Have you ever thought about the possibility that many things you do every day are because of a misguided or unexamined belief? I heard a story that perfectly makes this point.

A husband and wife were in the kitchen. The husband was reading the newspaper while his wife was preparing ham for dinner. The husband watched the wife cut off one inch from either end of the ham. He asked why she cut the ends off saying, “That’s a waste of good ham!” She said, “That’s the way my mother taught me to do it.” The husband asked, “Why did she cut the ends off?” The wife admitted she really didn’t know.

Later that evening, the wife’s curiosity got the best of her so she called her mom to find out why she cut the ends off the ham. Her mom said, “Because that was the way my mom prepped a ham for cooking.” The wife’s grandma had passed away several years earlier, but her grandpa was still living. So she called him and asked about cutting the ends off the ham. He thought about it for a minute and then chuckled and said she did that so the ham would fit into her pan! Seems silly, doesn’t it? Three generations of wasted ham over all those years.


A story like this should get us all thinking. We should zero in on things we do that might be the result of unexamined or misguided beliefs.

Maybe I am just weird, but all my life I have been in the habit of asking why and questioning things to the point of almost being annoying. I’ve asked tons of folks in many different situations, “Why do you do this that way?” Most of the time I’ve heard, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it!” As you might guess, that answer never made me feel warm and fuzzy.

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Several years ago I heard about a book titled, “If It Ain’t Broke…Break It.” It challenges nearly everything that’s done in business. I realize there must be systems and procedures in place in businesses and I agree that most are necessary. What I’m talking about are things that should be challenged because they keep you from getting the results you really want. Some are so bad for business that it’s like shooting yourself in the foot.

Here’s one I hear regularly, especially as a blue collar sales coach to many franchises operating in small towns and rural areas. “I can’t get the prices my boss wants for our services because of the small town we service.” Or “We are in an economically poor area and people around here can’t/won’t pay that much.”

If I were to play devil’s advocate I would ask, “Well when you pay your power bill in this small town, do you tell the electric company, “I need the small-town price.” Or when you go to buy a truck or a new TV, do you tell them, “I need the small-town price?” You and I both see lots of folks driving new vehicles and living in nice houses in these towns and they paid everyone else’s normal price. How is it that they just won’t pay your price!

It is amazing when one of these locations hires a salesperson who proposes the correct prices that his peers whine about. Even in these rural territories customers do in fact pay the recommended prices. The weird part is that it could have been this way all along. However way back when, some mediocre salespeople “trimmed some ham off each end of the rates.”

Speed of the Leader = Speed of the Pack!


Are there moats surrounding your business that should be eliminated? Henry Ford regularly said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!” Great insight from a man with an eighth-grade education. Ford did not allow narrow-mindedness to prevent him from researching and inventing and changing the world.

So start looking around for things that are the equivalent cutting the ends off a ham in your world. If you uncover any, start making changes and begin getting the results you really want.


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