What can a carpet cleaner learn from the “Three Stooges?”

carpet-cleaning-growth-take-timeYou know, it’s so easy to be blinded by the glitz and glamor of fast growth and easy money in business and in life. So much so that sometimes we get impatient with the slow turn of steady, solid progress.

But I think we can learn a valuable business lesson from a group of men that have not received their due as business authorities. If you’re in my age bracket, you might have watched them on TV…much to the dismay of your parents. Or you young punks may only know them from “vintage” film clips.

Yep, I’m talking about Larry, Curly, and Moe- the Three Stooges! Every week I’d watch these guys poke each other in the eye, smack each other on the head, and pull handfuls of hair off Larry’s body. They were hilarious even though I never understood why my parents didn’t like them!

Anyway, in one episode where the Three Stooges were going on a journey and Moe started off by saying, “Slowly I turned…step by step…inch by inch.”

Moe had it right. Successful journeys, whether it’s professional growth, organizational change OR just getting out of a mess are achieved step by step, inch by inch. But too often we complicate the situations (and frustrate ourselves) because we’re  too impatient.

After all, every day we see complex problems solved in a 30 minute TV show- why not in our business?  Or we’re told that if we get the sniffles, have a tummy ache, or feel depressed- just take a pill! In 15 minutes you’ll be fine! And even though we all know that life and business really aren’t that way, too often we find ourselves looking for that “magic pill” that will solve our problems and make things alright AND right away!

In his book On Leading Change, Harvard Business School professor and author Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes, “Years of study and experience show that the things that sustain change are not bold strokes but long marches—the independent, discretionary, and ongoing efforts of people throughout the organization.” I don’t know about you, but “long marches” and “ongoing efforts” sound a lot like Moe’s “step-by-step, inch-by-inch” to me.

So, whether you are looking to develop new skills within yourself or to bring change to your company, please stop shopping for magic answers and instant remedies. Rather, we should listen to the advice of those three wacky “management gurus” from years past: “Step by step…inch by inch.”

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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