After a whirlwind vacation, I am back in the real world. We traveled in this order from Winnipeg, to Regina, to Saskatoon, to Dawson Creek, to Muncho Lake, to Whitehorse, to Skagway, to Dawson City, over Top of The World Highway, to Chicken, to Fairbanks, to Anchorage, to Haines Junction, to Watson Lake, to Smithers, to Airdrie / Calgary, and back to Winnipeg. We traveled by car because the goal was to drive the Alaska Canada Highway which starts in Dawson Creek, BC and ends in Delta Junction, AK. It was a great reminder that the world is much more expansive that we think. To sum it up, we traveled through 4 provinces (twice), 1 territory (twice), semi-circumnavigated 1 state, and 2 countries. Just a little under, 12,000 kms in 13 days.
Do you ever wonder if we think too small? After this trip, you bet that I do.
Today’s topic was originally entitled “Know Your Enemy” which would be helpful to a warrior. However, in today’s world, it is probably better referred to as “Know Your World, Know Your Environment, Know Your Product (what are you selling?), or Know Your Stakeholders (family, friends, enemies, customers, suppliers, competition, and so on)”. There are too many of us who start a journey without scouting the environment. A reminder for me was the drive over The Top of the World highway. It is an excursion not for the faint of heart. If I had known there was going to be dense fog for about 1/3 of the journey, I might have had second or third thoughts. Look it up. You will see what I mean. The Google Earth view doesn’t do it anywhere close to justice.
We have to rediscover the world of wonder and exploration that we leave behind in our childhood. I am a grandparent to three amazing kids. As frustrating as it is sometimes, they have no fear of exploration. They want to know everything about everything.
Adults, on the other hand, have become conditioned to assuming that we already know everything that we need to know. We don’t ask “WHY” often enough. In fact, the lessons of the 5 W’s that I learned as a child are not very often used. You know the W’s that I mean: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. We need to rediscover our inner Watson and Holmes, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, or any other detective.
To be a successful warrior, you have to be willing to learn one more thing every day than you knew the day before.
Here are some questions that you could ask yourself. They include but are in no way limited to the following:
- Do you know the terrain? Are you meeting in their office, a third-party site, or your office? Which place could provide you with the most comfort and position?
- Do you know the consumer(s)? I don’t mean from just a sales perspective. It is critical to know how the product or service will be used. Without imagination in the product use arena, Bill Engvall wouldn’t have a comedy routine about Warning Labels.
- Do you know their wants, needs, and expectations? Wants are often negotiable. Needs are non-negotiable. Wants and needs drive requirements. Expectations are unwritten requirements.
- Do you know how the consumers view the value proposition? Think about the people who serve in various capacities in our societies. They see a defined value proposition in their work. Sometimes, it is as simple as saving lives, serving justice, or ensuring that we live free.
- Do you know the market? The market can drive compliance issues, language issues, packaging issues, and so on.
- Do you know how the product or service is made or created? Have you ever walked the plant floor, worked in the front line at the bank, answered the phone for the receptionist at your place of work, sat in a classroom to audit a class, or any of the places where the revenue is created in your world.
Several of the places on our journey were started in the late 1800s when there was no roads, rail or other easy access. The White Pass – Yukon railway follows the path of the stampeders (people looking for gold) from Skagway to the White Horse. It replaced a trail that was used to transport goods and people to the Klondike gold fields. Many people and animals never made it to the other side of those mountains. They did learn what worked and what didn’t. They adjusted to the climate, the environment, the rules, and the rigour of an outdoor life.
Getting to know your environment is important. It is also critical to get to know the world outside your immediate area. The trip through those cities, towns, and villages reinforced for me that there is a risk that we have become too narrow in our views.
My Rule 8 Challenge for you:
- Learn one new thing about your environment, a family member, a friend, a colleague, or the world we live in.
- What can you use the information for?
- As always, celebrate.
If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you will never understand how the other half lives. Learn something new about your world today. Being uninformed is a personal decision, we must be accountable for being informed even about topics that make us uncomfortable.
Have an absolutely amazing week.
Quotes of the Week
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu
“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” Terry Pratchett