Grow or die

“Either you grow or you die.”Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza

Many years ago when I was in the real estate side of the restaurant business, I was attending the National Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place in Chicago. This is an annual event that is a must stop for learning the current state of affairs in the business, as well discovering what new, cutting edge products and services were available. The show continues to be held in May of every year at the same location.

I was in a breakout meeting for real estate executives who were responsible for acquiring locations for their companies. It was in that meeting that one of those “I’ll never forget” moments took place. As I took notes and looked around the room, it was apparent that very few of the attendees, beside myself, were taking notes and trying to add to their knowledge base. There was one exception. He was clearly the oldest guy in the room and he was far ahead of my note production. Based upon his age and very stately presence, I guessed that he could have been delivering the material, rather than absorbing it. Being curious, as the meeting drew to a close, I went over and introduced myself. I asked him why he was so intent in gathering the information from the seminar. He told me that he never failed to walk away from this type of event with at least one or two gems and taking notes helped him solidify ideas. He then introduced himself. It turns out he was J. Willard Marriott, Sr., the founder of Marriott International!

WOW! Here was an international success still looking for ideas that could help him and his organization continue to lead the market! If there is a key to that kind of success I am convinced that you wake up every morning to learn and improve, both professionally as well as personally.



On the flip side of this story is a more current example from one of our leadership training programs. By the way, this is an example of a situation that we do not see that often; however, it does happen. An “up-and-coming leader” from one of our client organizations was directed to our program by her boss. This up-and-comer had an almost incredible sense of herself. Over the course of an eight-week training regimen, every idea that came out in the class was one that she could write the book on. For example, when asked to try a different approach in dealing with a tough people issue, she would either say it would not work or she had already tried and done it that way. Her receptivity to new ideas and new approaches to being a better leader was almost 100% blocked by her conviction that she knew it all.

Maybe you know someone like this. They are not always the most pleasant to be around, socially or professionally. They have also fallen into a very rigid trap — the death trap. My dear, departed mother echoed the words of Tom Monaghan above when she said people who are not receptive to new ideas might as well be called the “walking dead.” They are not capable of growth. In fact, in many cases they refuse a new idea, even if it would help them.

So, what to do, what to do?

  1. Wake up each morning with a goal of being just a little bit smarter than the day before.
  2. Never, never, never become a member of the walking dead. Zombies are good for movies and TV, not life.
  3. Catch yourself and others when you hear any of the following phrases: we tried that before; we’ve never done that before; we did all right without it; it’s impossible; that’s not practical for our company; not that again; etc., etc., etc.
  4. Finally, use Dale Carnegie’s words as guide to your continued growth. “Keep your mind open to change all the time. Welcome it. Court it. It is only by examining and reexamining your opinions and ideas that you can progress.” — Dale Carnegie

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