What is the Biggest Enemy of Business Success?


From Mark Sanborn:


The worst enemy of business? Indifference.

Indifference is a lack of concern, interest or sympathy and it hurts business in two areas: people and process.

A lack of concern for your employees/colleagues and your customers/clients is the quickest way to destroy commitment and loyalty. Even when you disagree with someone, it shows you are interested enough to engage them. Indifference is a dead end street. It is hard to care about others who don’t seem to care about anything or anyone (except themselves). So why would we care about their business success?

Indifference to process is what happens when you aren’t interested in the details of your business. You can’t be bothered to “look at the numbers” or “deal with the problems,” as if there was something better you should be doing with you time.

We care about what and who is important to us, and if you aren’t concerned about the people and processes of your business, you probably don’t care about profits either.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

From Scott McKain:


Lack of focus is the biggest enemy of success.  It’s an old analogy; however, it makes the point:  Sunshine alone won’t set a piece of paper on fire, but if you take a magnifying glass and focus the rays, it can cause the paper to erupt in flames.  The sunshine is the same – it’s the focus that creates the reaction.

Perhaps, in today’s age of intense media, the Internet, and unlimited entertainment options, it’s easier to be distracted than ever before.  However, those who desire to be successful can’t use that as an excuse.

What are the keys to focus? Here are three:

  1. Be specific.
  2. Plan.
  3. Write it down.

How do you focus without a target? You can’t – in other words, you need a precise object in order to concentrate.  After you’ve developed a specific target, next — begin to plan on the steps required to achieve your desire.  Finally, write it down – for some reason, putting pen to the page creates a contract with yourself for achievement.

With a specific target, a developed plan, and a written commitment, you will have established the focus required to overcome the biggest enemy of success.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

From Larry Winget:


The biggest enemy of business success is success. Yep, you read it right. Nothing will kill success any quicker than being really successful. I have seen it many times with many people and many businesses. You experience a level of success and then you focus so much on achieving even more success, that you lose sight of what made you successful. While it is important to be forward thinking in order to build and expand on your hard-earned achievements, I believe it is even more important not to become forgetful. And success makes you forgetful.

Success makes you lazy and lulls you into a sleepy, safe place of complacency where you forget some or all of the things that made you successful in the first place: great customer service, value, hard work, paying attention to the little things, showing up early, making the calls, working closely with your suppliers, exceeding expectations, paying close attention to your money, staying on top of personnel issues, focus, prioritizing, celebrating every victory, learning from your mistakes and appreciating all of the people who helped you become successful. Remember: Look up so you can keep building but never forget to attend to the foundation.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

From Randy Pennington:


Businesses don’t succeed for all sorts of reasons: a bad product; lousy financial controls; ignoring customer needs; poor sales and marketing; no planning. The list could go on.

But, there is one overriding cause at the heart of all of those reasons – inattention.

It is almost impossible for a single leader to pay attention to everything as the business grows. You have to leverage the energy, talent, and commitment of others. And that means that leaders must give their greatest attention to building a culture that never succumbs to inattention.

I agree with Larry that success can make you complacent if you let it. But, inattention can also stem from lack of knowledge or inadequate resources.

The businesses that consistently succeed pay almost fanatical attention to building and sustaining a culture where every person at every level is 100 percent committed, equipped, and accountable for doing ALL the things that deliver consistent results.

I look at it this way: Running a business is a lot like having a successful relationship. No one starts with failure as the goal. And, both fail when you stop giving attention to the crucial aspects that make them successful … starting with the right culture.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

From Joe Calloway:


The biggest enemy of business success is passion.

Now, everyone get up off the floor because most of you just fainted from shock. Isn’t passion the very thing that makes a business succeed? Actually it’s energy coupled with, as McKain points out, focus, that drives success. As an article in the Wall Street Journal recently stated, “if there’s anything that can sink a new business, it’s passion. It blinds entrepreneurs, leading them to get overconfident and make bad choices at the worst times.” Click Here to read the WSJ article.

The killer: you think that because you love your product/service, everyone else will, too.

Research from Keith Hmieleski and Robert Baron calls this “the tendency to expect positive outcomes even when such expectations are not rationally justified.” The passion to “follow your dreams” and not dispassionately understand the realities of the marketplace is a lethal business killer.

