Thanksgiving is the time when business usually slows down... at least for everyone else. For entrepreneurs and other owners, it means getting ready for the upcoming year and taking stock in what worked. I'm already voraciously reading a stack of books, from Rework to Originals, getting ready for the next year.

And few things symbolize the shedding of old skin than one of my favorite Thanksgiving stories told to me by my mother, business consultant Bernadette Johnson, who in turn heard it from a mentor:

A couple is getting the Thanksgiving ham ready to put in the oven. Suddenly, one of them takes out a large knife and begins cutting off the end of the raw ham - a significant chunk of it. "What are you doing?" her partner asks. "I'm getting the ham ready to put in the oven." "No, I mean, why are you cutting the end off?" "That's how my mom taught me to cook it." "Why?" "Because... I don't know."

Now curious, she goes over to her mom's house. "Why do you cut the end off of the ham?" "Because that's how Nana does it."

Now both perplexed, they go over to the retirement home to visit the grandmother. "Nana, why do we cut the end off of the ham?" The grandma pauses, then a light comes on in her eyes. "Well, during our first Thanksgiving we didn't have much money, and it was a tiny kitchen with an even tinier oven, so the only way we could make our ham fit would be to..."

What are you doing now in your business that has outgrown its usefulness? More importantly, what practices have you adopted from other businesses, but don't actually know why their practice originated in the first place? Blind habits are wasteful at best. Use this reflective period to think about where you could be cutting off your proverbial ham - and losing opportunities to have a stronger business. Now is the time.

Published on: Nov 21, 2016
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