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    Just Because You’re Lost Doesn’t Mean Your Compass is Broken

    March 1, 2021
    You will find your way if you know where to look. Look for the way forward!

    The last time I lost a map-reading contest was in The Boy Scouts. 

    Actually, my son was in the scouts, and I was “helping” his patrol with a map-reading contest. His patrol, “The Owl Patrol,” constantly yelled their mantra, “Hooty who – Hooty who!” as we worked our way through a mountainous course following the map our assistant scoutmaster had given our patrol.  Each of the four patrols were given different coordinates that, of course, all led to the same “buried treasure.” 

    My job as an assistant scoutmaster was simply to keep the boys from falling off the mountain, but not to intervene. I did scowl when I saw them making poor choices, so I guess I wasn’t totally unbiased.

    Invariably, after about an hour, all the patrols found the treasure. But of course, once the first group of boys got there, everyone knew where it was so many of the patrols hurried to the end. However, you had to mark each point along the way, or you were disqualified.  My boys were not first, but they were close. 

    The feisty Fox Patrol didn’t even come close, having not found even their first way-point.  One of the boys in the fox patrol hollered out, “It’s not fair! My compass is broken!”

    For many years, the boys had fun jeering each other with comments like, “What’s the matter?  Compass broken?” All in fun, of course.

    Recently, my wife and I watched the movie “The Edge” with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. A great outdoor survival movie.

    At one point, they were very discouraged when, after a terribly hard march through the most rugged wilderness, they found themselves right back where they had started. Being stalked by a very large, ferocious grizzly bear who had caught the scent of their blood made the situation quite perilous, to say the least.

    One man screamed out in panic, “Obviously, that direction is not south!” loudly pointing and waving, “so I guess that’s south, or that, or maybe that’s south!”  he hollered while wildly pointing around.

    At that point, the character Anthony Hopkins was playing made this statement: “Just because you’re lost doesn’t mean your compass is broken!”  Wow, that’s powerful advice.

    How many times have you and I thought for sure our “compass” was broken?  Thought all the advice and direction given to us by our mentors and other contractors, and even our inner guides, was wrong - all wrong. 

    How many times have you and I thought for sure our “compass” was broken?  Thought all the advice and direction given to us by our mentors and other contractors, and even our inner guides, was wrong - all wrong. 

    Have you watched a child, or have you been that child, hollering at your parents or older siblings when trying to do something? “I can’t do it! No one can do it!  It’s too hard!”  Or like my 3-year-old grandson when I put him on the hood of a car with a garden hose and told him to wash the car.  He cried out, “I cannot do this thing!”  I, of course, was watching out for his safety, but also helping him to develop an attitude that I knew would be a big help in carrying him through life. 

    Just because you are lost doesn’t mean your compass is broken. I am reminded of that every time I think something won’t work.  It means “right is right.” I do volunteer teaching in high schools, and have many times made this declaration to the students. “Right is right, whether you agree with it or not.”

    If your business is not working or frustrating, don’t despair. Look for the way forward!

    There is a north, and if you need to go there, well, you’d better find it. 

    One contractor told me last week, “the truth is Rodney, I hate this business…” That’s not a very promising statement for a man running a business that was founded 40 some years earlier by his father.  So, if your business is not working or frustrating, don’t despair. Look for the way forward!

    What excites me most talking to contractors, which I do most days, is knowing that they just need a push in the right direction, just a little help, so they can learn to trust their compass again.  Many get so distracted with daily frustrations that they forget to stay on the path.  I am a true believer in getting on the right path, then learning how to stay on that path. 

    The complaints I hear most often are, “I can’t get good techs.  Customers don’t want to pay.  Our competitors are dumbing down the industry.”

    Here are the four compass points that will change your life…oh, and your business.

    North:  The north point on your compass should tell you that you need the one thing that can get you to the next point.  Money!  You must maximize each opportunity in front of a customer.  Not hard to do if you just have a simple process.

    East:  The east point on you compass should tell you that you must do whatever it takes to keep the calls coming in so that North (money) won’t get lost.  We usually call this marketing.  But don’t waste money; learn a unique skill of targeted marketing.  Only market to the streets you want to work on.

    South: It all goes south when everyone quits and you feel alone.  Let the south compass point remind you to count the cost of every single team member, and don’t cheat yourself by hiring or keeping the wrong person.  Many can be fixed, but many need to go.  Oh, and don’t ask your wife to quit her job as a teacher or nurse to help you run your business.  Don’t kill the golden goose that’s providing insurance, vacation time, and money while you experiment with your dreams.  That time may come, but don’t rush it.  At least not until you have about $200,000 in a savings account.

    West: “Go west young man,” the call of the American Settlers.  Let your west compass point remind you to design your end plan.  How do you want to end up?  A plumber told me last week that he wanted to end up on a yacht.  I like that, and it’s easily done if you stay on the path—the right path.  Sometimes, your compass will tell you to get off the path you are on and chart a new one. 

    Make right decisions, get help; call someone if you need a better map, but:
    “Just because you’re lost doesn’t mean your compass is broken.”

    Rodney Koop

    (706)581-0622, call anytime or email [email protected].

    Pricing enthusiast Rodney Koop is the founder and CEO of The New Flat Rate, a home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors