“Pick That Lizard” -- Business Lessons From Lucy The Wonder Dog

After years of resisting the pleas of our kids, my wife and I finally broke down and adopted a dog into our family. Not just any dog, but a new puppy! We named her Lucy, and at times, she displays the same frenetic energy, perfectly coordinated lack of coordination, and impeccable comic timing as TV’s original “Lucy”, Lucille Ball. Now, as a consultant / business coach running a practice mainly out of my home office, I’m well positioned to see Lucy’s antics in action on a near-daily basis. She is the unofficial mascot of FocalPoint Coaching of Florida, and I often have major brainstorms during our “walkies” time together, which really do help me make intuitive leaps thinking about my business, as well as those of my clients.

In fact, it is Lucy’s reckless abandon and zest for life while on “walkies” that inspire this very blog on time and priority management! With MANY huge apologies to the great Brian Tracy, I am giving Lucy credit for helping me come up with an unofficial and absolutely unauthorized sequel to Brian’s outstanding book on time management “Eat That Frog”, which takes its name from a Mark Twain quote. I am going to call Lucy’s sequel “Pick That Lizard”.

As a young puppy, Lucy finds the world to be an incredibly exciting place. And while she has managed to explore every square inch of our house (and my office), any trip outdoors provides almost limitless new input into her sharp canine senses. Her urge to explore, coupled with her keen nose, eyes, and ears, means that every leaf blowing in the wind, every rustle in the neighbor’s hedges, and every insect flitting from bush to tree is a reason to take off and run. (Thankfully, the leash has held so far!)

But in her heart of hearts, Lucy is a huntress. Generations of domestication have not dulled her killer instinct, when prey is nearby. Her favorite targets are lizards. Here in southern Florida, we are seemingly overrun by the small, quiet reptiles that crawl in the shadows of the dew-moistened suburban landscaping. While most remain nearly invisible to the naked (human) eye by day, Lucy seems never to miss a one while we are walking, darting this way and that in hot pursuit of any little reptile who has made the tactical error of choosing Lucy’s territory for his or her scaly constitutional.

But as quick, sensitive, and determined as she is, Lucy doesn’t catch much. In fact, thus far, about 5 months in, Lucy still has a big goose egg in the Win column. Sure, the fact that I have her on a leash accounts for some of this success drought, but there is also another, more fundamental reason that Lucy can’t catch a lizard. She so far seems to lack the capacity to pick a single lizard to chase.

See, the Florida sun and humidity have inspired thousands upon thousands of the little reptiles to make their home here. Rarely do they travel alone. Lucy often spots two, three, or four lizards at a time before pouncing. But when the lizards dart off, they tend to scatter in at least a couple of different directions. Lucy jumps left, then right, then left again, excited by the prospect of bagging a fresh catch. But her failure to choose a single direction ultimately dooms her to miss out on all of the juicy critters.

And Lucy’s pitfall while hunting is the same pitfall that befalls so many small businesses. We see so many great, juicy opportunities out there, and we want them ALL. And we’re confident (deservedly so) that we can catch any one of them. But although I’m a firm believer that we can accomplish ANYthing, I also know we cannot accomplish EVERYthing.

It seems painful, sometimes, to focus on one customer target at the expense of others. Look at all of the opportunity we may be missing!! And it feels much better to spread our advertising budget across three types of media, instead of concentrating on one to achieve breakthrough levels of impressions – we convince ourselves that we should cover more bases. There are countless examples, and I’ll bet you can name a number of them that you’ve faced in your own business.

But ultimately, when we chase after ALL of the lizards, like Lucy does, we wind up empty handed more often than not. We’re sometimes fast enough to pounce upon the prey of our choice, but when we fail to choose, we dilute our own efforts and limit our own effectiveness.

So now, in the waning weeks of 2017, I challenge you to be ruthless when looking at your 2018 planning. Just last week, I pulled out my rough draft of my own 2018 business plan, took a hard look at what I accomplished in 2017 AND also what I FAILED to accomplish. . . and I slashed my 2018 key initiatives down from four to two. Yes, I feel a little trepidation. I feel a little vulnerable putting all my eggs in just a couple of baskets. And yet doing so is the only way that I will have enough focus on the big prizes to actually be able to catch one, or both.

I challenge you to do the same. Take out your 2018 plan right now. Or take it out later this evening, and pour a glass of wine if that makes it easier. And be ruthless. Pick the lizard you’re chasing, and pounce. You can pick a second and even a third, if you like, but try to sequence your plans or line up your resources so that you know which one you’re chasing after first.

And if you still haven’t completed your 2018 plans yet, no need to fret. There’s still time. In fact, sometimes, less is more when it comes to initiative planning. If you’d like to have a quick chat to check in on business planning, I encourage you to reach out to me at coachellismass.youcanbook.me to book a brief (~20 minute) no-cost phone call. In the meantime, happy holidays and happy hunting!

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