Winget and I have always said that being whipped up in a fit of passion over your business clouds judgment and reason and leads to bad decisions which leads to failure.

Passionate? Fine. But you’d better bring some dispassionate judgment along, too.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

Our addiction to outrage…and what to do about it…

The news recently has been seemingly filled with examples of horrific behavior, as well as a multitude of situations that will guarantee fascinating discussions — from domestic abuse to financial swindling — from the boundaries of acceptable parental discipline to the way we are treating a horrible disease.

  • For many of these cultural predicaments, the proper response is to be outraged. We should always be aghast at a man knocking out his girlfriend or a person abusing a child.

However, it sometimes seems as though we have reached a point where the pendulum has swung perhaps a bit too far. Many appear to be just as indignant about the minor transgressions as the major offenses.

 Some are seemingly addicted to outrage.

hIt has been suggested that social media is to blame – yet, I find that akin to blaming the tool instead of the person using it. There’s no doubt that Facebook, Twitter, and the others have provided a higher platform from which these outrage addicts can spew their venom – but, it seems to me that this is simply an indicator of a societal trend.

We see our political leaders unable to reach consensus on just about anything. “If you’re on the other side of the aisle,” the current thinking seems to go, “then you cannot possibly have an idea or approach I can support.”

Certainly, if one studies history, we have had times of enormous public vitriol in politics – however, in the past, our leaders always found a way to resolve disputes for the good of the public.

  • Now, post anything innocuous regarding politics or personal choices regarding ethics or philosophy, and observe the fury and indignation in the responses of those who disagree with you.

For example, President Obama is not just “a leader with whom you disagree” – he’s called “the worst President in history” (obviously from people who haven’t studied Warren Harding or Franklin Pierce). He’s hell bent — according to posts I’ve read from people I didn’t realize were so filled with wrath and resentment — on “literally destroying the nation.”

Look, I may or may not disagree with the President’s positions – however, he’s still the President of the United States and deserves a degree of respect. It’s pretty ironic, in my opinion, that the same people who respect Ronald Reagan for never removing his suit jacket in the Oval Office will simultaneously launch such outrageous attacks on another holding the same exalted position. What happened to Reagan’s approach of “disagree without being disagreeable”?

  • Why do so many seemingly respond to those with whom they have an opposing position with such barbarous wrath?

Perhaps it’s the outrage addiction that afflicts us.

What does this addiction to outrage mean to you and your business?

  • If you fail to deliver as promised or expected to a customer, they have a right to be upset. They never, however, have a right to be abusive.

This is, I believe, a line a customer cannot cross. It’s one thing to be upset – it’s quite another to be vile. If a customer becomes personal in his or her outrage, threatening in demeanor, or displaying an appearance of threatening an assault – it’s over. They’re fired as a customer.

  • Your team has to understand this – and know that, while your goal is to deliver an “Ultimate Customer Experience” — you will never, EVER put their physical or emotional health at risk to appease a customer’s complaint.

In this era where rage and resentment seem to be the initial approach of some customers who do not get their way, your first position must be to diffuse the situation and get to the real issue.

Two critical questions you must ask are:

  • Are my colleagues (and am I) trained in the steps necessary to handle heated conversations with customers?
  • If not, what can you do to resolve that lack of education and training immediately?

Second, understand that some are using this addiction to outrage as a tactic to get your attention.

We recently caught a customer in a bald-faced lie. Prior to our showing the documentation that she had lied to us, she was screaming that we had unlawfully charged her credit card and had misrepresented our services – and that she was taking us to the Better Business Bureau and to court. When we showed her the form that she had personally signed, displayed the tracking that we had that proved she had accessed her training account and had caught her in a total fabrication – her response was, “Oh. OK. I’m sorry. I thought if I didn’t raise hell, I wouldn’t make you aware of my complaint — that I now realize was totally erroneous.”

She thought that simply saying that would enable her to continue as our customer.  She thought wrong.

While I could suggest that her tactics were something that I might have a right to be outraged about, the better choice for my business — and yours — is to:

  • First, understand that this approach is becoming more prevalent in our world
  • Second, to do all that we can to diffuse it – or eliminate it – when we are confronted with it.
  • Third, uphold and enforce our standards whenever the line is crossed.





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