Could you be the star of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”?

 

It's hard to succeed if you're wimpy.If you’ve spent any time in a book store recently, you’ve probably passed by a whole slew of books by Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This series explores the trials and tribulations of a middle-school weakling named Greg Heffley.

Greg is actually a terrific teacher and role model for entrepreneurs. It’s easy to take advantage of all he has to offer: Simply do the 180-degree opposite of what he does. In other words, steer clear of the following behaviors, and you won’t have to worry about becoming a Greg.

Lose focus.

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, Greg reluctantly joins the school soccer team. He spends most of his time sitting on the bench, because he has pretty much zero athletic ability. But when the starting goalie is injured, the coach has no choice but to put Greg in. Instead of staying focused on his job, Greg allows a goal to score, which ruins his team’s perfect season. Why? Not because he gave it his best effort and the goal got through anyway. No, the opposing team scored because Greg got distracted by the pretty dandelions on the field and decided to pick some during the game.

Adult entrepreneurs have an almost endless variety of dandelion equivalents to distract them. The continual challenge is to keep two questions always top of mind:

Being ruthlessly honest about answering these questions will make it easier to ignore the pretty but ultimately unproductive dandelions in your world.

Don’t bother to plan.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days sees Greg and his friend Rowley starting up a lawn-care business, like good little entrepreneurs. Only one problem: Neither one has ever actually used a lawn mower.

How many times have you found yourself jumping into something without careful planning? While there’s definitely value in a do-it-now approach to business development, acting hastily and without prudent consideration can – and often will – backfire on you, causing more troubles than what you were trying to deal with before you jumped in without looking. Save yourself some heartache: Look quickly but thoroughly, then leap.

This approach will also help you avoid consequences of the next “Greg” behavior.

Use “it seemed like a good idea at the time” as your main decision criterion.

One of Greg’s exploits in the original book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, involves participating, with Rowley, in their school’s safety program; their job is to safely escort the younger kids home. One day, Greg decides it would be fun to scare the little ones by chasing them with a stick draped with worms.

Have you ever been left holding the worm-festooned stick? What did it cost you to deal with the results of the impulsive decision? Better to apply additional decision criteria – what will it cost, what are the potential down sides, what’s the potential ROI, does this make sense for my particular situation, is it in alignment with my previously identified goals, and so forth – than to rely on what “seemed like a good idea” to build your business.

Fail to accept responsibility for your actions.

Because Greg was wearing Rowley’s jacket during the chases-with-worms episode, Rowley is accused of the bad behavior and is “fired” from his safety-patrol job. Greg chooses not to confess he was the one doing the chasing and lets Rowley take the rap; this damages their friendship for a time.

Long-term success is worth short-term discomfort.

We’ve all been in situations where our behavior left something to be desired: a deadline missed, a favor taken for granted, a snarky comment made behind someone’s back. That’s part of being human, and it does no good to bad-mouth yourself over it.

However, “bad mouthing” and “taking responsibility” are two very different things. While you definitely don’t want to wallow in negative self-talk, you definitely do want to courageously acknowledge your bad behavior and do what it takes to rectify it. The long-term rewards will more than balance out the short-term discomfort of ‘fessing up.

Lie and cheat.

One reason Greg is not thrilled with middle school is that there’s homework. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Greg fails to complete a history assignment and tries to borrow one from his older brother, Rodrick. Since big brother is fairly mercenary – and has questionable ethics similar to his brother’s – he charges Greg for the service, demanding $20,000 in “Mom Bucks” (a ploy by their desperate mother to provide incentives for acting like decent human beings). Greg hands over the “money”, which includes Bucks he’s actually earned as well as play money (which happens to look just like Mom Bucks) he stole from Rowley. When Rodrick tries to cash in on the windfall, their mother realizes Greg has stolen phony money and tried to pass it off as genuine Mom Bucks. She confiscates the remainder of Greg’s stolen stash as well as the real Mom Bucks.

Taking what’s not yours, trying to pass off phony for real, failing to meet obligations, lying…Greg covered a lot of ground in this story. And what a bounty of lessons he provides.

Fail to show gratitude.

Greg is treated to a trip to Rowley’s family’s country club in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Instead of appreciating the gesture, Greg complains about every little thing, down to the lack of a paper umbrella in his kiddie cocktail. Result? He’s kicked out of the club.

Gratitude is said to be one of the most powerfully positive emotions around. And it often turns out that, the more we acknowledge what we have to be grateful for, the more we receive to be grateful for.

Don’t take clients, vendors, colleagues, and others for granted. Let them know how much you appreciate them and what they do to contribute to your success. That will go a long way to building up the balance in what Stephen Covey calls your “emotional bank account.”

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So have you realized that you and Greg have virtually nothing in common? If so, woohoo for you! Time to vigorously pat yourself on the back.

Or perhaps you realize you pay an occasional visit to Greg Land, then get yourself back on track. Welcome to humanity; you, also, deserve a woohoo – perhaps just a bit more restrained – for having a clue and the willingness to make things right.

But if you and Greg appear to be siblings from different mothers, it’s time to turn things around before your business – and your self-image – totally tank.

That’s often easier said than done. If that’s the case with you, maybe I can help.

I specialize in helping spinning-their-wheels entrepreneurs get really clear on what’s not working so they can toss that aside and instead start doing what will move them forward. I provide tactics, strategies, accountability, and butt-kicking, in whatever quantities make most sense for the individual client.

Might that be helpful for you? Maybe. One way to find out is with a no-charge, no-risk, get-acquainted call. We’ll ask and answer some questions so we both end up feeling confident about our decision to work together, whether it’s go, no go, or go later.

It’s easy to set this up: Just grab a spot in my calendar, and we’ll see what we see. And if it sounds like a good idea and you’re still hesitating to click the calendar link, ask yourself: Do you really want to be the poster child for Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

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4 Responses to Could you be the star of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”?

  1. Lois Walters says:

    Love the article!! Miss seeing you, when you coming to visit again??

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      So glad you liked it, Lois! Who says the younger generation can’t provide us mature types with good business lessons? 🙂

      Not sure when I’ll be back in the Cities for play time. I’m coming at the end of April, but that’s for a conference, so I doubt I’ll have much free time. 🙁

  2. Pat says:

    I love the examples as something NOT to do! Fun post!

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