Up Your Business is an exclusive GEARS Magazine feature in which I share stories, insights, and reflections about business and life.
The other day, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes getting to know Scott Addison, a fellow that I’d been playing pickleball with over the past several weeks. It’s funny how life goes. I’ve probably spent several hours on the courts playing with Scott but never really got acquainted with him. However, while waiting for a court to become available, we had our first chance to sit have a conversation.
As most first conversations go, we asked about our past lives – where we’re from, where we went to school, our careers, our families, how we ended up in Arizona, and so on. To our mutual surprise, it turned out that we both had careers in the auto repair business. He’d owned two traditional gas stations with multiple repair bays for nearly 40 years in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We both sold our businesses around the same time – he in 2005 and I in 2004. And we both migrated to Arizona for the climate.
Rather than bore you with the rest of the conversation, I’ll suffice to say that I’ve found a new friend who shares a similar career history and an interest in pickleball.
I’m sharing this story because one thing I learned about Scott that day inspired me to write this article and title it “Not Yet.” When I asked Scott if I could get his contact information, his reply totally blindsided me. He said, “I don’t have a cell phone or email, but I can give you my landline and physical address.” Of course, I thought he was kidding me. I said, “Come on, are you serious; you don’t have a cell phone or email?” and he replied, “No, not yet. In fact, I’ve never sent or received an email.”
When I realized Scott was serious, I was hooked and had to learn more. How could anyone live in today’s world without a cell phone or email? Email is already going obsolete! And it’s not like he’s been living a hermit’s life or under a rock. He has a wife, owns a home in an upscale community, and owned two businesses.
Well, as Scott and I continued our conversation, he explained his version of why he’d avoided cell phones and computers. I think as he was explaining, though, he was experiencing a personal epiphany. He was coming to believe that his reasoning might be questionable. Nonetheless, it made sense to him at the time, and a little justification is all anyone needs for saying, “Not yet.”
Scott explained that his businesses were in a rough part of Bridgeport, Connecticut. By the time pagers and cell phones were commonplace, his gas stations had added a minimart component and sold prepaid beepers and cell phones. However, he recalled that the people buying them, for the most part, were using them for shady activities. As he put it, “They weren’t using them to call home to say hi to Mom. I associated the use of beepers and cell phones with things that didn’t align with my moral compass. That turned me off, and that was enough of a reason for me not to want one.”
I’ve shared that story with you because I want you to do some self-reflection and consider areas of your life where you’re saying, “Not yet.” This short phrase is so commonly used to justify delaying, procrastinating, and not taking action that its meaning has little impact. Yet, its subconscious (almost subliminal) stopping power goes unnoticed.
The deceptive message behind this two-word phrase, “Not yet,” is “No, but I’m going to do it.” It’s deceptive because we’re misleading others and fooling ourselves. We learn to use it at an early age, and over time, it becomes habitually pervasive in our lives: Did you make your bed? “Not yet.” Did you do your chores? “Not yet.” Did you do your homework? “Not yet.” Then we progress to, did you study for that final exam? “Not yet.” Did you follow up on that job interview? “Not yet.” Did you call that customer back? “Not yet.” Did you finish the business plan? “Not yet.”
The problem is that we can “Not yet” our way through life until it’s too late. At some point, many of the things we’ve habitually said “Not yet” to doing become more and more critical and even life-altering. We let our health slip away to the point of no return when we say “Not yet” to proper diet and exercise or to getting medical checkups. We fritter away our most valuable asset, time, by not getting started with our retirement plans. (See last month’s article, Do You Want to Be a Millionaire?)
At the end of the day, the phrase, “Not yet” is nothing more than procrastination. When we procrastinate, what we’re saying is: It’s not important enough for me to do it. The consequences of doing it aren’t significant enough or immediate enough to cause me to do it. The rewards for doing it aren’t worth it. Or, the deadline for doing it isn’t pressing or doesn’t exist at all.
So, the next time you find yourself saying “Not yet” to someone, pause and think. Reword your response, at least silently to yourself, “No. It’s not important enough to me.” “No. It’s not worth doing it.” Or, “No. What’s going to happen if I don’t do it?” See how that flies for you when your spouse says, “Did you get me something nice for our anniversary?”
The next time one of your employees or children respond to you by saying “Not yet,” ask them if it’s because it’s not important or just not worth it to them to do it.
Now for the big question, have you made your plans and reservations for attending the ATRA Powertrain Expo this coming October 10th – 13th in Nashville? I’ll bet you almost said it, didn’t you? If you haven’t made plans to attend, is it because you don’t think it’s important or that it’s not worth it? Neither reason is correct. The Expo is the most important event of the year, and it’s worth every dime and every minute you invest in it! Just ask anyone who’s attended past Expos.
By the way, today I spoke with Scott about this article, and when I asked him if he’s going to get a cell phone, he replied with a chuckle, “Not yet, but would you come with me and help me pick one out?”
I hope to see you at the ATRA Powertrain Expo in Nashville this coming October.
About the Author
Thom Tschetter has served our industry for nearly four decades as a management and sales educator. He owned a chain of award-winning transmission centers in Washington State for over 25 years.
He calls on over 30 years of experience as a speaker, writer, business consultant, and certified arbitrator for topics for this feature column.
Thom is always eager to help you improve your business and your life. You can contact him by phone at (480) 773-3131 or e-mail to email@example.com.