Can You Find the Bald Spot in This Photo?

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I was having one of those rare good hair days. You know the kind – when everything just falls into place and you feel good, really good, about yourself. I’ve had short hair most of my life. For the first time, I’d grown it long in a style that I loved. Who could have known that just 60 minutes later I’d be seriously pondering trading in my long locks for a Sinead O’Connor buzz-cut. Or the invaluable business lesson I’d learn from the experience.

Picture this: January 3rd, 2019. The tree is still up, gifts barely put away. Leftover New Year’s ham still in the fridge. It’s a glorious west coast January day. In fact, the only shadow is having to deal with a clogged sewer line over the holiday break. We could call a plumber, but my husband is a pretty handy guy and a plumber at Christmas guarantees premium pricing. It would be easier and faster to hop down to the Home Depot and rent an auger for a few hours to cut through the clog. After all, we’d done it before.

After a 15 minute round trip, we were back in the basement, working our way through the clog. Or rather, I was watching my better half do his thing. Then “it” happened.

“Hon, could you do me a favor? Just take a look into that access hole and make sure the water is running down there.”

I lean in, pop my head between the two wall studs on either side of the access opening, and bend over to get a look into the access hole, careful to give the still running auger lots of room. 


My long hair fell two feet lower than my head, just long enough to grab the auger.

As my head is dragged down, my hair wound tighter and tighter, I scream at my husband to turn it off. Terrified that my neck will be broken as I am pulled into the wall, he slams the auger into reverse to try and unwind me, pulling at my back as he does.

Suddenly, everything gives way. The two of us fly backwards through the air, landing painfully hard on the concrete floor. My hair does not come with us. A ball of hair about the size of a five pin bowling ball is wound tightly into the auger. Fortunately, my scalp remains intact. But I have a bald spot the size of my fist, right on the top of my head, about a half an inch from my crown.

My bald spot, several weeks after "the incident".

I have never been so grateful for my unbelievably thick Irish hair. I was able to hide the damage simply by moving to a side part. It has taken five years for my scalp to recover and my hair to fully regrow.

But How Does This Relate To Business?

As I was stuck in the wall, neck bent at an uncomfortable angle, constant pressure tugging at my scalp, I thought about how my situation was similar to the ones my clients often find themselves in when they come to me for help. (Yeah, weird. But honestly, either it was that or picture myself with a Sinead O’Connor hairdo.)

It can be very tempting when a ‘task’ looks easy to assume we can (or should) do it ourselves. But the reality is that we don’t know what we don’t know. And the invisible damage our efforts cause severely limits our organization’s opportunities for growth.

  • Much like my very real bald spot was invisible, covered up by a thick layer of hair, business bald spots remain hidden under the illusion of business as usual. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there. 
  • It took years for for the damage to my scalp to heal, for the hair follicles to repair, and for my hair to begin growing again. In business, we often focus on growth without ever realizing that there are structural issues blocking our progress that have to be addressed.

That’s why, at the very outset of an engagement with a client, we did deep into the structure of the business. We’re looking for the bald spots – the damage done with the best of intentions that must be repaired before growth (or regrowth) can happen.

Once we eliminate the bald spots, and restructure the business around facilitating growth, miraculous things happen.

Ready to get rid of the bald spots in your business? Take this quiz to find the bald spots in your business.

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