by Brad Roderick
Some years ago, I was in a small town in southern Mexico enjoying time as a tourist. I’d spent the day doing all the things tourists aren’t supposed to do. I’d wandered around areas off of any beaten path, I’d eaten food prepared in, let’s say, a very rudimentary manner, and enjoyed a cold drink with no regard to the ice that the bottles had been sitting in. I wasn’t completely clueless or entirely ignorant of potential consequences. Foolish? Maybe. Sometimes there’s a certain degree of risk in great adventure. I saw shrimp that were being raised in canals and termite tubes the size of subway tunnels. I felt mosquitoes the size of small planes and marveled at the sudden expanse of beach as I stepped out of the jungle. I rode in the back of a truck with nothing more than a hand loop to keep passengers from getting ejected as it zoomed down a highway. And now, a few years later, its funny what sights remain the clearest, what memories remain the strongest.
One of those memories is asking my “self-appointed friend for the day” about all of the unfinished buildings I saw throughout the villages. Building after building sprouted spikes of rebar sticking from the top floor. So many buildings left incomplete, and they certainly didn’t appear to be new construction. If I had noticed this in only one area or even in a few isolated areas, I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought.
In response to my question, my friend laughed and explained that only “completed” structures were fully taxed. Aha! A reason that seemed both ludicrous and plausible at the same time. Whether it made sense or not, I at least had an answer. I had gained a nugget of information and possibly some knowledge. The INFORMATION was about Mexico and construction, the KNOWLEDGE was something different. What my friend really taught me that day was 1) sometimes you do dumb things and get lucky; but more importantly 2) the importance of not being finished; and 3) to remain infinitely curious, you never know what fun factoid you may pick up.
I will leave you to your own interpretation of where No. 1 above may lead you, which I hope is far beyond the scope of this, or any, article and certainly my wisdom. As for No. 2, the importance of not being finished, let’s look at this and how it applies to our personal and professional life.
Four Areas That Should Remain Unfinished:
- Professional Development. Hopefully our lack of completion isn’t quite as apparent to others as big pieces of steel sticking out of a building, but it should be just as blatantly obvious to us. We should see ourselves as incomplete projects. Whether it’s a new lesson to be learned, a new idea to be understood, a new market to serve, a new skill, etc., we seek to continually add on to our foundation.
- Personal Development. It can be hard to separate “professional” from “personal” in the context of development and growth. Who is to say that the camera class you take doesn’t benefit the way you bring creativity to your job duties? Is the time you spend volunteering at the homeless shelter teaching you compassion and empathy that will serve you from 9 to 5? Maybe that meditation class can help relieve the stress of your new job. As we have become more electronically tied to our jobs over the last decade and have seen a blurring of “work hours” vs. “free hours,” maybe there really isn’t a difference between personal and professional development. Maybe this simply becomes, “life development.”
- Relationships. There may be times when it is prudent to consider a relationship, “finished,” but in general, we want to continue to nurture, grow and develop relationships more deeply. Of all the relationships I can think of, there isn’t one that I don’t want see continue to develop, certainly not to be classified as “completed” and left behind.
- The Close. This one is specific for salespeople: Traditionally viewed as a specific event at the end of the sales process, in reality the close is simply another step in the journey of attracting, acquiring and retaining customers. I suppose that if you sell magazine subscriptions in a hard sell/one-call-close environment, then you would actually finish upon the close. For the rest of us who live in a B2B repeat-over-time revenue world, we are never finished. Top professionals are constantly on the lookout for ways to deliver more value to their customers and prospects. Deliver value, more value, more value, then some more value … there is no end point, no point of completion.
Some of you have already logged onto your favorite research tool to see if the whole “unfinished due to tax rules” is true or not. I have done my own research and the answers appear to be inconclusive. Debate remains over whether these buildings are left unfinished as a way to skirt taxation or simply to prepare for additional construction in the future. Either way, naked rebar is a great reminder to leave some things unfinished to allow for future growth. And do me a favor; don’t send me the definitive answer to the debate. It’s something I prefer to leave unfinished.
Brad Roderick is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the imaging industry as an author, trainer and speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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