A few summers ago, my husband and I went to the Ogden Theater in Denver to catch a show. Kurt Vile to be exact. The show turned out to be surprisingly boring (sorry, Kurt...I still love your music!) so the highlight of the evening was something that happened on the way to the show.
For about 15 minutes, we watched a guy who was supremely impaired on lord knows what try to get his arm into his jacket.
He already had proof of concept: his left arm was in the jacket sleeve...it was just getting that right one in.
And man was he determined.
He started by leaning over to his right so the jacket sleeve would dangle, and then lift his right hand with his left ever so gently to guide it in and I think we're all holding our breath in anticipation and he'd...just miss it.
Then he'd sigh and start over.
After about, I don't know, 1,000 tries, he realizes the leaning move isn't working, so he tries out a new and sort of counter-intuitive move that starts with him crouching all the way to the ground with his right arm tucked into his armpit, rising in a way where clearly he intended momentum to be the catalyst that would drive his arm into the jacket sleeve.
That did not work, either. I'm no physics person, but he wasn't moving fast enough to have momentum.
But he'd sigh, shake his unjacketed arm at the sky, and start over.
His third move was the boldest of all. He took his jacket off altogether – I was like, "NO! NO! You're halfway there!" – and put his right arm in the jacket. But then that pesky left arm was still out, so he repeated his first two moves, which didn't work on the left side any better than the right.
But it was his fourth move that was the winner. He recognizes a guy walking down the street and motions to him in a way that says, "I NEED YOUR HELP TO GET MY JACKET ON!"
And the other guy helps him put his arm in the jacket. And then off he goes, as the Pearl Jam song goes.
We had no idea that the show would be a snore (sorry, Kurt!) or that the poster would be such a strange size that fits no standard frames in this world that this guy would be the highlight of the evening.
But seriously, I learned a few business-y takeaways from him that I'd like to share.
Keep on trying.
This guy was determined and tried four different things before he found his solution. Even when it wasn't easy. Even when he was frustrated. In your business, if something isn't working, it usually shines the light on what will so create a plan to give that a go.
Avoid fake productivity.
When he took off his jacket altogether he solved the right arm problem but created a left-arm problem. And then he did the same thing that didn't work the first time. But I'm sure he felt like he was doing something productive because he was trying to get his left arm in the jacket.
In your business, it's easy to rinse and repeat tactics – even ones that don't work – because they feel familiar and we feel capable in them because we've done them before. Be sure to focus on the things that advance your business goals to find what works so you can do more of that.
Ask for help...from someone who's
qualified to help you.
This guy could not get his jacket alone. He was only successful when he found someone who was qualified to help him. So if you're feeling like you're going it alone in your business, find an online or in-person community of like-minded entrepreneurs, take an online course, even hire a coach if you can afford it. I can tell you from my personal experience my business took off when I found my community and started working with coaches.
And, sending out a hug to that guy on the street for his inspiration and determination.
I'm rooting for him...and for you.