The Power of Leaving the Building to Go and to See for Yourself.
The most important work that any of us can do in business is to be in front of customers as often as possible. There is nothing more important than accepting the truth that customers and sales are the lifeblood of all business. Without customers, none of us are here. We’re all out on the streets.
I enjoy talking about the wonderful Toyota Motors Corp. maxim to leave the building to go and see for yourself. Leaving the building is a philosophy designed to get to the heart of the problem with the people closest to the problem in order to efficiently and effectively solve the problem. Wouldn’t everyone want to do that?! It turns out that, No, not everyone wants to do that.
Leaving the Building to go and see for yourself takes Courage.
It turns out that not everyone is up for leaving the building to go and to see for themselves. It turns out that leaving the building takes Chutzpah. It turns out that leaving the building takes effort and enthusiasm for the unknown road. It turns out that leaving the building, strangely, takes courage.
Let’s look at it from the opposite side, staying in the building. Inside the building, you are comparatively safe. You are cocooned. You are protected from the outside elements, and I’m not just talking about the nasty weather. I’m also talking about the nasty field problems and the people they are associated with. I’m talking about seeing and solving difficult problems at the source and taking them head-on with courage and conviction in your ability to figure things out. I’m talking about meeting with customers to see what other problems you can help them solve, and to see where there may be gaps with their own customers in their business. All a part of leaving the building to go and see for yourself. Anybody find this appealing? You still with me?
It is the unknown that scares us.
The part about leaving the building that scares people the most is the unknown. It is the uncertainty. People don’t like that. They see that as darkness. They perceive that as potentially harmful. And what do we do with potentially harmful things? We avoid them! Hey, it is far safer inside the building here where while we may not control much, at least we have some semblance of control. It might only be a little 4’ x 4’ ‘ 4’ area, but it is ours. Sort of. Kinda. It’s that element of holding onto that tiny amount of control inside the building, and it is the thought of dealing with all those external problems, other peoples’ problems. Eech. Better stay inside where it is safe. Control my area. Keep it clean.
Helping other people solve problems is the very definition of value creation.
Only helping other people solve problems is the very definition of value creation. Yes, people got problems! And it is up to courageous entrepreneurs, sales & marketing pros and engineers to solve them! To show people how to solve them! To leave the building, go and meet the customer where they are, and prove to them how much we Care! And it is hard! It is hard work. It Ain’t easy, which is why most people don’t want to do it. Most people want to stay inside the building and only deal with their own problems and gossip about the problems of others. This is perceived as WAY easier, the path of least resistance.
Most people are happy with the inertia of staying inside the building where it is safe. Happy being cocooned.
The aforementioned are the reasons why my marketing and salesmanship of the Toyota Motor Corp.’s maxim to anyone who will listen is unpopular — few people want to join me on this Mission. Most people are happy with the inertia of staying inside the building, happy being cocooned. Well, pseudo-happy. At least it is safe here, they think. At least I have a modicum of a morsel of control here, they think.
To these folks’ credit, it helps to have thick skin and a toughened up attitude to leave the building. In fact, after you do this practice regularly, you will have far thicker skin as well as a far tougher attitude. Leaving the building regularly will help you harden up mentally. You won’t be soft any more. You will change. There is no doubt about it. Only you will change for the better.
You come to realize you don’t need the softness of the cocoon. You don’t need the reassurance of your modicum of a morsel of control inside the building. You come to realize you don’t need a lot of things to go and help other people solve their problems except an open mind, a Can-Do attitude & spirit, a bright Outlook & disposition, and a willingness to be helpful and to persevere through the obstacles, to keep going.
Here’s what you don’t need. You need far less than you think.
You need far less than you think. You don’t need new tech. You don’t need more teammates. You don’t need a new boss. You don’t need an MBA or MFA. You don’t need another guru. You don’t need another seminar. You don’t need to ask permission. You don’t need to go begging. You don’t need more money to be helpful. You just need a willingness to show up, and to be ready to serve.
Leaving the building to go and to see for yourself is not for everyone. It is for the adventurous among us. It is for the spirited among us. It is for the curious among us. It is for the ambitious among us. It is for those willing to serve among us. Which will you be today?