Why Do You Do Things That Way? The Power of Self-Reflection

As the world continues to feel the climate of change, it reminds me of a story that Zig Ziglar used to tell that I’m sure you’re all familiar with.

A man’s wife sent him to the store to buy a ham. 

The man brings the ham home and his wife instantly notices and comments that he didn’t have the end of the ham cut off.

“Why do we want the end of the ham cut off?” the man asks. To which, his wife replies, “I cut the end of the ham off because my mother cut the end of the ham off.”

Still baffled, the man goes into the living room and asks his mother-in-law why she had the end of the ham cut off.

“I cut the end of the ham off because my mother cut the end of the ham off,” says the mother-in-law.

The man decides he must have an answer now and immediately gets on the phone. “Grandma, I just have to know,” he says. “Why did you always cut the end of the ham off?”

Grandma pauses for a minute and then replies matter-of-factly, “I cut the end of the ham off because my roaster was too small.”

How Did We Get Here?

Every once in a while, it’s important to question the way we do things both in business and in life.

Self-reflecting in this way is not always a fun process. If I’m honest, most of the time, it points back to the leader (in my case, me!). 

For instance, if I see something being done that isn’t the most efficient way of doing it, I have to pause and ask why we are doing it that way in the first place.

It usually has to do with the resources available at the time or an urgent project that we had to get out or both. But then, it somehow becomes ingrained, so to speak, into our unspoken processes.

When we updated some equipment, why didn’t we make adjustments to better fit the process with the new resources available? Or, after doing it that way one time, was it easier for me to let it go than address it?

Boom! That’s when it points back to me. I let it happen and continued to let it happen. Michelle Poler says that “The enemy of success is not failure, it’s comfort.” It’s easy to tell if you’re too comfortable in your business because you stop asking questions.

If I don’t question the way we do something, I won’t get any answers, no matter whose doormat I choose to lay the blame at. Who’s to blame isn’t important. It’s the thought process behind it and how to change it if need be.

Don’t Be Afraid to Question Everything

So long story, longer, it’s good to question things to see if they are working as well as possible.

Is there something in your business that needs to be changed or even tweaked a little to help you succeed better?

Ask the questions, and don’t be afraid of the answers. Change is good when change is needed. Review your resources every so often, and make sure you’re still on your best way forward.

Written by

Ralph Irwin

Owner, Irwin Printing Co., Inc.

Ralph Irwin owns and operates Irwin Printing in Republic, Missouri. Founded in 1974 by Ralph's father, Irwin Printing has continued to build a strong legacy through Ralph's dedication and passion for helping his customers and their businesses thrive. Ralph's legacy-building continues at home as well, as he and his wife, Gail, spend their time raising three teenagers.