Personal Inertia and the Fish

By Beacon Staff

Ever sat at a stoplight facing uphill behind a big 18 wheeler?

Notice how long it takes for that big ol’ thing to get moving? Sometimes it seems like forever until it gets up to cruising speed. That’s the burden of inertia.

What about that 747 headed to Australia or Beijing or Rio? It takes several thousand feet for it to go from 0 knots to takeoff velocity.

Inertia is a big obstacle for an 80,000 lb 18 wheel truck as well as a jumbo jet. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to overcome with a big diesel engine or a couple pair of GE Turbofans than yours and my inertia is.

I don’t mean the inertia to get us moving across the room. I mean your personal and/or professional inertia. That type of inertia makes the effort of a semi-truck to reach cruising speed tend to pale in comparison.

The inertia of a truck or plane can be overcome by starting the engine and cranking it up to a predetermined place based on the weight (and so on) of the truck or plane.

For you and I, overcoming inertia is not quite that easy or predictable.

Last week when we talked about The Machine, I mentioned that our personal inertia is often powered by daily routines (and perhaps a daily or weekly crisis here and there) that make it difficult to fit in something new.
In some cases, “something new” might be a process or workflow that takes you way outside of your comfort zone. That adds another layer to this personal inertia thing.

Personal inertia is a far bigger problem than many people realize.

Collectively, Americans spend millions on books, CDs, kits and other products and services designed for one reason – to get them off their keester and get something done.

For some, just buying the book, CD or kit is “accomplishment”, but to actually reach that goal or get that new thing done – you have to actually get off the couch (figuratively speaking) and *implement* the change (much less evaluate and fine tune it).

Why Personal Inertia happens

While many of us have no problem (coffee-assisted, perhaps) getting up and going to work (even the self-employed folks), many of us struggle to make these additional things happen.

When it comes to your clients, I’ll bet many of you have experienced difficulty with their personal (or corporate) inertia.

Breaking the cycle of inertia isn’t easy. It seems risky to the person or business that’s stuck. Often, it seems a bit scary, particularly if the risk of loss of investment or embarrassment is involved.

That’s why you have to give them the fish (we talked briefly about that last week but I didn’t get to the details). The fish primes their pump, much like a pilot project does. The results overcome personal and/or corporate inertia because much of the risk is eliminated and the value of whatever you’re suggesting is demonstrated.

With results you can measure and tack it on a wall, they can get together and work out their own ideas for how this newfangled thing can help them here and there.

So what’s this fish thing anyhow?

Remember that it doesn’t really matter what the fish is. Maybe it’s a “lite” version of your service, something you give away (horrors!), or it’s an entry level version of your product that you’ve created for customers who can’t or won’t do that thing themselves, regardless of the reason.

It can be the smallest little example of what you do as long as the results are measurable. Small means lower risk and lower expense. Once you’ve shown that it works, getting permission to ramp up is a lot easier.

Give, then teach

Once the results / benefits are demonstrated, the vision of what they can accomplish and the buy in are almost always there and “suddenly” learning to fish seems like a good idea.

So how do you tell when it’s time to teach a willing customer how to do even more?

When you see their eyes light up (and their voices change) when they talk about the results they’re seeing. That’s also when the previously unavailable budget / time will appear.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.