My friend Bob Terson just wrote a blog post about the difficulty he had trying to buy a bicycle at Toys R Us for his grandson. The bike they wanted was not in stock, they would not sell them the floor model, and they could not figure out a simple way to get one from another store. The funny thing is that none of what he was asking the store to do was really that difficult, and I suspect that they knew exactly what had to be done—yet they could not just do it.
Billions of words are written every year about business and personal productivity; I’ve added my part, but I would be the first to admit that very little is a breakthrough that readers don’t already know about. There are only so many things you can say about being customer-focused, and about giving lower level employees the power to make decisions that make sense for the customer at that specific time, yet the gap between knowing what to do and doing it is as vast as ever.
Is there a salesperson left that does not know it’s important to understand your customer’s business, or to ask questions and listen, or to prepare for sales calls? How many actually do it?
It’s kind of like diet books: thousands of new titles come out every year, each claiming that this time it’s really something new and different, and Americans get fatter every year. More knowledge does not automatically translate into results.
Think of it: if people just read one book on dieting and managed to consume fewer calories than they burn, or actually just did what the motivational speaker told them to do, two multi-billion dollar industries would cease to exist overnight.
I’m definitely a big fan of knowledge, don’t get me wrong. But the problem with learning new stuff is that, if you don’t have the time or motivation to implement the basics, why would you do any better with the new stuff? Along those lines, here’s a quote by a Ranger Command Sergeant Major: “It’s still the basics that makes us who we are, hooah. We don’t do anything that the regular Army doesn’t do. We just do it better.”
At this point in my typical article, I’ve laid out the problem and the next step is to make suggestions for what you can do about it. But I’m going to skip the second step.
You already know what to do. Just do it.
 From Sua Sponte: The Forging of a Modern American Ranger, by Dick Couch.