Quality Over Quantity

LessIsMore.jpg

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Choose quality over quantity.” It’s often used in a consumer-oriented context, i.e., if we buy a few high-quality items (shoes, bathroom towels or furniture), those items will last longer and bring us more satisfaction than if we purchase a greater quantity of lower-quality goods. In fact, I can hear my dad’s voice, saying, “Less is more” and I still believe him.

Yet, “quality over quantity” also applies to how we work, how we play and how we practice.

On the work front, as a business owner, I definitely subscribe to the business model of “Less is more.” That is, I am happier (and more successful) working with a fewer number of clients at any given time. Rather than saying, “yes” to every client and project that comes along, I’ve learned to be selective, allowing myself the time to really get to know my clients and their needs. And, since I’m not overcommitted, I’m able to provide them a higher quality of service.

I can parlay this to my social life, as well. By choosing my friends carefully, I can pretty much assure that my leisure time is spent wisely. A few smart, interesting friends who challenge me and make me better are all I need.

As a marketing consultant, I have worked with business owners in a wide variety of industries. Typically, I encourage companies to limit their service offerings.

Whether on your website or in your sales pitch, instead of listing every single service you can possibly provide, my recommendation is to focus. Focus on a few key products or services that represent your core. Focus on the offerings that you do best and that you enjoy doing. Not only will you deliver at a higher quality, you’ll make the buying process easier for your prospects.

In today’s highly competitive world, less is definitely more.

by Rebecca Cochran

Walking (and Working) Backwards

Did you ever try walking backwards? I did the other day. Well, not actually walking backwards…Backwards

I take a walk daily. I’ve been doing so since I was a little girl. It feels so good, so natural and it’s such a simple way to exercise my body and my mind.

The other day, on a whim, I decided to start at the end of my usual route and walk from there to where I usually begin my walk. I know…that wasn’t exactly rocket science, but it was interesting to take in everything in reverse, to see the “backs” of things: trees, buildings, signs, everything.

As I “reverse-walked,” I couldn’t help but see things differently. I spied a hidden garden that I’d never noticed before. I saw sunlight glistening on a building, giving it a dazzling glow that I’d been missing all those years I’d been approaching from the opposite direction. And, I couldn’t help thinking that I should walk backwards more often, literally and figuratively.

What might I be missing each time I start a project at “the beginning”? Could I achieve a better result if I started somewhere in “the middle” or, even, at “the end”?

Could I be a better problem solver if I consciously worked backwards? By clearly defining what the end result should be, could I reverse-engineer the steps needed to reach that goal?

Certainly, as a musician, I recall teachers suggesting that the best way to learn a piece of music is to “learn it backwards.” In other words, start from the final measure, then append and learn a few prior measures, little by little, until you find your way back to the beginning. This works particularly well when memorizing anything.

Might I be more creative if I consciously “work backwards” more often? It’s incredibly easy to fall into the habit of sticking to a system, especially when that system has been working well for a long time. If I reverse my creative process, might my results be, dare I say it, more creative?

The simple exercise of taking my walk from “back to front” has reminded me that there is more than one way to approach a problem, reach a goal or generate a new idea.

I need to practice walking backwards more often.

What analogies can you add to this list?

by Rebecca Cochran

Walk. Look. Create.

footprintsI’ve been walking daily since I was a little girl. I have my father to thank for that. I relished my evening walks with him during my adolescent through teenage years. We’d set out, just the two of us, every evening after dinner, walking, sometimes talking, always observing the world around us. When we’d return, we were ready to tackle the dinner dishes and relax into the evening.

Walking is a gift. It is something most of us can do for free. Walking doesn’t require any special talents. We don’t have to buy any special clothing (although a comfortable pair of walking shoes is recommended). Most of us can simply head out our home or office door and just walk.

Walking is nature’s cure-all. No matter how I feel when I set out on a walk, I always feel better by the end. If I’m tired when I start my walk, I’m rejuvenated when I finish. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with work or personal issues when I begin a walk, I am clear-headed and focused by the end. And, of course, the long-term physical benefits of moderate-impact aerobic activities like walking are well known.

As an adult, no matter where I’ve lived – city or suburban setting, no matter the climate, I’ve always kept up my walking ritual. A daily walk, even a short one, is a must for me. I’m not one to listen to music or the news while I walk. I focus on my stride (to create a sort of natural rhythm). And I focus on my surroundings, trying to notice things that I’d miss if I were driving the same route.

I walk best alone. (Sorry, Dad.) Friends regularly invite me to join in their walking ritual, but I usually decline their offers. The benefits I derive from walking come when I’m able to think and observe in silence.

The simple act of a daily walk allows me to solve problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begun a walk thinking I had a big problem to sort through, only to determine, 10 minutes in, that I’d been blowing the issue way out of proportion.

And, best of all, I regularly experience creative breakthroughs when I walk. These breakthroughs happen when I’m not even trying. The act of walking and focusing on my stride clears my head. Ideas flow naturally. Dots connect themselves.

Walk. Look. Create. It’s really that simple.

by Rebecca Cochran