You know what I did the other day?
I got into my car at 11:15 am and drove 45 minutes to have lunch with my friend Nick Miller.
We had a quick lunch, took a short stroll to keep chatting, shook hands and said goodbye.
Then I got back in my car and drove another 45 minutes home to my office.
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So here’s my question for you, Mr., Ms., or (your mother must be so proud) Dr. Solo Professional: Is that a good use of my time?
Three hours, sliced like a pot-roasted brisket (Happy Passover) right out of the middle of my work day.
Nick’s not here, so let me tell you the truth. Every time one of these “Nick lunches” pops up on my calendar (about twice a year), my first thought is “ugh.”
My second thought is, “45 minutes in each direction? That’s half the day by the time I go and come back. I have more important things to do.”
But of course, I go, because it’s too late to cancel.
Fortunately, my third thought is (don’t worry, I’m done numbering my thoughts), “This is always a worthwhile trip.”
Nick’s both a terrific guy and very, very smart.
And while our businesses and business models are quite dissimilar, I always drive away with at least one, great, often game-changing idea.
(It was a lunch with Nick a couple of years ago which got me thinking about offering online, group classes, something that at this point has grown to become a significant part of my income.)
But I never feel like going, that day.
And that’s the point.
You can’t improve your business (or, frankly, your life) by only doing what needs doing right now – or what seems important right now.
Because right now, you’re focused on right now. (Is this getting too complicated?)
You’re thinking short-term need (“I have lots to do around here today”) rather than long-term value (“Lunch with Nick is always worth the drive”). And it’s critical that you separate the two.
As a practical matter, that means doing things such as …
… having lunch with smart people (first name, Nick, optional).
… reading books (not just tweets, books, my Gen-whatever, short-attention-spanned friend) outside of your industry.
… scheduling time, away from your office, to plan and think about your business.
You get the picture.
The biggest, best, business-altering ideas you’ll ever have, come in the long-term moments. And if you don’t schedule them in advance – and honor said schedule – you’re not going to have very many.
I speak to a lot of business owners who say, or think, that they’re pretty good at the proverbial “out of the box” thinking. But they spend too much time with their proverbial “nose to the grindstone” and not enough seeing the world. I find it valuable speaking to people who are not in my box, to see how they see me in my box. They may not be great at seeing outside their own, but they’re surely not in mine. I agree with you, Michael, that it’s hard to fight the feeling that I shouldn’t “take time off” to have this vital conversations. I have to remember that most times I do it, it’s a big win, or at least a breath of fresh air.
I agree, Ira, it’s not easy. Along with the subjects of excercising and avoiding crappy food, I pretty much just ignore the advice of my in-the-moment brain!
Thank you for this reminder. I’m way overdue for my middle of the day lunch with my friend, Maureen. I’m sending her an email now…
Good for you Lisa!
Well Michael, if you haven’t read “Eat That Frog” you probably were a collaborating author!
Thanks Andra, I will check it out!