Feet in the sand - head in the sky

If you are a disaster restoration contractor who is struggling with average results, there's a good possibility you're caught in "the middle," and you know you don't want to be there.

By the “middle,” it’s likely you are too focused on the details that you can’t or don’t want to change. The reality is, you should have trusted people to handle those daily little details that consume your valuable time. It’s the 99 percent of the things you confront every day that have nothing to do with what you want out of your company. I’m betting the minutiae you deal with each day, doesn’t enhance your day, nor does it allow you to focus on what really matters for your business.

These daily annoyances or interruptions can be time-wasting, minor hassles that others can more effectively handle, freeing you up to oversee the very important business decisions.  Many times these interruptions involve politics or drama within the office. When you are “stuck in the middle” of all this, it is probable your level of success will hit a ceiling far lower than you wanted. Hopefully, you aren’t satisfied with being average and gambling that your business won’t go sour.  Instead, you need to ignore the middle and take a healthy dose of what I call the "sky and sand."

Understanding your sky will give you the perspective of what your actions are intended to lead to. The sand is the basic subject-matter expertise that allows you to execute to reach the sky. The sand is about the hard work you need to put in as a specialist in your field.  Your “sand” is knowing your craft. Know the correct business thinking. Know the fine points on how to get there. Ignore everything in the middle.

When people ask me for advice, they're usually seeking the sand when they should be in the sky. One of my former bosses used to say “I want to look at it from 10,000 feet.” This can be the winning tactic without realizing that it's the big-picture strategy which can put you in the best position to succeed. I get tactical questions like "Dick, how should I use Facebook to make my restoration (or plumbing) business highly successful and profitable?" Unfortunately, tactics will take you only so far, so you need to think about the bigger picture. Often, the answer to a sand question is a sky strategy.

Often, these very same people forget to raise their heads while they are in the sand implementing. You see, too much sand time will leave your business without a link or rationale or plan, putting it in an extremely weak position. Take the time to break and look at the overall trends, your competitors, and the market. 

As early as 1998, I had a basic grasp on where the insurance claims industry was headed and began to develop strategies to minimize the potentially damaging programs that were destined to hurt the disaster restoration industry.   I have been fortunate to be on several sides of the industry – enough to know that a different approach was needed.  I saw the sand as quicksand – and decided to use the sky to solve some of the issues.  

The best way to avoid getting marooned in the middle is to create a system to keep yourself in check, one that allows you to periodically assess what you're focused on. Whether this means taking a quick break from work, or having a one-on-one meeting with yourself, take the time to realign with your sky and sand. This should give you the self-awareness you require to ask the correct questions and guarantee you're appropriately positioned. It'll also put you in the right headspace to answer these questions correctly. Start becoming assertive on both the sand and the sky and raise the bar on your thinking, and don’t get caught in in the quicksand. 

 

Author:  Dick Wagner, disaster restoration sales coach and consultant.  AskDickWagner.com