A morbid thought occurs to me sometimes. When I’m driving down the left lane on the interstate, I realize that if I turned the wheel a mere 3 degrees to the left that I would eventually crash my car into the divider wall and die. Every time I start thinking death is so far off—that it’s something that only happens to older people—I realize while barreling down the asphalt trying to get from point A to point B that I’m only 3 degrees away from it.
This past Wednesday, my boyfriend’s mom went into emergency surgery at 2am because of an intestinal blockage. The on-call surgeon came out of the procedure and said that in another 12 hours, the kink in her intestine would have ruptured and chances are high that she wouldn’t have survived. Fortunately, for all of us, she is on the road to recovery. Yet, that got me thinking again about the 3 degrees—12 hours in her case—between life and death.
A seemingly insignificant shift in timing, positioning or direction can make a significant difference in the outcome—good or bad. And it’s not just a matter of life and death. For instance, if you’re traveling on an airplane that’s flying straight from New York City to Los Angeles and the pilot changes the trajectory by 3 degrees, you will end up in San Diego. This small change puts you 120 miles from your desired destination, which I’m guessing is not going to make you a happy traveler.
On the other hand, say you were hopping on a plane from New York City to Washington D.C. A 3 degree shift in your trajectory would take you to Bethesda which is only 7 miles outside of D.C. Annoying, but unlike being 120 miles off course, you’re only a cab ride away.
This example shows that a small 3 degree change can significantly impact your destination down the road, but it’s difficult to see the total effect it will have if you’re just looking for results in the short-term. 3 degree changes impact your life in the long-term, which makes them easy to disregard.
Let’s look at how a 3 degree shift can affect your side business.
If you keep plugging along in your life just focusing on your day job, the bills, a trying to squeeze in a tiny bit of fun on the weekends, you’re projected to end up no different than you started 10 years down the road. Except that you’ll have more gray hair, feel extremely deflated and wonder how your life ended up so mediocre. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it?
Now, what if you made a 3 degree shift? This could be any small change, habit or new practice for your business that you incorporate in your daily routine. Maybe you start making 1 sales call a day. Maybe you spend 1 hour networking on social media sites. Perhaps you spend every lunch break reading helpful marketing books. A 3 degree shift can come in many different forms depending on your ultimate goal.
In the short term, these small changes aren’t going to appear to make much difference in your business. In fact, it might be hard to stick with them because they aren’t showing instantaneous results. Yet, in the long-term these small changes are going to pay off in a major way. You are going to end up 120 miles away from your mediocre destiny. You are going to be a successful business owner with a thriving business. You will work yourself out of a day job. You will have more than enough money to pay the bills and do everything you want.
In business, altering your trajectory by 3 degrees can make a huge difference in the resulting outcome. There are thousands of ways to make small shifts in your life that will lead you towards your desired destination. The following are a few examples of small habits/changes/practices you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis that will positively impact your business in the long-run and keep you on the path to reach your ultimate goals…
- Work on your business for at least 1 hour per day no matter what
- Get support from a mentor/friend/mastermind group/etc
- Read helpful business, personal development and marketing books
- Stop watching TV
- Listen to business podcasts
- Be productive and proactive with social media
- Work on your communication skills
- Learn as much as you can in every situation
- Don’t judge anyone or anything
- Save money—pack your lunch, skip Starbucks, buy only what you need, etc
- Focus on contribution and providing value
- Listen more than you talk and learn to ask the right questions
- Exercise and connect with nature
- Be trustworthy—say what you mean and follow thru
- Be present—stop multi-tasking and live in the moment
As you can see, these are not life or death changes. Chances are that none of them will instantly skyrocket your success and send you skipping to your boss’s office with your resignation letter in hand. Instead, they will sustain your success—as a person and as a business owner—in the long-run. They will be the difference between you moving towards the life that you want and staying stuck right where you are. Remember—small hinges move big doors. Don’t underestimate the effect a mere 3 degree shift can make in the end.