26 Jan 2023

Your Answers Have Changed

Your situation is the same. In many areas of your life, your answers have changed. What was true and valid a year ago is either partially or totally obsolete today.

Your cherished ideas from a year or two ago, or even a month ago, are no longer valid or relevant in the turbulent markets of today. In technology, for example, they say that a product is already obsolete when it first hits the shelves.

By the time it comes to the market, it is already being replaced either by the company that developed it or by its competitors. The shelf life of technology is shorter and shorter. It is the same with information and competition. The speed at which they are changing is almost breathtaking.

Change Is Faster and Faster

We are living in the fastest-changing, most disruptive, and most turbulent period in all of human history, except for tomorrow and next week and next year. Right up to the middle of the twentieth century, it was quite common for a person to come out of school, join a company, start a job, and stay there for life.

Today, as many as 40 percent of adults are what are called contingency workers—freelancers who go from job to job throughout their working lives as independent contractors. Many of them will never work for a company, except temporarily.

Your Business Model

A business model is defined as the complete system, from beginning to end, by which a company produces and sells a product or service and generates profits. There are at least fifty-five different business models that a company can use.

Trying to achieve results with the wrong business model for your current market can lead to declining sales and profitability or even corporate collapse. In 2007,

when Apple released the iPhone, the senior executives at BlackBerry dismissed it as a toy and assumed that it would only appeal to young people who wanted to communicate with their friends.

Within five years, its market share among business owners of cell phones dropped from 49 percent to 0.4 percent, and the company has largely gone out of business.

The 80/20 Rule and Income

Today, many people have obsolete skills; they are being replaced by people with better and more appropriate skills that are in higher demand. Gary Becker, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, reported in the Wall Street Journal about a study on income growth.

What Becker found in research at the University of Chicago was that the average income of people in the bottom 80 percent increased at about 3 percent per year, just equal to or slightly ahead of the rate of inflation.

However, the incomes of people in the top 20 percent were increasing at an average of 11 percent per year, enabling them to double their income every six or seven years and move into the upper-middle class or even the wealthy classes over the course of their working lifetimes.

What was the major difference between 20 percent and 80 percent? It was the commitment to continuous learning and upgrading of skills. People in the top 20 percent bought all the books, attended all the courses, listened to all of the audio programs, and continually sought ways to do their jobs better, cheaper, and faster.

The Race Is On

No one stays in the same place for very long. If you are not continually upgrading your knowledge and skills, you are not staying even. You are actually falling further and further behind, while people who are aggressive about continuous learning are moving further and faster ahead.

Most people today are stuck in a rut, and the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you’re stuck in a rut, I hope a wagon wheel comes along to motivate you out of it.”

Open Up Your Thinking

There are several powerful, practical thinking tools that you can use to unlock your creativity, expand your thinking, and move out of the comfort zone. The all-around champion tool to change your perspective and to develop higher levels of flexibility is “zero-based thinking.”

Zero-based thinking comes from zero-based accounting. In zero-based accounting, you challenge every expense at the beginning of every accounting period.

You ask not whether you should increase or decrease a particular expense but whether or not you should be spending money in this area at all. In zero-based thinking, you ask the brutal question, “Is there anything that we are doing today that, knowing what we now know, we wouldn’t start up again if we had to do it over?”

Start with Your Relationships

In zero-based thinking, start with your relationships of all kinds. Is there any person in your business or personal life that you would not get involved with again if you had to do it over?

Is there anyone in your business whom you would not hire, assign or delegate tasks to, promote, or even go to work for today knowing what you now know? If there is someone whom you would not get involved with again today, the only question is,

“How do you end this situation, and how fast?” Can you guess how many of your decisions will turn out to be wrong in the fullness of time? According to the American Management Association, fully 70 percent of decisions made in the world of work, and probably in personal life, turn out to be wrong eventually.

They can be a little bit wrong, a lot wrong, or totally wrong. To develop high levels of flexibility, to perform at your best, you must be prepared to make the three statements of the superior executive.


1. Examine your personal and corporate business model. Ask yourself if there could be a better way for you to generate sales, profitability, and personal income.

2. Apply the KWINK analysis to every part of your business and personal life. “Knowing what I now know, is there anything that I am doing that I would not get into again today if I had it to do over?”

3. What should you do more of, less of, start, or stop altogether to get different and better results?

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