Want to Grow? Ask Yourself This Question Today

The key word there is: Today.

Big goals are great. But they can also be demotivating.

Think of it: Let’s say you run a smoothie business, and your goal is to grow it into the largest smoothie brand in the world. That’s big and exciting! But...

There is nothing you can do, right now, to directly or quickly achieve that goal. Your work will feel unrewarded. Your path, unclear. Your growth will pale in comparison to your ultimate vision.

That’s not to say big goals are bad. But you need something else along the way.

You must ask yourself: What can I do, today, to change?

I got that question from a powerful profile we just ran in Entrepreneur. A man named Wan Kim asked himself that question, and it transformed his life — leading him to ultimately become the owner and CEO of Smoothie King.

I recommend reading the whole thing, which was written by my friend Paul Kix. But in short, here’s the moment where Wan Kim discovers this powerful question.

Wan had taken a lot of risks. He left his father’s company nearly 20 years ago, despite his father’s deep discouragement. Then he became a Smoothie King franchisee and opened his first shop in Myeongdong, which is Seoul's equivalent of Times Square. This seemed kind of nuts: Smoothies were not popular in Korea at the time, Smoothie King was an unknown brand, and the rent in Myeongdong was astronomical.

Business was slow. Wan opened two more Smoothie Kings anyway.

Now he was carrying a major financial burden, and no amount of marketing and promotion seemed to work. Wan grew bitter. He “blamed his plight on the ignorance of the public. Blamed his father. The commercial leases, the weather,” Kix writes in his profile of Wan. “His life got so stressful from three underperforming stores that one night in 2005, while he slept, he unwittingly ground his teeth to the point that he cracked one of them — just split the tooth wide open.”

Wan woke up, looked in the mirror, and did not like what he saw. He realized that he had to own his own failures, rather than make excuses for them. Which meant he also needed to take more control.

What can I do, today, to change the business? he thought.

And there was the question.

This was not about what he could do in the future. Not what he could do if only he had more money, more time, or more people cared. No. What he could he do today?

“The answer started with a good attitude, which then spread to his employees. It was amazing how they'd been modeling his behavior all this time,” Kix writes. Then Wan started applying this question elsewhere. One of his Smoothie King shops was near a subway station, and that station was under construction, which meant foot traffic had died down and business was suffering. So, what could they do today to fix that?

“What if we opened a catering business at that location? Wan thought. They order their drinks and we find ways to deliver it to them, either around the construction or at their offices.”

That worked. Sales rose.

He kept doing this. By 2007, his stores posted their first profit. He’d go on to thrive, then ultimately buy the entire brand.

Want to Grow? Ask Yourself This Question Today

Wan Kim. Photo via Smoothie King

Then he’d use that question again to solve another major challenge. You can read the piece to learn more about that.

Here’s my takeaway: There are many things we want to accomplish tomorrow, but we’ll never get there without doing something today. And although our options may be limited today — because of time, resources, or something else — we can do something today. We can reach out to someone. Change our approach to something. Have a new idea and begin to explore it.

Something can be done today.

That something will get you to tomorrow.

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Want to Grow? Ask Yourself This Question Today

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Cover credit: Getty Images / VickyLeon