Success Means Stating the Obvious

Did you know that the most successful people in the world never come up with an idea first? That’s because the most successful people do the best job of improving an already existing product or service.

Why is that? What I have found is that most people tend to overthink and under-deliver. They try to do too much and are often left wondering, “Why didn’t this work?”

I’ll give you an example: I was reading the book Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman (a quick read, by the way, I highly recommend you pick up this 42-page success maker by Robert Updegraff written in 1916), and I was struck by one of the stories inside.

Obvious Adams worked for an advertising agency in New York and was sent to evaluate why one store was pulling in sales and the other was not. After standing on the street corner for a while and watching the walking patterns of the pedestrians around the store, he noticed that nearly 50 percent more people were walking on the side street than the main road, where a large product display had been installed, because of where they had to cross the street. 

After returning to his office to deliberate with his co-workers, all sorts of planning went into fixing the issue, but in the end he recommended to just make a bigger sign and put it on the more highly trafficked side of the store.

Okay, so maybe that’s an old example of implementing the obvious to inflict positive change. Here’s another:

Recently an employee came to me with an issue. He mentioned that we were spending four to five man-hours each day over the course of a week, where we could save time and money by enlisting an online service to do the same thing in two days at a fraction of the cost it took to pay those people.  I loved that.

So what’s the moral of the story? Sometimes you have to think “inside” the box to think “outside” the box. Inefficiencies are everywhere, in business and in life, and the obvious can often be staring you right in the face until you are finally able to see it. 

What obvious changes can you make in your daily routine? At work? What about at home?


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