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The Three Questions to Ask Yourself


Life is about questions. Asking high quality questions invariably leads to high quality learning. The Three Questions is a children’s book based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and written by Jon J. Muth. Our seven-year old grandson loves this book. John and I have read it to him more than two dozen times. It is the ultimate quality time for us.  As a matter of fact, I love this book, too!  It is about a young boy, Nikolai, looking for the answers to three questions.

  • When is the best time to do things?
  • Who is the most important one?
  • What is the right thing to do?


Nikolai has three friends who try their best to help with the answers to his three questions: A dog - Puskin, a crane – Sonya, and a monkey - Gogol. These three characters are the young boy’s brain trust. 

But, Nikolai does not find the answers to his questions until he goes to see Leo, the wise old turtle. Leo lives in the mountains and is a difficult trip. While there, a storm ravages the mountain side, and Nikolai saves an injured mother panda and her young cub. By putting himself in peril, the young boy discovers the answers he was seeking.

The answers are straight-forward.

               When is the best time to do things? “Now.”

               Who is the most important one? “The one you are with.”

               What is the right thing to do? “Do good for the one who is standing at your side.”

And now you are saying, “Interesting story and certainly something to think about, but what do these questions and answers have to do with being a contractor?”          

Here is the application.


Make Timely Decisions

How many times have you postponed making a decision because you don’t have all the information to make a “perfect” decision? Or you don’t have time to do the research? Or how often have you postponed firing that employee who is disrupting your workplace because you have too much work? Or postponed a decision because you are focusing on saving a penny on a widget instead of thinking about how to sell an additional $1.

Matt Michel, President of Service Nation, says, “Great can be the enemy of Good.” Sometimes good decisions that will help a company make the next step are postponed because the owner doesn’t want a good process or a good computer program. She wants a “great process” or a “great computer program.”  In other words, too often owners postpone decisions that will be good for the company due to micromanaging and not focusing on what will work in the present.

Do you have to be involved in every decision made in your company? Are there certain tasks that you currently perform that could be done by someone else? Letting certain decisions and tasks go allows you to focus on increasing sales through marketing or improving labor efficiency by implementing performance pay or a myriad of other processes / systems that only an owner can decide to implement. 

Hold yourself accountable. When an important decision must be made, give yourself a deadline. Commit to yourself: “A decision will be made by this date with the information that I have at that moment. I will make a good decision for the company based on what I know and where the company is at this moment in time.”


Love the One You’re With

Yes, the answer to the question of who is the most important one sounds like that old rock song by Stephen Stills. But, it doesn’t change the truth of the answer.

We live in a world where distractions are always available and multi-tasking is considered a worthwhile achievement. However, there is a cost.

The people whom we work with and the people whom we love often pay the price. When you are with a customer, employee, or your family, be with that person. Pay attention. Listen. Be present in the moment. Show respect to the person(s) you are with by actually paying attention.

The culture in your business will improve. You will sell more; your customers will write great reviews; your employees will feel special and be more motivated and your family will be grateful.


Do Good for the One Standing at Your Side

Many of you have employees who have been with you from the beginning. Have you said “thank you” lately? Many of you have new employees who have exceeded your expectations. Have you said “thank you?” Do you say “thank you” often?

What about your customers? Have you sent a message that simply says, “Thank You for being a Loyal Customer?” Have you hand-written a thank you note to a long-time, loyal customer? Have you called an old-time customer just to say, “Thank you for doing business with us.”

And then there is your family. Have you thanked them for allowing you to live your dream of being an entrepreneur? Have you apologized for not being at every game or performance? Have you expressed your desire to build an amazing life for them and a legacy that they may want to take into the future?


A lot of questions and only you can answer them, but take the time to do it.  And by the way, if you have a young child in your life, buy The Three Questions and read it together. It may just change your life and that of the special child who is part of it.


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Topics: Building a Business, Plumbing, hvac, Marketing, business culture, learning, knowledge, Management, team building, Leadership, Business Growth, Business Leadership, creative marketing, Branding, Customer Service

Posted by Vicki LaPlant on Jun 2, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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