A question every entrepreneur must answer
Jim was a cigarette smoking, schlub of a guy. He doused himself in old man aftershave, slicked back his receding hairline, and viewed the world through glasses that always seemed a little smeared, literally and figuratively. Jim was a nice guy, and he was a pretty good guy. But he couldn’t quite make things work. He bounced from job to job, always with good intentions, but seldom any results.
Jim was comfortable where he was. He never showed ambition or action to go any further. I met him early in my entrepreneurial career through a close friend and colleague and was willing to give him a chance once or twice.
I liked Jim. I did. But both times I had to let him go. He was just plain lazy and could never quite get it together. He was the kind of guy you had to push to do anything — a drain on the company and the relationship. But Jim always seemed to understand and we remained on good terms. We even stayed friends. So I wasn’t surprised when he came to my office one day where I operated my community newspaper.
He sat down, his big frame filling the seat. He looked at me through the same dirty lenses and he grinned, “How’s it going?”
I rested my hands on the arms of my desk chair, relaxing into the conversation. “It’s going really well. I wish I had one more salesperson to take us over the top, but other than that, I think we’re in a good place.”
Jim nodded, and with a little twinkle in his eye he said, “Why don’t you just hire me?”
He spread out his hands to present himself as a prize.
My eyebrows shot from their perch. Someone could’ve knocked me off my chair! Is this guy serious?
I regained my composure and let his suggestion settle between us for a moment.
Then looking him dead in the eye, I asked him, “Would you hire you?”
His lips turned up into a slow and porky smile. He shook his head, “No.” Jim knew exactly who he was, but he had zero desire to change. I lifted my hands and laughed. He had made the decision for me. He wouldn’t be joining my team anytime soon again.
Jim was always willing, and he talked a decent talk. But in the end, he just couldn’t take it all the way. He knew who he was, but as he left my office I was reminded that knowing our faults isn’t enough. We need to be willing to apply ourselves to the discomfort of change if we’re to reach another level. For whatever reason, Jim had no desire to do so, or lacked the capacity to ask one simple question, “How?”