely remove risk, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. I know someone who used skin sanitizers to remove risk so much that it affected their immune system. The only cure was to go cold turkey for many months with no sanitizers at all so the good germs (reward) could grow again.
The hand-sanitizer mindset in business has at least the following negative results, along with some you’ll come up with on your own:
A hand-sanitizer mindset:
Kills the good germs (reward) as well as the bad (risk). When we remove risk, we also remove reward.
Reminds us to live defensively and reactively, not proactively and with forward movement.
Dries things up – destroys the creative, innovative part of us.
Creates co-dependency. When the good germs are gone, the need for the sanitizer continues to increase all the time.
Sanitized living creates victims, not strong fighters.
There is an epidemic of allergies among young children. A 10 year study found that one of the biggest causes was that we were keeping our kids too clean, keeping them from confronting risk and developing the strong immune systems that would allow them to function in a healthy way in the world around them.
Our kids need to eat dirt in order to become strong! Your business is no different. If you’re business is set up to run without risk, you’re going to experience a 40 year run on the treadmill with no chance of building a strong, healthy business that runs without you.
The irony of it all – you’re the Purell sanitizer that keeps your business from growing up healthy!
Why do we crave the Purell approach in business? Because the bankrupt Industrial Age mindset we’re all suffering from taught us that the highest values in life were safety and security. Achieving safety and security as the OBJECTIVE ensures we will achieve nothing remarkable. The highest values in your life should be to live a life of significance, to be the creative business owner you were meant to be and be fully committed to building a business in support of your Ideal Lifestyle. You won’t get that without risk.
Eat Dirt. Be Strong.