Are You Stuck on the Red Dot?

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Let’s say you have to go to the shopping mall. (You: “Death would be a preferable alternative.” Me: “Agreed, but stay with me; I’m going somewhere with this.”) And let’s say that, once at the mall, you develop a thirst for an Orange Julius. (You: “Are you serious? Orange Julius? Nobody’s developed a thirst for an Orange Julius since, like, 1978.” Me: “Again, fair point, but we’re almost there.”) Now, you don’t know where the Orange Julius is, so what do you do? You look at the mall directory. And there, in all likelihood, you’ll see a red dot that says “You are here.” That’s what I want to talk about. (You: “So I don’t have to have an Orange Julius?” Me: “Nope.” You: “I’m going to name my first-born child after you.”) So let’s talk about the dot, and what it means to you and your business.

That red dot can be very comforting. There’s something reassuring about knowing, with certainty, that “You are here.” So, by a show of hands, how many of you would simply stay there forever, just because it’s comfortable? (Me: Looking…looking…I see no hands.)

So how come so many of you are doing exactly that in your business?

See, here’s the difference between the dot and you. The dot can’t move. You can. In fact, if you ever want to get to the Orange Julius (You: “I thought you said I didn’t…” Me: “Stop panicking—it’s just a metaphor.”), you have to move. Whatever your goal is, whether it’s an Orange Julius or world domination (or, quite possibly, somewhere in between), you have to figure out how to get there from your current red dot. On the mall directory, it’s pretty easy. Just walk down the corridor, turn left at the Piercing Pagoda, continue to the Food Court, and, voila, Orange Julius! In the business world, it’s not always that simple.

Take a look at where you are right now. Assess your situation. What’s your financial state? How much education and/or training do you have? What are your strengths? Now look at where you want to go. Okay—so what’s it going to take to get there? What skills will you need that you don’t have now? What obstacles will you face? Who do you know who can help you? Depending on your goal and the location of your current red dot, the gaps may seem daunting. But the first step is to know, to really know, that you can get there from here. You can leave the red dot.

When the Beatles started out, their red dot was Liverpool, England. That was their “You are here.” It was also the red dot for some 300 other bands. And most of them never strayed from that red dot. It was comfortable, and the gaps to anywhere else were just too great. But the Beatles had a different destination in mind, and they knew, with absolute conviction, that they would get there. So they left the red dot, closed the gaps, and conquered the world. (See? That “world domination” thing doesn’t sound so ridiculous now, does it?)

The thing is, that red dot that says “You are here”—it’s just a sticker somebody put on a map; it’s not a life sentence. So stop running your business, and stop living your life, as if it were.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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