Success Strategies - September - 2020

A Time to Think… and Re-Think, Strategic Choices and Critical Decisions

“I think I’ll have myself a beer!” For many of us, this is a great way to end a day or start a barbecue or celebrate a workout, but, hang on a second before you pop that top. This could be a Critical Decision. Are you about to get in your car and drive your kids to a party? Is there a video conference call coming up that you’ll need to participate in? You might want to Re-think the timing of that beer.

I’m not preaching to you about your drinking habits. I’m just illustrating that things that are right decisions at one time might not be right decisions all the time. Nothing is threatening about one beer unless you have an alcohol problem, but there are times when an alternate beverage would be a better choice.

Philosopher Ken Buck observed, “Without reflection, there is no true learning.” In this article, I’m going to continue with the process I introduced in last month’s issue. It seems that there’s no better time to consider ways for applying the principles I discussed in Start Up Again than during this time of “modified stationary chaos” that we’re experiencing these days.

I was recently reflecting on when I decided to become a professional speaker in the late 1970s. I realized that this profession could involve over 100 airplane trips a year to the conventions and meetings where I’d be speaking. The field of motivation and self-improvement was popular at the time, and I was willing to do the work to become successful at it. I’d chosen a career path that meant being on the road as many as 240 nights a year. That’s exactly what happened – for 3 decades, my business required that much travel.

At this same Critical Decision point, I was also making other life choices. I was about 30 years old, and I wanted to stay physically fit. I considered various sports. Golf was popular among my friends, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t good at it yet. I had a cheap set of clubs, a simple bag, and a rolling cart. Then I reconsidered, “If I become a golfer, then I’ll need to play often, and each game will require a full set of clubs, a minimum time commitment of 3 hours, and practice time at the driving range.” Clearly, this was not a good Strategic Choice of hobbies for someone who traveled as much as I was planning to do. So, although I enjoyed it, I decided to give up golf and, instead, became a jogger. I sold my golf clubs and got out of the golfing business altogether.

Now, you could make a case for how golf is an excellent game for business networking and how I could both jog and golf quite easily. But I needed to focus, and my new business required my full attention. With jogging, all I needed was a good pair of shoes that I could easily pack for each trip. As a result of this simple life choice, I became an avid jogger, ran all over America and much of the world in some beautiful places, and stayed fit as well.

Rarely do we get A Time to Think… and Re-Think in the rush of life, work, and duties. There’s always someone or something demanding our attention, and that leaves little time for us to just quietly reflect on anything. But that’s exactly why we must do it! Now is your chance to make some better decisions. The “Great Shut-Down” is a forced Time to Think about things to do differently and doing different things.

The quality of your life is a direct reflection of your Strategic Decisions and Critical Decisions. Every day is a series of choices, but most folks go through their days on a default setting. They just do what they’ve always done. Like a cow in a pasture, they follow the beaten path and go with the herd. Don’t let that be you!

What you have or don’t have is a result of your choices and actions. Most people get what they have because their choices determine the results – it’s not necessarily what they want, but it’s what they deserve. They don’t get what they wish for, but they get what they’re willing to settle for under the circumstances. If you choose different actions, you create different results.

What this means to you is that you have choice in the matter – don’t be a victim. For example, maybe now’s a good time to renegotiate your lease, review your expectations with each employee or coworker, consider your advertising and marketing expenditures, Re-Think where, why, and what you stock – inventory, supplies, tools, information, etc.

Look at your website, your market awareness and public image, your relationships with colleagues in the auto aftermarket, how you could be a backup shop for dealerships, and so much more.

Re-Think your daily work patterns – where and when you take breaks or eat lunch, how you spend your off-job times, who you are learning from, what your next service offering should be, how you’ll expand or contract and refocus your work, what you’re doing with your spare time and your personal time.

Make Strategic Choices – proactive action steps you can take for the near and long-range future. What new skills or tools will you need? Do you need a new person or new talents on your team? How will you pass along the business once you’re done? Who are you grooming to take on the roles you fill so that you can let go or at least loosen your grip?

Here are some worthy topics for Re-Thinking the significant areas o f your life and your business.

  • Beliefs about yourself and your potential – you’re probably capable of much more than you suspect
  • Views and feelings about each of your team members
  • Assumptions and Expectations about your life/career
  • Views about leadership and managing people
  • How you feel about money
  • Sources of revenue
  • Primary and possible overlooked expenses
  • Systems and routines
  • Social connections and networking strategies
  • Professional affiliations
  • Health, fitness, nutrition
  • Assumptions about what you can or cannot change in life or business
  • Role models and heroes that you emulate or would like to emulate
  • Your age – what’s old and what do you base that on
  • Your dreams, goals, standards, plans, expectations, limitations
  • Why your business is a good investment of your money, time, and energy
  • When and how you expect to achieve the next breakthrough

This is a huge list. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Just pick one or two things that matter to you today and dedicate A Time to Think… and Re-Think applying principles of Strategic Decisions and Critical Choices. Then you just might want to go and have yourself a refreshing drink.

Jim Cathcart is a Mentor to High Achievers. He works with people who have decided to succeed and helps them refine their strategies and to succeed even faster. As the author of 20 books and a veteran of more than 3,300 professional speeches around the world, he brings a perspective that very few can. Contact him at or StartUpAgain.Me to see if you qualify to join one of his small group mentoring programs. Jim has been a friend of ATRA and GEARS for more than a decade. He’s a car guy and a motorcycle enthusiast when he’s not jogging.