Twenty-five hundred years ago a new Chinese emperor took the throne of the Middle Kingdom. Because he was only 18, he called upon the court’s wisest adviser.
“O learned sage. O venerable counselor,” said the young emperor, “you advised my grandfather the emperor for many years. What is the single most important advice you can give me now for ruling my kingdom?”
And the adviser, who was the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius, replied, “First, you must define the problem.”
Certainly sage advice – except most of us don’t have a Confucius to consult. But we can learn plenty from studying the advice of top CEOs and business leaders.
For example, Anne Mulcahy, former Chairman and CEO of Xerox, was asked by Fortune Magazine what was the best advice she had ever received in business. She said it occurred at a breakfast meeting in Dallas, to which she had invited a group of business leaders.
One of them, a plainspoken, self-made, streetwise guy, came up to Mulcahy and said: “When everything gets really complicated and you feel overwhelmed, think about it this way. You gotta do three things. First, get the cow out of the ditch. Second, find out how the cow got into the ditch. Third, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn’t go into the ditch again.”
What a great management tip because when you break it down, it covers just about every situation. I’d like to share some other gems with you that will help you “define the problem.”
Mackay’s Moral: When you manage to define the problem, you begin to manage.
Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.