Remember Don Quixote who jousted with windmills? The image evokes a noble but losing battle. There’s also the old song Windmills of Your Mind, homage to the thoughts on the edge of waking and sleeping, ideas that go round and round in your head.
Recently, I saw a rather dangerous combination of the two ideas that, unfortunately, is all too common among business people. It’s the vicious cycle of attract/repel that keeps some people frozen in place, never able to make true progress.
Twice now I’ve had business owners seek me out for my opinion on marketing and ask for my advice. However, as soon as I toss out a few ideas, the windmills crank up and the negative winds start to blow. Every suggestion or idea is met with a reason why it can’t work.
One person got quite heated about it, declaring that it was impossible to market in her industry for a variety of reasons. Now true, that particular industry has more hurdles than most, but as I pointed out to this person, some of the largest companies in that field do have a blogging and social media presence. She immediately proceeded to tell me what it would work for them but not for her. She was so busy defending her position that nothing was possible that she could not hear anything I said.
In the other case, outdated assumptions severely limited the person’s options. She was an accountant who wanted to create a package of services/educational products related to estate planning but outside of actual accounting. She came to me to ask how to get people to attend the events she planned to hold. When I started to suggest traditional and new media ways to promote the new package, she told me quite heatedly that accountants don’t advertise, can’t advertise, not by law but by convention. Funny, I heard that line of thinking from physicians 25 years ago, and now physician advertising (tasteful, understated but still promotional) is quite common. I’ve also seen similar low-key but effective promotion for accountants. And I pointed out that the new package was not accounting. No matter–her mind was made up.
What happened? In both cases, some desire compelled these two people to seek me out for advice. They knew my line of work, so it should have come as no surprise that I suggested ways to market. Yet the windmills of their minds–outdated ideas, critical voices, fears and doubts, were too strong. They were trapped going round and round with old, limiting ideas and fears, unwilling to even consider a new way to approach the situation. They missed the chance to move forward.
How about you? What windmills do you have in your mind? Where are your thoughts trapped by fears, doubts and outdated ideas? They may be costing you valuable opportunities!