No chipped paint, all horses jump
Just a boy at the time, Walt Disney vowed that if the day ever came, his rides would be immaculate, and his services unmatched ...characterized by a lesson he learned at a young age, "No chipped paint, all horses jump." Malcolm Gladwell also tells an interesting story about how the mayor of New York turned the city around by fixing broken windows. He said if you see a broken window it shows there’s a lack of up keep and so people feel OK throwing rubbish, damaging more property and/or breaking more windows. It’s the same when I walk into a business reception area or a boardroom. Messy whiteboards, pens that don’t work, cords in every cupboard in every place that don’t really work or fit with anything, out of date magazines.....they’re all broken windows. They set the standard. What you walk by, is the standard you accept. Pick a company and walk into their kitchen. If you see dirty cups, washing up to be done on the sink, sugar on the counter, old biscuits, a fridge full of stuff that’s out of date and going off. They’re all broken windows.
It’s Covid. Well no, it’s actually poor service. That’s because of the lack of standards. And that’s because it’s a lack of leadership. It’s not Covid‘s fault. Many are falling into the trap of blaming Covid for everything. It’s the excuse being used when things don’t go right. If a retail store is not working ... it's Covid. Yesterday I bought clothing at department store. Paid... left the store, the alarm went off. Thinking I still had the tag on the clothing I went back, the security person said no it’s fine keep going. So I drive home to discover ...yes, tag still on clothing. Now in my time I have to return to the store. Why? Poor service, a lack of attention to detail, no intention and staff members who seriously didn’t hold a standard and probably didn’t even want to be in the store. If sales are down, Covid is the reason. Don’t blame Covid. Do an audit on you, your leadership, your systems, your service, the culture you’re creating. It's easy to blame Covid when we are just not up to scratch and that's probably the real reason sales are down.
Wu wei in Chinese means 'non-doing' or 'doing nothing'. It sounds like a pleasant invitation to relax or worse, fall into laziness or apathy. Yet this concept is key to the noblest kind of action according to the philosophy of Daoism – and is at the heart of what it means to follow Dao or The Way. It's funny how we watch videos, read books, listen to podcasts or crave the latest blog to find the newest hack, the shortcut, and easier way to success. Yet some of the most profound and productive learnings come from the past. The ancient ones had it right, yet we keep tinkering with the latest and greatest with the hope of finding Nirvana. I love the simplicity of Wu wei and many of the most successful people I interview will have relaxation and recovery as one of their non-negotiables in their day in order to be at their best and most productive. Yeah we turn away from Wu wei to give in to this desire for more....do more, have more, be more, get more, yet the true answer to inner fulfillment could well be around not more, but less.