Are you like Clark Griswold or Ray Lewis?

I have decided to stop being like Clark Griswold with my business development efforts and more like Ray Lewis. If that sounds like the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard just keep reading.

I have been working really hard on my business development efforts. Everyone around me knows it. I have devoted a tremendous amount of time and resources and, thankfully, have had pretty good success. But, when you compare the success I have had vis-a-vis the effort and resources expended, I must admit, I was hoping for more new business at this point.

About the best way I can think of to describe my efforts is Clark Griswold on one of my favorite movies: Christmas Vacation. Watch this clip and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’ve seen that movie as much as I have you can’t forget those memorable lines:

“He worked really hard, Grandma.”

“So do washing machines.”

I have been like Clark — like a washing machine. That is nothing to be proud of. I have been spending maximum effort on all sorts of activities, some of which were productive, some of which were not, and by doing so I have taken valuable time away from my family and my existing clients — and much of it wasn’t even necessary or productive. A great deal of it has been productive but, with a little tweaking, can be much more effective. I have been just like Clark spending the Holidays stapling lights on the roof without even knowing if they were going to work or not. Fortunately, I had someone give me some guidance — someone to turn the light switch on for me.

Yesterday afternoon I had a three hour coaching session with Cordell Parvin. Cordell is my coach. Do you have a coach? If not, why?

Like any good coach would do, the first thing Coach Cordell did was assess where I was in my development by looking at all of the different business development activities I have been doing. It had to be impressive, right? I mean heck, I have been working hard and anyone can see that. Cordell, however, wasn’t quite as impressed as I had expected. In fact, I even got a chuckle out of him when I mentioned (with pride) a few of the “opportunities” I have had develop that I thought were pretty dog-gone impressive. Cordell pointed out a lot of positive things and knows I’m willing to do what it takes to succeed but there was much work to be done.

“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.” – Vince Lombardi

Cordell’s role is not to pat me on the back and say “you’re working hard, just work a little harder and one day you may get there.” No, his comment to me was something to the effect of “ok, that’s fine, but wouldn’t you rather start making more money?”

Really Cordell? I have a wife and 5 kids at home … kids that want to go to college … of course I would!

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.” – Vince Lombardi

Lombardi is exactly right — a great coach doesn’t just tell you what to do, he makes it so that you learn the lesson so convincingly that it becomes a part of you. We were only about 15 minutes into the session and Cordell already identified a couple of big reasons my efforts had not yielded the results they should have and like a light bulb flashing in my head, it all made sense. The rest of the session was spent with Cordell showing me precisely what I needed to do to refine my efforts to make them more effective, and things I needed to cut out all together. I’m not talking about broad generalities here. Not even close. I am talking about a specific list of things to do (17 Penultimate pages on my iPad).

I was spending a great deal of time on things that I enjoy doing but things that are not the most effective and efficient use of my time and resources achieve the real objective. It’s not that I haven’t been doing the right things because, in large part, I have. It’s that I haven’t been doing the right things in the best way I could be doing them. With many of my activities this requires only a minor “tweak” or “adjustment” to make a difference.

I was only working hard, not smart.

Funny thing is, I thought I already knew this. I knew I needed to work smart. Just a month or so ago I read this post by Seth Godin who made the same point using different terms. I even made a note of it and put it on my desk to remember — I thought I had it but I guess I didn’t have it like I thought I had it. (sorry – that was fun)

I knew the concept but I did not know the finer points of how to apply it to my business development efforts. Now I do. Well, at least I do more than I did yesterday at this time. I have made progress though I still have lots to learn.

That brings me to the question I asked earlier: Why?

Why don’t you have a coach? 

Now we get to Ray Lewis. Yeah — Ray Ray — you wanna tell him that he needs a coach and you don’t?


Then watch the video below. That’s not washing machine work out there friends! He’s a laser — focused on one thing and one thing only — getting better and better at doing his job in the most effective way possible. Willingly standing on the shoulders of giants in the process. Enough said?


13 thoughts on “Are you like Clark Griswold or Ray Lewis?

  1. This was an outstanding post and I really liked the analogy you used of Clark Griswold. I wish I would have had a “coach” years ago not only for my career, but for my personal life also.

    1. Thank you Mom! When you say not just for career, but for life, you are right — and Cordell is a great coach for both because the truth is, in the end, being successful in our career is meaningless if our lives are not successful personally as well!

  2. At least you had a fairly gentle turnaround moment. Mine came when I was running alongside a commuter train leaving Chicago, pounding on the side, trying to stop it. Yeah – an 8-car, diesel locomotive pulled train! I found myself standing on the end of the platform, shaking with rage. The real sad part of that? Then next train left 22 minutes later. Yep – I was freaking out over 22 lousy minutes. It hit me right there and then, and I ended up walking back into the station laughing at myself.
    Good thing they don’t post cops out on the platforms, or I might’ve wound up in the looney bin! 😀

    1. Cordell, how are you my coach!?! I apologize for the delay in responding but, well, you have done such a good job that I am finding little time for doing much else than trying to keep up with business. Amen! Thank you, looking forward to a visit soon!

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