The Little Box and a Number

My mentor from afar, the late Jim Rohn, used to share “the little box and a number” story to inspire action. Here is my adaptation of the story.

closed boxJohnny, a young man, is hired for a sales job. Mark, his sales manager, educates and informs Johnny that he needs to make ten calls a day, average one sale a day, and have as a goal at least five sales a week. Johnny says “I got it. Ten calls a day, one sale a day, fifty calls a weeks, five sales a week. I can do it.”

Unfortunately, first day, Johnny gets a little shy. He doesn’t even touch the phone. Second day, he calls in sick. Third day, he engages in any other activity but sales calling. Next day, he spends the day chatting for hours at the water cooler in the break-room and surfing the web, you know, Facebook stuff. Before you know it, it is Friday, 4:45 pm.

Mark calls in Johnny for a debriefing and leads with one simple question: “Johnny, how many sales have you made this week?”

“Aah, Mr. Mark, let me tell you what happened,” responds timidly Johnny. “Ugh, you see on Monday, it was the first day… and… aah…”

“Johnny, I am asking simple questions,” interrupts Mark. “How many calls a day? How many sales this week?”

“I see, Mr. Mark, I understand,” says Johnny. “Let me tell you what happened on Tuesday. I can share what happened. Or, or, or what happened yesterday. My computer connection, you know. And the cell phone network connection. ”

“Well, Johnny, Johnny,” interjects Mark. “I don’t need your story. All I am asking for is a number. That’s all I want. A number.”

open box“You see, Johnny,” continues Mark. “I have in my pocket a little box. A tiny box. And this box can fit only a number. So, when I leave this meeting, all I can take with me in my little box is a number. You are trying to tell me a story. But you see, Johnny, your story doesn’t fit in my box. All I can fit in this box is a number. But guess what? The number you give me, the number that I fit in my little box, that number will tell the whole story.”

This is where this story ends. But here is where ours starts. So, here are a few questions for you. And for me too.

Life is  simple. It is all about a few supporting disciplines.

When we look at health and fitness. There are only a few disciplines to support health and fitness. Remember, the box corresponding to every discipline is small. It can only take a number. So, here are a few simple questions. No stories. Just numbers.

1. How many push-ups have you done this morning? (Some numbers need to be as high as possible. 5? Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. 25? That’s more like it. 50 or 100? Why not? These are good numbers and fit nicely in my little box.)
2. How many apples have you eaten today? (Some numbers need to be consistently constant. 1 or 2 apples a day.  Either/or, a nice number.)
3. How many glasses of water? (Same thing here. 8-10 fits well in the little box.)
4. How many hours of sleep? (Ditto. 6-8 sounds good to me.)
5. How many donuts today? (Some numbers need to be zero.)
6. What’s your cholesterol level? Your triglycerides? Your weight? (Some numbers need to be low.)

You get the idea. The same thing applies to all other areas of our lives. Relational, emotional, financial, spiritual, intellectual. You got it.

1. How many words of encouragement have you shared today?
2. How much have you saved last month?
3. How many books have you read last quarter?
4. How much time have you spent in quiet time, reflection, prayer?
5. How many contracts? How many proposals? How many meetings?
6. How many calls today?

How many? How much? What’s your number?

Life is not complicated. It is all about a handful of supporting disciplines. Just remember, my little box, your little box, is just like that… little. All it can accommodate is a number. But, I tell you what, that number will tell the whole story.

boxI will close by reminding ourselves to always take the right action that will translate into the right number. It is always about the little box and a number.


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