A recent Easter egg hunt revealed a surprise even sweeter than chocolate – the discovery of how to make more sales with fewer resources, while making more profit in less time.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”, purrs the Cheshire Cat in Alice of Wonderland.
I look at things a different way: If you don’t know what you’re trying to fix, doing nothing feels like the perfect solution.
Your pressing problem might not be immediately obvious. Which one to choose?
Obviously, there’s the whole ‘too busy’ thing. Too many clients and customers, not enough resources. Who needs to pick up the slack? Well that’s you, of course.
More money would be high up the list. You wouldn’t be greedy, of course. Just a little bank account boost to help take the weight off your shoulders.
Then there’s time: The one thing you never have enough of. Waking up every morning, thinking, “I didn’t sleep enough”, then going to bed every night muttering, “I didn’t do enough”.
Whatever problem you believe you face, the easiest solution is ‘do nothing’, followed by telling yourself: ‘it will sort itself out eventually’.
I’ve spent years perfecting both these approaches: I am a male, after all.
But, if you’re prepared to undertake a little journey of discovery, there is another way to achieve outcomes you seek in business and in life.
The secret lies in the most unlikely of places … an Easter egg hunt.
The chocolate anticlimax
Let’s pretend we all took a proper break during Easter, like we promised we would.
When I paused from my one-man, chocolate-fuelled mission to contract early onset-diabetes, I saw my children in the garden, on their quest for hidden Easter eggs.
In that moment I received a priceless lesson in sales, money and time.
Observe children on an Easter egg hunt … You will see excitement, curiosity, joy and delight. They’re empowered by this wondrous journey of discovery.
When the search is over, they sit down to eat the chocolate. Their energy drops. Eating the eggs almost feels like a chore. It’s an anticlimax.
And herein lies our first lesson: It was never about the OUTCOME – It was always about the DISCOVERY.
In our goal-based society, it’s too easy to get fixated on the destination. We’re so busy aiming for the top of the mountain that we keep tripping over pebbles in our path.
Stop looking for the big goal, just focus on the next step. You’ll get where you need to go even faster.
(Don’t) follow the white rabbit
During this particular Easter egg adventure, children aren’t worried about ‘how they’re coming across’.
They’re not panicking because they only allocated 45 minutes to this particular activity but it’s actually taking an hour and a half.
They don’t fear they must ‘provide significant value up-front’ before they deserve any Easter eggs.
They don’t say they ‘really wanted’ to undertake this quest, but capacity challenges and resource constraints meant it couldn’t happen.
You won’t get an unexpected invoice next month because the kids were terrible at estimating their time investments.
The tears only happen when they start stressing about how many eggs ‘other people’ are getting … but when they focus on their own basket, they do just fine.
The message is clear: If we start paying too much attention to the competition / colleagues / other members of the leadership team / business coaches / the neighbours, we come unstuck.
Trust yourself a little more. You’ve felt lost before, but you’ve always found a way out of the darkness.
As Alice says, when she tries to escape Wonderland, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
The egg-sell-ent adventure
Like all good things, Easter egg hunts must come to an end.
Kids being kids, they always want more.
However, if you listen closely (there’s a lesson in itself).
Children don’t ask for more chocolate.
They ask for another Easter Egg hunt.
The teaching here is to detach ourselves from the need to GET MORE EGGS.
Whether you want to achieve more sales, greater profits, or just a little breathing space, ‘outcome indifference’ is a powerful tool. It sounds like a paradox – being indifferent to that which you desire the most – but it works.
You only find something when you stop frantically searching for it.
Who would you rather be someone who was stomping around their garden, digging holes with a shovel, wild eyes blazing, muttering about ‘need to get more eggs this month’?
Or the individual who was inviting people on an adventure? Someone who approached the task at hand with playful curiosity, no particular outcome in mind apart from finding some hidden treasure.
None of this is supposed to be hard. We just delight in making life difficult for ourselves.
If you get the discovery wrong, you’ll never find the Easter eggs … even if they’re right in front of you.
Remember, it’s not about how hard you’re searching; It’s about knowing where to look.
Through the looking glass
Whether you’re looking for money, time, freedom or chocolate, be careful what you wish for.
Remember, you can have too much of a good thing.
And once you get your hands on that thing you seek, you realise it doesn’t actually unlock your freedom from the rabbit hole.
Perhaps the Cheshire Cat was right after all, it doesn’t really matter which path you take … any path is better than ‘do nothing’ or ‘change nothing’.
Lead. Explore. Take the first step, and you might be surprised who follows you.
Just remember, everyone wants to go on a quest.
No-one likes a boring hunt.