Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ten Years from Now

I recently read Guitar Lessons: A Life's Journey Turning Passion into Business by Bob Taylor, co-founder of (now) world-famous Taylor Guitars. It's a book of reminisces -- lessons on life and business learned in the process of pursuing a passion. From the age of 17, when he built his first guitar in high school shop class, to being the head of the fastest-growing guitar brand in the world, Taylor learned a lot and recounts most of it in the book.

I thought the next-to-last chapter was the best: "In 10 Years, We'll Be Glad We Did." He cites numerous examples in the history of Taylor Guitars when they struggled mightily to learn or implement something new; when common sense would have said, "This is too hard." Like when they started a new factory in Mexico -- navigating the maze of a different culture's language, legal requirements, work styles, etc., was a nightmare. His stock answer to such difficult situations was, "In ten years, we'll be glad we did." In other words, everything is hard. But if we can get through the start-up phase, it will pay off in the long-run.

He cites an example of when he failed to follow through with that belief: When he and his wife moved into their third (California) home, his wife wanted to plant an avocado tree. Taylor put it off because they take four to five years to bear fruit and he didn't think they'd be there that long. But they ended up staying in that home for 20 years. So they missed out on 15 years of avocados. If he had just planted the tree(s) when they moved in, "In ten years I'd have been glad I did." (my paraphrase)

Taylor likes to say, "It might take ten years, but time goes by whether you do something or not, so why not start?" Ouch -- I can think of many things I wish I had started 10 years ago. Time goes by regardless. It doesn't wait while we procrastinate or "do more research."

The concluding paragraph of the chapter:
Taking that chance, getting started and seeing new plans and projects through is the ony way you will get to the point where you can look back and say you're glad you did. I blew it on the avocado tree. I passed up my opportunity to start. But with Taylor Guitars I jumped in and started the projects that would change our future and I'm glad I did.
Having celebrated my 63rd birthday this week, the book has caused me to think, "When I'm 73, what will I look back to 2011 and wish I had started when I had the chance?"

There are tons of YouTube videos involving Taylor Guitars, of course, but there's a nice promo video for the book at Amazon here.

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