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Business Growth Lessons From A Pencil

18 July 2018

Today’s work desks are so often filled with the most amazing gizmos and gadgets. Stationery companies are starting to shift sales more towards batteries and printer ink instead of hole punches and erasers.

The humble pencil now usually sits abandoned in the pen pot in favour of the keyboard and fancy gel pens.

But when you stop and pick that hardy old pencil back up, you may find it has a few nuggets of wisdom to teach you…

1. Top performance requires a bit of sharpening

Your pencil regales you with tales of when it was young and how it couldn’t possibly have done anything for anyone until it had been ground through a pencil sharpener.

“It was excruciatingly painful,” it says to you. “But it was through constantly removing unnecessary layers, and honing the most essential part of myself to a sharp point, that I became truly useful.”

2. Mistakes are impermanent and natural

“On my back,” your pencil notes in a gravelly, wistful voice, “Was my constant companion, the eraser.”

“It’s inevitable that mistakes happen. But that’s why I was such an incredibly useful piece of equipment. Mistakes are a part of the process of creating something amazing. And you need to be willing to erase your work when you recognise that you’ve done something wrong.”

Failing hard and failing fast is how you succeed. You need to a keep an eye on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it (and what your team is doing through measuring KPIs) so that you can quickly recognise when mistakes have happened and make changes equally quickly.

3. Make your mark on the world

“While mistakes were erasable, there was also always the knowledge that everything I did was making a mark on the world. It was my contribution, visible for everyone to see.”

Your creaky old pencil looks forlorn. “In the end, once I’m done, I’m done. It was therefore always important to keep myself sharp and do the best I can every time my head hit the paper.” It looks proud of itself as it goes on to say, “I’ve done the best job I can do – and there, left behind me, is the evidence of it.”

They say that a life well-lived is one that leaves the world a little bit better than when they came into it. Your business can be that ‘little bit better’ – and building it as an asset rather than a job, can be how you leave a legacy behind.

4. The real you is on the inside

“It took me a long time to really accept this one,” your pencil says with a little twinkle in its tip. “I always looked at all those fancy pencils that had lots of colours on the outside, and just felt so drab with my standard yellow and black exterior. I felt inferior for such a long time.”

“But I quickly realised, it wasn’t those colours that people were looking at. It was those little numbers and letters. HB, 2B – that was what people cared about. Not the colours but the quality of the lead that runs through my core. And I knew then, that that was the part that I should be truly proud of – and to nurture.”

It’s easy to show something to the world, but it is the part that’s inside you gives the ultimate results. If you spend your time focused on the surface-level stuff, you probably won’t get far. Shift your focus to what’s inside you and you’ll find yourself sharper and more productive.

As you slowly put the pencil back down in the pen pot, you see him nod to himself. “Yes, time for me to go back to watching you take over the digital world, dear friend. But I hope you remember the lessons from my time with you, and that you’ll carry them through into your future advent

If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.

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