Groundhog day is a holiday celebrated on February 2. The holiday probably originated from the German celebration of Candlemas, an ancient Christian celebration of the purification of Mary and the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Today, it is associated with the tradition of seeing if a groundhog will emerge from its burrow to indicate how much longer winter will last.
I laugh when I learn things like that. Most of our ridiculous holidays and special days are based on something that once had significant meaning and now is trivialized into something with less than meaningful significance. This is reminiscent of Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is a “celebration of love,” which takes place on February 14 every year. It was created by the Roman Catholic Church, and many other countries adopted the tradition. It is believed that the day was named after Saint Valentine, who died on February 14 during the 3rd century. Interestingly, some think that it has its origins in an earlier pagan festival called Lupercalia.
Now, it is a “Hallmark holiday.” It sells roses, chocolates, restaurants, and cards.
Groundhog Day is a 1993 American comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story by Rubin. In the film, Bill plays Phil Connors, a weatherman who finds himself stuck in time on Groundhog Day. Phil Connors suffers through the most unfortunate day of his life over and over again. Groundhog Day is a cult classic film and will remain a timeless classic for years to come. I love it.
What does all of this have to do with you and your business?
We all have routines in our business and our lives that either serve us or hurt us. They say that big doors swing on small hinges. I read a book years ago called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The idea is that to win, you just need a slight edge over your competition, kind of like how an Olympic sprinter can get first place and have all their dreams come true in a fraction of a second, whereas the person another fraction of a second slower goes home in tears.
So it is with the Slight Edge concept: Small, seemingly insignificant positive choices, compounding over time, can ultimately lead to great heights and success. This is opposed to minor, seemingly insignificant errors of judgment that can compound over time to total failure.
Think about weight loss as an example. If you go and pig out on french fries today as your primary food source, can you look in the mirror that afternoon and instantly see yourself twenty pounds fatter? No. Do you instantly have health issues you have to go to the doctor for? Probably not.
However, if you do the same thing for months and years on end, you end up a giant whale on a broken-down couch with EMTs having a hard time rolling you onto a stretcher to race off to the emergency room.
The same goes for the positive side of the slight edge. If you make a healthy food choice today, can you walk right over to the mirror and see the twenty pounds melt off? Nope. Do all your vital stats at your health check from your doctor report perfect numbers? No way.
But if you make these small choices every day, over time, it turns into a huge difference. People underestimate the difference in compounding impact. Just like compound interest, you can end up rich in monetary reward. The opposite is true with bad choices; you get compounded terrible failure.
Back to the holiday analogy: In the case of Groundhog day (either the holiday or the movie), what it represents is, at best silly, and, at worst, a nightmare of a life. The entire premise of the movie is akin to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge has to be faced with harsh reality to get a wakeup call and change his life (or if you prefer, Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life; all of these movies are the same story with different details).
If you are stuck in a destructive pattern, part of the solution is always to make a minimal change in your life. A significant change usually fails due to overwhelming, unrealistic expectations and poor execution. A small slight edge change reverses the tide. Bill Murry had to realize that his terrible situation was really an opportunity in disguise; he had the chance to rewrite history and create the perfect day (which then turned out to be a crazy ride, so the analogy breaks down a little there, but you get my point).
Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, besides being somewhat ridiculous, was turned into a commercial success. There is a hidden lesson in here somewhere as well for us entrepreneurs. Would you, instead, have your silly “holiday” represent spinning your wheels, stuck in a rut doing the same pointless things over and over again and getting nowhere, or would you rather your “holiday” represent raking in the dough on more sales of roses, chocolates, fine dining, limos, and cards?
I, for one, would rather get rich while helping others get what they want and make the investments necessary to benefit from compounding positive action.
So look at your business and your life and turn it from Groundhog Day into Valentine’s Day. Turn your bad habits into good ones with very SMALL (seemingly insignificant) changes that you can take action on NOW that reinforce your core values. Take that list of core values out and dust it off, freshen it up, and schedule just one to three small daily habits that will take you out of “Groundhog Day” and into a new routine of prosperity.
After all, Valentine’s Day might be ridiculous, but getting kisses and cash sounds a lot better than the daily hell of doing what you know you shouldn’t be doing over and over again.