Cut Your Coat According to Your Cloth

( Charles Yeung)

The best strategy for dealing with crises and blunders is to cut your coat according to your cloth, that is, being down to earth and acting according to your ability.

It is disclosed in some research cases that people are of three types when encountering blunders.  The first type eludes responsibilities.  They either give up or get completely beaten down by the situation.  The second type is the Good-Time-Charlie. They assume someone else will take care of it and eventually problems will go away.  The third type faces reality.  These people investigate the problems and pragmatically seek out solutions.

The greatest failure in life is giving up.  Therefore, one who eludes responsibilities or quits upon blunders is a loser.  Those who get beaten down are not worth emulating, either.

When encountering moments of difficulty, what type of people typically can’t persevere till the end?
The “Good-Time Charlie.”  When facing a blunder, they would say, “Christmas. By Christmas the problem will be solved.”  Christmas comes and goes, and the problem is still there.  Then they would say, “Before Easter. We will definitely get out of it before Easter.”  Easter passes by as well, and then there comes Thanksgiving and soon enough it is Christmas again.  And yet the problem remains.  Eventually they are broken-hearted and just abandon ship.

When encountering a blunder, leaders of top companies usually do not just hope to get out of it by  Christmas.  They face reality head-on, examine what they did not do well enough, and take actions to solve the problem.  As leaders of top companies, they know that “This is what life is, full of ups and downs. Everyone has experienced disappointments, frustrations, and inexplicable failures along the way. Everyone gets sick and gets hurt.”

When things are less than satisfactory, leaders of top companies are typically positive rather than negative.  They believe they will overcome their mistakes, and they face the cruel reality bravely.  With positive  thinking, we are not knocked down by adversities; we grow stronger.

Researchers discovered that the key of molding top companies is not complicated — just disregard the noises and focus on the few tasks that have the widest impact.  To do this is to act in accordance with the highest of the military “principles of war”: concentrate fire for annihilation.  Once you find and realize this theory of simplicity and unity, your company gets a chance to transform itself and will create groundbreaking and long-lasting results.

Such is the “Hedgehog Principle,” one of the most successful strategies in the world.  There are three aspects in implementing this principle.

1. In what respects can we match the highest standards in the market?  Equally important, we need to know in what respects we fall short.  This discernment is way more important than your core competence because, once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can exert your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.  That is, choosing the right goal and direction is more important than having certain strengths.  In other words, knowing where you are going is more important than having a tremendous amount of horsepower.

2. From where do our profits come?  Cash flow and profitability are the fuel and the driving power behind company development.  Sufficient fuel is required for generating driving power, and enormous driving power is needed in pushing forward in a high speed.

3. Are we passionate with what we do?  One may be born with passion, but one can cultivate it, too. If you happen to love your job, congratulations — you are halfway to success!  Since you love the job you do, you enjoy the working process as well.  Since you consider your job meaningful, you cannot wait to start working when you get out of bed every morning. Passion can be cultivated as well, in the same way you can develop interest in something. As long as you can develop enough interest in your job, you are willing to devote
more time and energy to it, which will lead to greater results and accomplishments.

None of these three is dispensable.  Without enough profit, your speedy development cannot go on. Not being among the top three in the business, you are not competitive enough in the long run.  If you don’t like your job, you cannot enjoy it and you will not be able to sustain infinite creativity or create new products.


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