The Devil’s Claw


I was shocked.  I was thrilled.   And then, I was completely ticked off. 

I’ve had this puzzle for almost a year.   It’s called the Devil’s Claw.  

You can get these at any Barnes and Noble and this one is rated “Challenging”.   The key is to get the darned thing apart into the two pieces.  I’ve tried.  My wife has tried, my daughter has tried,  my son had tried, my son’s friend has tried, unsuspecting party goers and holiday revelers have tried as I’ve begged many to just “ give it a go” and figure out a way to get the Devil’s claw apart.   

I like the puzzle.

It represents something too, this puzzle.  It must be defeated because well, it just has to be.  Hanayama, the company that makes the puzzle, specializes in recreating these puzzles from the 19th century and knows that there are thousands of people like you and me who need this type of challenge.     We tackle puzzles every day at work, but we sometimes want  more.  

At exactly 9:47 pm, I was sitting in the Man Cave (yep, I got one of those).   The Discovery channel was on (something about submarines), the laptop open and email up, a Bud Lite nearby too close to empty and as I was apt to have,  the Devil’s Claw was in my hands.


It came apart.  One piece in my left hand ….and one piece in my right hand. 

I was shocked.  I was thrilled.   And then, I was completely ticked off.   

I jumped to my feet.   Finally, after so much time had passed, I had defeated the Devil’s Claw.    The only problem was, as I began to head upstairs to exclaim to my wife that I had conquered the devil himself,  I realized that I had no idea how I did it.   I had taken it apart but had no idea how.  None. 

That was not good.  That was really not good.  That made me angry.  And then as I paused, it made me realize how often this happens.

I wanted to share how had succeeded.  I needed to share how I succeeded.  I actually needed to know how I did it.

When you succeed today at work, perhaps landing a colossal sale, are you absolutely sure how you did it?   Do you know exactly what steps you took, what process, what angles, what words, what perspective you took to make that success happen?

What exactly was the way in which you were able to take your Devil’s Claw apart?  When your colleagues, boss or spouse ask “How did you do it?”   Can you respond in a specific way?

You need to.  And often, too often, it isn’t easily explained.

Over the years, I have heard many success stories, so many difficult yet successful stories in which a sale was made, a solution solved, a customer indebted for life to you because of what you did.   And over the years, the how is often lost.

The how gets buried in the “It was magical, they ended up buying the whole suite!” or the “I just went with it” or the dreaded “because I’m a good salesperson.”  The how is forgotten.

Even the “I kept probing until I discovered” or “I wouldn’t take “no” for and answer” or the “I just knew we had what they needed” is akin to that playing mindlessly as I did with the Devil’s Claw in my lap and having it fall apart in my hands.

Success without knowing how, is not success, it is Random Achievement.  Random Achievement isn’t something you or I want.  What we want is success that we can understand and explain.  Success that is understood in minute detail is repeatable and wonderful.

Every manager, sales leader or marketer out there should be asking the questions of the successful salesperson about that successful sale and exactly what happened.   Don’t settle for the vague answers or the generalizations.  Salespeople who are successful may or may not be aware of how they accomplished the feat; (I know that years ago as a salesperson, it took me time before I was consciously aware of how I succeeded).  Your job as a leader is to delve deep into that space and “CSI” the event giving the salesperson and the respective populace the recipe for achieving this specific success. 

Random Achievement is great at the time, but it is no longer random when it falls identifiably upon people with some consistency.   The Devil’s Claw for me was a Random Achievement.   It did not have to be.  I’ve been working on that puzzle for nearly a year. 

Watch closely.  Watch how.   

I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and got two more puzzles, both more difficult supposedly than the one I unknowingly conquered.  

The devil made me do it.   But this time, I’ll be watching. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



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