‘My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson went on a camping trip. After sharing a good meal and a bottle of Petrie wine, they retire to their tent for the night.
At about 3 AM, Holmes nudges Watson and asks, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?”
Watson said, “I see millions of stars.”
Holmes asks, “And, what does that tell you?”
Watson replies, “Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and we are small and insignificant. Horologically, it tells me that it’s about 3 AM. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?”
Holmes retorts, “Someone stole our tent.”
No other fictional character can come close to the powers of reasoning and observation of Sherlock Holmes. Now, imagine if you were able to have the extraordinary intellect of Sherlock Holmes or even his companion, Dr. John Watson. Alas, they are merely fictional characters first published in 1887 and their prowess is nothing more than a gift of fiction. Or is it? You could learn and cultivate these abilities to grow your business.
Take a minute and think about it. You may not be able to have the superhuman abilities of a Marvel Comic’s superhero, but you can cultivate the same skills and abilities Holmes uses to solve his cases. In fact, there are only three tools that Holmes uses; mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. All three traits work in concert and without using all three, Sherlock Holmes would be nothing more than lucky. As a business owner, you can develop these traits and use them to your advantage.
Being mindful is probably the hardest trait to develop and use. It is not something you are born with. It has to be cultivated. It is a paying attention to your surroundings and dismissing preconceived notions about what is going on around you. It takes practice to be mindful. Try this the next time you are at the store. Observe what is happening all over the store. Don’t mind the fact the person in front of you at the express checkout lane is rude and has more than 12 items in their cart. No judgment, just observe. Watch the checkout person and how they handle the customer’s items as well as the employee bagging the groceries. Pay attention to facial expressions, posture and do it all without adding any of your own mental distractions and staying in the present. Look at everything as if it is the first time you have ever been in a store .
Now, go back to your business and do the same with your customers and your employees. Just watch and observe without your preconceived notions. Amazing what you will see.
Astute observation is next. Back at the grocery store, what is in the cart of the person in front of you? Is it generic foods, low fat or diet, junk food or not? Take the time to notice the small details. Grocery stores are notorious for distractions at the checkout lanes. Try seeing and observing. It is quite hard to do both at the same time. Sherlock Holmes often stated “You see, but you do not observe.” When you observe, you force yourself to slow down and look at all the details. When you are rushing, you see things and often miss the small details. Astute observation means to watch everything very intently. Out of astute observation come relevance, insight and meaning.
Now go back to your business and observe all the small nuances. Soak in all the small details and note everything about the place you didn’t recognize before.
Finally, logical deduction will give you the answers. Making insightful and intelligent decisions will be easier if you really work on being mindful and having astute observation. Like Holmes, you will not only see everything but you will make good use of what you learned. Let’s go back to the grocery store checkout lane. The person in front of you, or a family member, has a gluten intolerance based on the items in their cart. The cashier knows the shopper because they chat with each other about personal things and use their first names. The boy bagging groceries has a crush on the cashier in the next lane. While staring at her he just put a 6 lb. beef roast in the bag on top of a dozen eggs. The clock on the wall is not working because it has stopped at 11:53.
Now go back to your business and tell me the color of the shirt your employee wore yesterday.