A Lesson From Lost Keys

Executive Briefing #12 by Jeffrey D. Cullen


Last month I lost my keys. I’d had numerous near misses over the years, but this time they were gone for sure. There were about 15 keys on that old leather key chain.

My first thought was, "Damn! I'm going to have to replace all those keys I've been carrying around." One by one I tried to remember the uses for them.

Let's see, there were the keys to my old office building (I haven't worked there for 9 years and was probably supposed to return them); the key to that old bicycle lock I lost 3 years ago; the key to the back door of our house (we changed that lock quite some time ago.) As I puzzled, it hit me.... I had no idea what most of those keys were for!

In the end, I only had to replace 3 keys in the whole set, the house key and the keys to my mailbox (3 out of 15, hello! 80/20 rule).

Unconsciously, out of habit, and for no good reason, I had carried all those keys around for years - now I was free! That got me thinking about how many "old keys" all of us carry in our businesses and our lives in the form of old habits, outdated beliefs, and sacred cows. How many of those things weigh us down and waste valuable resources like time, money, and energy? How many of those old keys create no value and would not even be missed if they disappeared tomorrow?

Couldn't we all benefit from taking a hard look at our businesses and our lives to see which old keys we could dispense with? I believe the answer is YES. Getting rid of them will free up space and energy for new keys. So go ahead – ditch those old keys. You have nothing to lose but old stuff that’s dragging you down.

P.S. Yesterday I found that old key chain in a coat pocket, so I grabbed the 3 I needed and threw all the others away.

If you need help with finding the old “keys” in your organization or any other aspect of your business, please call Jeffrey Cullen (780) 469-3535 or Stephen Steckly (780) 989-7663 and we’ll come over and help.

Download a printable version of this executive summary here.

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