Lester is struggling through a bus station with two huge and obviously heavy suitcases when a stranger walks up to him and asks, “Have you got the time?”
Lester sighs, puts down the suitcases and glances at his wrist. “It’s a quarter to six,” he says.
“Hey, that’s a pretty fancy watch!” exclaims the stranger.
Lester brightens a little. “Yeah, it’s not bad. Check this out,” and he shows him a time zone display not just for every time zone in the world, but for the 86 largest cities in the world.
He hits a few buttons and from somewhere on the watch a voice says, “The time is eleven ’til six” in a very West Texas accent.
A few more buttons and the same voice says something in Japanese. Lester continues “I’ve put in regional accents for each city.”
The display is unbelievably high quality and the voice is simply astounding.
The stranger is struck dumb with admiration.
“That’s not all,” says Lester. He pushes a few more buttons and a tiny but very hi-resolution map of New York City appears on the display. “The flashing dot shows our location by satellite positioning,” explains Lester. “View recede ten,” he says, and the display changes to show eastern New York State.
“I want to buy this watch!” says the stranger.
“Oh, no, it’s not ready for sale yet; I’m still working out the bugs,” says the inventor. “But look at this,” and he proceeds to demonstrate that the watch is also a very credible little FM radio receiver with a digital tuner, a sonar device that can measure distances up to 125 meters, a pager with thermal paper printout and, most impressive of all, the capacity for voice recordings of up to 300 standard-size books, “though I only have 32 of my favorites in there so far,” says the proud inventor.
“I’ve got to have this watch!” says the stranger.
“No, you don’t understand; it’s not ready.”
“I’ll give you $1,000 for it!”
“Oh, no, I’ve already spent more than -”
“I’ll give you $5,000 for it!”
“But it’s just not -”
“I’ll give you $15,000 for it!” And the stranger pulls out a checkbook.
Lester stops to think. He’s only put about $8,500 into materials and development, and with $15,000 he can make another one and have it ready for merchandising in only six months. The stranger frantically finishes writing the check and waves it in front of him. “Here it is, ready to hand to you right here and now. $15,000. Take it or leave it.”
Lester abruptly makes his decision. “OK,” he says, and peels off the watch. They make the exchange and the stranger starts happily away.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Lester points to the two huge suitcases he’d been trying to wrestle through the bus station, “Don’t forget your batteries.”
This story clearly illustrates the danger of rushing in before you know all the facts. I think a lot of us are like that, we are in a hurry to jump to a solution before taking the time to discover if it is the right solution.
So what is the key to maintaining our patience and doing all our research as we grow our businesses and economy? I believe that having a clear sense of purpose in what you are doing is critically important. Knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing is the only way I have found to be able to maintain the level of passion that is needed to remain patient through to the end.