Tools for Success — Always Have Positive Dissatisfaction!

The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience. I started with nothing and didn’t get to college, so I know you can achieve maximum success, regardless of your education. E-mail me to get the first article or any of the other articles in the series. Each of the articles after the first takes a closer look at one of the tactics.

After I sold my salvage yard to Ford in the late 1990s, I spent some time working with executives in Ford’s salvage division, GreenLeaf. At the time, Ford was buying many of the best-run auto salvage yards as part of its vision to have cradle-to-grave presence for automobiles. Eventually, Ford divested its salvage division to refocus on its core business of making cars.

Dixon Thayer, I, and one other partner purchased it, restored it to profitability, and sold it to a publicly traded company. One of the great blessings of my business life was meeting and working with Dixon Thayer, who became CEO of GreenLeaf after the partnership acquired it.

From him, I learned the value of having positive dissatisfaction. When I first heard Dixon talk about positive dissatisfaction, I may have had a reaction like the one you’re having. I thought the words really didn’t go together.

Dixon shared with me that positive dissatisfaction was a paradox, a word that describes two concepts that seem contradictory, but may not actually be.

As entrepreneurs, we understand, intuitively, the need for genuine passion. To lead people, to inspire them to do their best work, you must have passion for what you are doing. Your employees have to see how deeply you believe in what you are trying to create. That’s the positive part of positive dissatisfaction, the contagious energy that leaders have.

At the same time, an effective business owner has to have a strategic plan and clarity about what he or she is trying to achieve. He or she has to know the numbers, the metrics, and the goals.

You should have a specific goal for every aspect of your business that you are working to improve. You should be looking at your key performance indicators at the start of every month and charting your progress toward that goal.

If you are doing these things, you’re dissatisfied about something. Even when you are doing extremely well against the goal, you believe you can do even better. When my yard was growing fast, I remember one sales meeting that I had with my salespeople. Ten of 12 were well above their monthly sales goal, but two lagged the pack. Most owners would have been pleased to have more than 80% of their sales force at or above quota, but I couldn’t help but think how much better we could have done had every salesperson hit their goal.

I’m not going to change. I know that I am more driven than most people. I know that I have a greater sense of urgency than most. Most successful yard owners share these traits. However, I also know that being overly critical of the two salespeople who missed the goal would not have motivated them to push harder. They already knew I was dissatisfied.

Instead, I tried to show them a positive vision of what we could achieve next month. In some cases, you may have a person who just isn’t cut out for sales and moving them to something that is a better fit or letting them go is required, but when you have employees who can perform and who want to perform, a little positive dissatisfaction works well.

Try always having positive dissatisfaction and you’ll see!


Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies. Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for performance, and find new customers on the web.

As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business.

To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232,, 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.