On Reaping Where You Have Not Sown.

On Reaping Where You Have Not Sown.

In The Law of Success, Napoleon Hill demonstrates how people have a tendency to reap where they have not sown. You see this with companies who assume the grass is greener and hop into another industry or mess with their core product or service, to their detriment. Coke did this with New Coke in the 80’s and it cost them billions in marketshare. Based on a few surveys, Coca-Cola thought they should make Coke taste more like Pepsi. The were reaping where they had not sown and they abandoned a very fertile garden and let it get overgrown with weeds. This went on during the early days with Uber, where they assumed they could continue to reap revenue while they haven’t sown in the field of employee satisfaction. You see it now with firms that have not embraced how consumers want to buy from them.

Conglomerates do this all the time. They take government contracts for granted, they take relationships with unions or local municipalities for granted and in short order, they find their business has changed. General Electric is just emerging from the mass chaos that forced it to peel off every subsidiary that was trying to reap where it has not sown. Orthodontists do this with external or broadcast marketing. They haven’t invested seriously, don’t understand the math and try to reap where they sowed so sparsely that even with perfect sun and water, nothing grows. I see it with employees in orthodontic practices. They want to be paid more per hour but have not discovered that the universe will only pay you significantly more money for providing more service value, not “taking another trip around the sun.”

I was reminded of this principle recently by an on-again, off-again member who reached out to one of my trainers. The doctor is frustrated that his associate doctors aren’t converting in the new patient room “as effectively as they should be.” This is an understatement, as details reveal they are performing significantly below the national average. Instead of taking my trainer’s advice for a full-day of training or, if necessary, two half-days “at his convenience” (which really needs to be more urgent, if you see a locomotive bearing down on you, how quickly do you want to get off the tracks and to safety? As fast as possible. Right? But I digress.) The doctor wants to do a few hours before the work day begins or a few hours at the end of the work day because “my associates will expect to be paid for any training day we provide and I’d rather have them working in the clinic if I’m going to pay them.” Wow! Talk about losing sight of the forest for the trees. Yes, investing in your team requires real money and real commitment, especially if you expect them to perform at the top 1-5% of orthodontic associates. Just like investing in the financial markets requires real time, money and energy if you expect to produce a positive return, investing in anything is serious business and should not be taken lightly. You cannot violate the laws of the universe and expect to win every time. That is delusional.

Consider the Kansas City Royals. For 30 years, following the 1985 World Series Championship, we were one of the worst teams in baseball. Our owner was the former Walmart CEO. He decided he wanted to run a baseball team like a Walmart store. He paid the lowest price for everything. The minute we found a good player in our farm system, they would leave for better teams that were willing to pay them the money they deserved. In other words, the owner wouldn’t invest in the team. Until one day, when he decided he wanted to win a World Series championship. He made the proper investments and, to no one’s surprise, we went to the World Series back-to-back and finally won the championship in 2015. He got what he wanted and has since passed away and the team is back to its old ways of thinking. They fail to make the proper investments and we finish last or second-to-last in our division every year.

Your practice is no different. If you want to finish last or second to last, continue to think with a small mind and never pay your associates to get more training. If you want to out-perform the competition, however, make the proper investment. Stop attempting to reap where you have not sown.

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.