The market for used eclipse sunglasses
It doesn’t matter how many you have.
It doesn’t matter how much you paid for them.
It doesn’t matter how long the line was yesterday…
The market is gone. It’s a sunk cost. Falling in love with what you have and reminding yourself of what it cost you is no help at all.
The same goes for the value of the assets we invested in, the rare skills we used to possess, the position in the marketplace we worked so hard to get.
New days require new decisions.
This is a recent blog post by Seth Godin. I am always amazed by his ability to describe a seemingly ordinary thing (such as used eclipse sunglasses) in a way that prompts me to extrapolate the idea out to another part of my life.
This post got me thinking about experienced business professionals. We are often thought of as experts in our particular industry and sought out for our wisdom and council by others in our field. Until one day we notice that fewer people are seeking our council, yearning after our wisdom. And then it happens: boom; you’re yesterday’s news. You are the old guy that no one wants to get cornered by in the break-room. You are the elderly lady that people smile at as they hurry by, never stopping to engage in conversation.
Why did this have to happen?
I was once on top of my game; what happened to me?
I was my marketplace leader; I had all of the skills that everyone else wanted.
Where did it all go wrong?
For so many of us, it went wrong when we decided that we had attained that pinnacle of achievement: “I am on top now, so I don’t need to keep trying to get to the top; I’m already here!” Once we make the conscious decision to change from the hunter (striving to reach the top) to the hunted (the person on the top), we start down the road to eventually becoming the trophy for the still striving hunter.
All too often, we become complacent, content in the (misguided) belief that we possess all the necessary skills to be successful. Unfortunately, the thing that got us to that point, our voracious appetite for obtaining new skills and increasing our abilities, now resides in some other person, and they are now hunting us, trying to knock us off our pedestal.
By resting on our laurels, we have guaranteed that time will pass us by, as new methods, techniques and knowledge slowly make our abilities seem ordinary, even antiquated. Adam Kirk Smith said “Contentment (being happy while doing something) and complacency (being happy while doing nothing) are entirely different” things. There is nothing wrong with being content, and enjoying some of the fruits of our labor. Becoming complacent is a sure path to personal and professional ruin.
Babe Ruth famously said that “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” If we strive to maintain that hunter attitude, never settling into the comfort zone of having all the skills that we need and thinking that we don’t need to keep getting better, then we will never have to worry about being the hunted. As long as we stay on the offensive, and keep bettering ourselves and our skills, then we will always have a chance to become a better person, a better business owner and a better version of us.
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