Socrates on the Dangers of Busyness
“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates
I came across a story that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used to tell about a time when there was a wave of petty crimes going on in the Soviet Union.
And I believe this story reveals a problem that many business owners have and they don’t even realize it.
Let me tell you the story and then I’ll explain what I mean.
The Obvious Theft That No One Saw
Khrushchev said that in order to stop the wave of petty theft, the authorities took extreme measures.
They put up guards around all of their factories.
And this is where the story gets interesting…
You see, at one factories that produced wooden structures in Leningrad, the guard there knew the workers in the factory really well.
On the first evening that he was there, out came Pyotr Petrovich with a wheelbarrow and on the wheelbarrow was a great bulky sack with a strange looking object inside.
When the guard saw it, he became suspicious.
So he stopped Petrovich and said, “All right, Petrovich, what have you got there?”
But Petrovich calmly answered, “Oh, just sawdust and shavings.”
The guard knew Petrovich and didn’t believe him, so he replied. “Come on, I wasn’t born yesterday. Tip it out.”
Petrovich obeyed the command and emptied out the bulky sack.
To the guard’s surprised, out came nothing but sawdust and shavings.
So the guard’s only choice was to allow him to put it all back in and go home.
The most frustrating thing to the guard was that this same thing happened every night of the week!
But finally, his curiosity overcame his frustration and he had to ask.
So one night the guard stopped Petrovich and said, “I know you. Tell me what you’re smuggling out of here, and I’ll let you go.”
And to his surprise and astonishment, Petrovich said, “Wheelbarrows, my friend, wheelbarrows.”
Because of the distractions of the sawdust and shavings, the guard totally missed what was really being robbed from the factory!
And that leads me to some crimes that business owners are being distracted from seeing.
The Crimes That Many Business Owners Are Unaware Of
Many business owners are so busy and distracted that they don’t see what they’re being robbed of daily.
But the kind of thefts I’m talking about aren’t the ones that you might expect.
Many business owners are being robbed of things such as:
- Personal growth
Now let me be clear. No one is robbing these things from these business owners. They are robbing themselves.
What do I mean? Here’s how they’re robbing themselves:
- Time – Because they’re so distracted by the work of running their business, they never take time to figure out how to become more efficient, or delegate, or come up with better methods of doing all that their work requires.
- Relationships – Because they’re so overwhelmed by all they have to do, they are distracted from the type of relationships they could (and should) have with their friends and family members.
- Personal growth – Because so much of their time is focused on their business, they are distracted and don’t realize how the absence of their own personal growth is hindering them in life.
- Money – Not necessarily from being robbed by customers or employees, but from not being able to discover ways to increase or maximize their profits – because, again, they’re too distracted by their daily work.
In a great book called, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber says something really powerful about this problem…
“Once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life, you can then go to work ON your business, rather than IN it, with a full understanding of why it is absolutely necessary for you to do so.”
Pay very close attention to those two prepositions “on” and “in”, because they lead to the only hope business owners have to stop robbing themselves.
Not only that. but those prepositions are the key to the secret that successful business owners know.
Working IN Your Business vs. Working ON Your Business
There is a big difference between working IN your business and working ON your business.
- When you work IN your business, you are doing all of the day-to-day things that need to be done in order to keep your business running and enable it to provide the products and/or services you sell.
- When you work ON your business, you are doing all of the strategizing, planning, systematizing, and creating of the things that will help your business to run more efficiently and grow.
If you’re a business owner and you don’t begin working more ON your business than IN your business, then the odds are very small that your business is ever going to grow, that you’ll ever have more time, better relationships, etc.
Michael Gerber gives this warning about working hard...
Gerber says, “Small business-owners work far more than they should for the return they get. The problem is not that they don’t work; the problem is that they’re doing the wrong work.”
Did you catch that?
He said that the problem isn’t just that business owners are working hard, but it’s the wrong kind of work.
And so they continue to be distracted while they continue to be robbed – by their own actions.
If this describes you and you’re ready to stop the robberies, then stay tuned.
Because I will be offering something that will help business owners to begin doing the right kind of work – the kind of work that helps you to work ON their business.
NOTE: If you want to be contacted when I post the information on the solution I’ll be offering to help you with this, then contact me and let me know you want to be emailed when the info is online.