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We saw yesterday how making time is infinitely better than finding time. As soon as you make time you’re already ahead of the millions who are continuously looking for it. Learn how to say Yes and No – and how often – and your sense of purpose will be fortified beyond all temporary disturbance.

But sometimes you need to make a major change. Sometimes you have the option to embark on an incredible adventure, yet in doing so you’ll have to sacrifice many of your perceptions. Think it’s safer to return to the same strategies over and over? It is our responsibility to produce the most lasting, positive effect on the world around us. If we’re only in it for our own enjoyment, it’s unlikely this will see us through the dark times.

For an example of this we need to turn to one of my favorite companies of all time: Grace Manufacturing Inc. Never heard of them? If you’re serious about cooking you probably have. They’re the manufacturers of Microplane Graters.

The story of how Microplane made the jump from the woodshop to the kitchen is incredible for its simplicity. The owners realized that they could expand their mission from “making incredibly sharp woodworking tools” to “making incredibly sharp tools, period.” They took one step towards a more general mission statement, made several changes to their marketing strategy and sales tactics… and now they’re ubiquitous in kitchens around the world.

Here’s the catch: to make this jump everyone at Grace Manufacturing had to say Yes to Sacrifice. They had to embrace what they knew best, yet at the same time look beyond the typical activities that defined their business.

And keep in mind that the company didn’t even begin with making tools for woodworking: they started out making parts for printers! The fact that their process produced extremely sharp edges was a side effect, not a goal. Though once they realized that they were in the “Sharp” business and not simply the printer parts business, it opened an entirely new world of opportunities.

Are you doing what you’re doing right now because it’s what you’ve always done? You may want to take a step back and reconnect with the unifying thread that runs through all your work. Even if you don’t quite fit with your current role, I can understand if you’re reluctant to re-examine treasured assumptions… we’re often more scared of the unknown. But if we don’t change at all, we’ll save our selves while we sacrifice everything else.

 

CEO Chris Grace said it best early in the company’s evolution: “We realized we were good at making sharp things. What can we make that’s sharp?” And when it comes to zesting citrus, you definitely need a tool that’s sharp. Got your Microplane? Great! Now enjoy this Orange and Poppy Seed Cake from Cookie and Kate.

 

For a deeper analysis of the principles discussed in this post, please read Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategyby Joan Magretta.

For a unique glimpse into the type of evangelists Microplane is creating – completely unanticipated by Grace Manufacturing 20 years ago – enjoy this recent profile of Ignacio Mattos.

Please note that some of the links in this post redirect to affiliate sites. To read my full Affiliate Disclosure please click here.