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To succeed you need wisdom, passion and focus

 9 July 2021     Donald Cooper 

Every business is faced with increased competition, shrinking margins, more demanding customers and the challenge of finding and keeping great staff. The battle for customer ‘ownership’ and long-term profitability is tough and getting tougher. Mediocrity is no longer an option.

To thrive, or even survive, you need wisdom, passion and focus. First, you need to truly understand your business, your customers, your market and your industry. All of that is the ‘wisdom’ part.

Then, you must be passionate. You must absolutely love what you do. You are the source of energy, passion and joy in your business, or your part of the business. Nobody will love it more than you do. Not your staff, not your customers – nobody.

Third, to be successful, you must be focused. The smart, passionate and energized mind will constantly be seeing hundreds of new possibilities and directions. Seeing possibilities is important. In fact, the future belongs to those who can see possibilities and who know what to do with them. But to be successful, you must focus on just a few of those possibilities and see them through.

How do you keep focused? You do it, first, by being clear about who your target customers are. If you’re trying to be ‘something to everyone’, you’re doomed. Then, you must be clear about what you commit to deliver to those customers in the way of products, services and experiences that will clearly differentiate you and make you the ‘wise choice’ for your target customers.

You also need to be clear about how technology, your market and your industry will change in three to five years and what your business must become, how it will get there, what it must learn and how it will behave in order to thrive in a very different tomorrow.

Creating this kind of clarity about the business is what management is all about. In fact, it’s your first and most important job as a business owner or manager. If that seems like too much work, don’t own or manage a business. You’ll drag it down, lose money and ruin lives.

A business owner recently asked me to help him figure out why he and his business had ‘hit a wall’ in the past two years.  He had started his business from nothing and built it into a significant enterprise but now it had stalled.

After listening to him describe his business journey, I said, “Here’s your problem. At some point, when you started out years ago, you had passion and focus, but not so much wisdom. You worked hard over long hours and you gradually achieved a high level of wisdom about your customers, your market and your industry. That wisdom, together with your passion and focus, made you successful. The problem is somewhere along the way, you lost some of your passion and focus. For years you’ve tried to do it all yourself and now you’re tired, you’re overwhelmed, you need to delegate and you don’t know how. You’re frustrated and you don’t know what to do next.”

He breathed a huge sigh of relief. “That’s it,” he said, “that’s exactly it. I have the wisdom, but I’ve lost much of my passion and focus and I am tired and frustrated.” So, working together, we put into place a process that will bring clarity, focus and passion back to the business – and balance back to his life.  He’s also making the important and difficult transformation from being a ‘player’ to being a ‘coach’. To do this, he’s learning two important things:

One. The skills of being an effective leader and coach, using two of my business tools – Rate Your Leadership Ability (click here to download), and How to Delegate Without Losing Control (click here to download).

Two. He’s learning new ways of feeling good about himself in his new role in the business.

In addition, he has redefined ‘success’ in his life and created a life plan that includes doing with his wife and family a whole list of wonderful things that they’ve put on hold for years. He is back to having the wisdom, passion and focus that got him where he is today.

Do you have the wisdom, the passion and the focus that your business or job needs you to have?  If not, which one is missing, and what’s your plan to get it back?  If any of this sounds like you and you’d like to chat about how to fix it, I’m easy to find at

Now here’s something else to think about: 

My business quote of the week: Never let any one customer become such a big percentage of your total sales he controls your top line, your bottom line and dictates your very survival! I’ve seen several businesses driven into bankruptcy by their biggest customer’s predatory practices.

The world’s busiest airports. For years, the world’s busiest airport has been Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. But now the honour goes to an airport in Guangzhou, China. In fact, three of the world’s five busiest airports are now in China with Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport and the Dallas/Ft. Worth’s Airport slipping to number two and number five respectively.

Have you figured out what life’s really like for your customers? After over almost 150 years in business, the folks at Lafarge Cement finally understood that lifting the traditional 40-kilogram (88 pound) bag of cement can result in workplace back injuries.  So, they now offer their product in 20-kilogram ‘back saver’ bags. It took them 150 years to think like a customer. Whatever product or service you sell, think it through, step-by-step at every ‘tough point’ for your customers. What is it like to buy from you and to understand, transport, use, install, implement, update, repair, maintain, dispose of or recycle what you sell? How can you improve, clarify or simplify to make your customers less stressed and more successful or effective with the products or services you sell? This would be great subject for an upcoming staff meeting.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe. Live brilliantly!

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This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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