Part III: A SAFE Way to Win In Business


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

–     Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), German-born theoretical physicist

Here’s the deal.  Your business is different today than it was yesterday.  Period.  End of sentence.

It will be different again tomorrow.

That does not mean we need to change every day.  That’s where the intelligence part comes in.  The ability to change.  Flexibility.

The “F” in SAFE is for flexibility.

Is it harsh even for Einstein to suggest that the inability or unwillingness to change implies a lack of intelligence?  I’m no Einstein, but I’m with Al on this one.

Knowing when, knowing how and knowing what the ripple effect inside the walls of the organization will be.

The best leaders have many traits in common, and the dominant of them is flexibility.  If we use an athletic analogy, the reason athletes should stretch every day isn’t so they can change in a whipsaw manner, it’s so that they’re ready to change when they have to.  Run further.  Jump higher.  Move differently.  If they’re not flexible, injuries occur.

The weakest* have a few traits in common, and the inability and unwillingness to change — to be flexible — is the dominant of them.  Why did Blockbuster fail?  They never stretched, and when the market moved, they were limping along about two years behind the shift.  Why did Kodak fail?  Yep.  Same issue.

For our bodies, it takes 15 minutes a day to be flexible, and in our later years, we’ll be ready for most of what life throws at us.

For our businesses, the same window of time might be all it takes, and a great example takes us back to the “S.”  If we’re not honoring strategy over structure, we’re gonna pull a hammy.  We’ll be out of the race.  We’ll finish last, or worse yet, not finish at all.

If we have the same people doing the same things we were doing _____ years ago, it’s not too late to start stretching.  Teaching them new things.  Bringing in fresh talent, perspectives, opinions and experiences keeps our business muscles supple, firm and ready to twitch, fast or slow.

If we don’t start stretching, if we believe the same people doing the same things the same way is gonna get us to the finish line, that snapping noise might be a hammy, or an Achilles, or an ACL or some other major injury.  Or, it might simply be the end of our company’s relevance, our careers, or both.

* Editor’s Note:  The word “leaders” is intentionally omitted here, even though it goes against my writing style when doing comparatives.  “Leader” is not a comparative term.  We either is one, or we isn’t — and in this example, the most pertinent application of “flexibility” might well be the willingness, or ability, to lead.





  1. Heidi Brown says

    This week is GREAT stuff. Steve, I can hear your voice in my head – getting excited and passionate about this – as I read. Thank you!!

    • We’ve both seen this done well, and very, very poorly, Heidi. In a small-town community bank, it makes a world of difference. In a burgeoning dental practice, the doc that understands it’s about more than crowns and cleanings, veneers and fillings has better staff, better patient experiences and a lower-stress, higher-success practice. Of course, we ultimately have to execute, looking forward to tomorrow’s post with you. You’re a difference-maker! Thanks for being a part of the movement!

    • Ah, Heidi….if only…when you’re going to be in Dezzy Moineys, call us!


  1. […] “F” is for Intelligence, a blatant tease / tie to yesterday’s post! […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.