During some of my speeches, I do this exercise where I speak about the difference between “trying” and “doing.” It begins with asking everyone in the audience to raise their arms. Once they’re all high in the air, I ask, “Did anyone try?”
“No,” they answer. They didn’t try. They just did what I had asked.
At that point, I select a “volunteer” to come up in front of the group and stand with me. Traditionally, I pick a petite woman and ask her if I can hold down her arms. If she says yes, then I hold them and ask her to try to lift up her arms.
Typically, she can’t because I’ve made sure I’m bigger and stronger. That’s when I ask the audience to brainstorm other ways that she can potentially raise her arms, even though I am holding them down. Someone could come up and remove my hand on her arm, or perhaps that person could help her lift against the pressure that I’m applying, allowing her to eventually be able to raise her arm.
Well, one of the times when I was doing this exercise, I had this petite woman’s arm held down and, when I tell her to try to lift it, she almost does. Ooookay, I think to myself. That’s when I decide that it’s time to sweeten the pot, so I say, “I’ll give you $20 if you can raise your arms”
Much to my disbelief, she eventually breaks free. I laugh and joke about it, improvising as I go because this has never happened to me. That’s when she reveals that she’s been in weight lifting competitions and could actually lift her 200+ pound husband.
Now, I have to tell you, this woman did not look like she could break my hold. That’s why I picked her, after all, in an effort to prove my point that there is a difference between trying and doing. But she did. What did this teach me?
I learned that it’s super important to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you jump to conclusions, if you judge a book by its cover, then you may just be wrong. Like I was that particular day.
I had judged this woman solely on her size, not even considering the possibility that she could still be strong. I didn’t really peel her stature away enough to even think that there could be some muscle mass hiding under that shorter frame.
When I do this exercise now, I always ask my “volunteer” whether they’re a body builder. Since the answer is generally no, it’s a fun way to get the audience to laugh. But what they don’t realize is that I’m actually checking and double checking this aspect because I want to know exactly what I’m getting into, hopefully avoiding the same mistake again.
Think about this as you go through your own life. Instead of taking a quick glance at someone or something and jumping to a conclusion, make it a point to look a little longer so you’re able to actually see things you might have missed had you not taken the time.
In business, this is especially important, like when you’re working to accurately identify your target clients. Sometimes they’re not at all like what you envisioned. Looking a little longer also helps you avoid the people who aren’t in your intended audience, the ones who will never purchase your goods or products, no matter how hard you push.
This requires taking a closer and less-judgmental look at those around you, but it’s a look worth taking because then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into. This can save you an awful lot of time and, as in my case, a little embarrassment too.