Spring is approaching. Or is it? Down in south Louisiana, we have the bulk of our winter weather now. While we spend most of our time in December running around in short sleeve shirts with the AC going, winter appears just as the Mardi Gras floats come barreling down the local towns in the frigid, damp and windy February nights.
Now I realize while talking about this, some of you have had it with shoveling snow, scraping windows and throwing salt down on the walkway. You would much rather be sipping on a warm cup of joe with a larger coat on in Fat City about now. You may be even peeking into another February tradition of finding out if Phil the groundhog saw his shadow to determine the upcoming season change.
I will say that I love any holiday that celebrates a fluffy and fuzzy figure (Christmas, Groundhog’s Day, my birthday). I am not a traditionalist at heart, however. I ponder on why so many holidays and traditions are followed, especially one that was created in the late 1800s to predict spring based on a rodent's shadow. Consider the fact that the shadow legend is only accurate less than 40 percent of the time and you can really begin to wonder why this is even on the calendar this year. Tradition is tradition after all.
So, the question looms, should we continue wrapping traditions into our lives that feed us false information, false hope that take up our time and energy just because it is what we are used to? Consider your business for example. This is an article in the great National Oil Lube News! If someone were to walk into your shop today, and questioned you on why you perform something a certain way, would you have a good answer? Would you just shrug and tell them that is how you do it.
Just like pulling the chubby groundhog out of the log, your procedure that you hold on to may not be hurting you. It may not be accurate, but it is what you do. So why fix something if it isn’t technically broken? Who needs data anyway? Sure, it can be done more efficiently, cheaper, and safer. Who needs that when you have a long-standing relationship with the comfort of repetition?
Which brings us to the other Groundhog’s Day tradition, when you watch the great Bill Murray slumber through his mundane life repeating mediocracy till it drives him to the edge. In the 1993 film, “Phil” is stuck, consumed in limbo as life seamlessly passes him by. Day after day, story after story, he quickly becomes a backdrop of his own life even though his ego makes him think he is the star. One day, inspiration strikes, and the realization sets in that his ways are exactly what is keeping him in this comatic existence. Once Phil realizes his desires are obtainable and it is in fact his own self-made obstacles that are holding him back, he can now make the needed adjustments to achieve his personal success.
Your inspiration may be different. The desire to expand turns your attention to employee development rather than putting it all on your back. The desire to pay the bills and not lock the door creates a pathway to manage the books and watch the expenses better. The quest for success drives you to determine what success is and creates your path to achieve success.
It isn’t until we have these realizations that we begin to understand what is holding us back. “Good is the enemy of great” from the business writings of Jim Collins is one of the best lines I have read. This is never truer as we find ourselves buried in our traditions and habits that once were meant to make us great, but we settled into the trap of good. Life, and our chances to hit our desired goals slips away from us as we nestle into the resistance of fear and uncertainty from change.
Change is good of course. It brings us joy to know that something is coming that is different from what we have. We cheer when the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow as we think winter is over and the flowers will soon fill our lives again. We talk of greatness as if the groundhog is actually going to make it warmer. Change brings us new vehicles, new software, new guests and new hope. Change can only happen when we decide to look at our existence, question tradition and straighten our path to our personal goals. This starts with you and your Groundhog Day.