Today on my O’fieldstream Facebook account, one of my long-time friends and colleagues in the outdoor art and writing field, Bob White, posted the following quote of the day:

“What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away, you keep forever.”~ Axel Munthe

This is a truth that cannot be stated enough.  Especially in the light of today’s dog-eat-dog business clime.  There are far too many today who believe – not just think – but believe – that they only way to get ahead it to do everything in an aggressive manner; in the face of everyone else; doing whatever it takes to get ahead and make your mark. There is no mention of sharing or cooperative action – outside of ‘doing so to get what you want’.  So, where’s the sharing in that?

It’s not there. And so is something else much more important and precious: Self Respect.

During the mid 70’s, as a fledgling sign painter I came across a group of very talented, if not alternate-current sign painters who were members of an equally fledgling group called the Letterheads. I learned they were out to, ‘… change the world of sign painting…”.

Thankfully, for all us who have followed the – call of the brush and eventually computer – they did succeed!

Had they not succeeded, the world of sign painting would be a lot less vibrant than it is today.  In fact their very actions literally saved the sign painting industry from extinction as it was known.

Why I bring the Letterheads into this comment is to reveal a KEY to their success – and it ties directly into Bob’s quote selection.

The Letterheads had determined, amid a century-and-a-half of sign painting tradition, that – despite the ‘established dogma’ of there being a multitude of secrets in the trade and art of sign painting, that – in fact – there was but ONE TRUE SECRET.

Yes that’s correct.  ONLY ONE.

Even though the vast majority of the Letterhead members were young, hippy-like, free-spirit types, there were found among the neophytes, several ‘sign artists’, who had many years of practical brush-pushing, business savvy behind them.  They’d paid-their-dues … and they were not pleased with the returns.  The most unpleasant item was the veil of secrecy that oozed from the shops of the established sign-painting community‘.  Collectively they knew what was touted as the juju of the sign painting world was nothing more than contrived and touted hooey.  They saw it as a smoke-screen for the older guys lack of keeping up with technology and product changes. Not to mention a rapidly changing marketplace.

Looking it all over, considering all the facts, in the face of a very uncertain future, the Letterheads had determined that the ONE TRUE SECRET in sign painting, also had seriously deep roots throughout the universe.  Which, rather quickly, they deduced had to include ALL businesses: not just sign painting.

Yes, they did all of this about the time Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were just being introduced.  Long before Steve’s – ‘realizing that everything in the world is made from people no smarter than you.’ – revelation.

Realization of this TRUTH is not new.  It’s only NEW TO YOU when you FINALLY SEE IT.

And once you hear why – you’ll likely agree.

The ONE TRUE SECRET is this:

There are NO SECRETS.  There is only knowledge that is either shared or not shared.

Those who choose not to share their knowledge become locked into a closed mindset of cloaking, hiding and secrecy. Fear becomes their motivator. Everything and everyone become their enemy: their competition. They then slowly die from a lack of growth. They are mistrusting and mistrusted.  They have no allies: no real friends; at least in business.  They do not change.  CHANGE is the key basic requirement for growth.

On the other hand, those who choose to share – openly and freely – grow beyond their greatest expectation. Their growth comes from a lack of fear. Their willingness to be open and to share, opens their opportunities and their lives.

Those who share understand this simple fact: those to whom they pass knowledge, go on beyond their mentor’s abilities – it is realized – would have done so anyway.  But it would have been with the help of others and not themselves.  Such short-sightedness is seen a missed opportunity, not business savvy.

The Letterheads began to realize that stepping up and helping out, created three positive, wholly unexpected and current-industry-mentality defying, rewards:

  1. QUALITY levels are higher in the business field
  2. COOPERATION is built among businesses
  3. COMPETITION  becomes oriented toward Quality work, employees and customer service, rather than Market-share pricing

Instead of the customer-base having control of the business; playing company-against-company, shopping for lowest price, fastest service and deals, business was now – back in control.

Now businesses cooperated on pricing structures; focused on individual strengths instead of trying to ‘cover every base’; had the time, energy and vision to develop the education of the customer about the values of product, service and needs.  The sharing business knows, and understands, that the client whom is well educated about the products and services becomes a better partner for business.

Coming to this point was not easy.  It took the Letterheads nearly 15 years to become a large enough force that the rest of the Sign Industry (brush, electrical and the newly arrived computer elements) – had no choice but to listen.  Yet once the discussion began, it was not hard to demonstrate the value.  Because of the effects  – already in-play and used by – many of the small, medium and large companies were already successful, allowing them to enjoy financial success.  Hard sell was not necessary.

This notion has not remained solely in the Sign Industry; not at all.  Every company on earth has been affected  -one way or another- by the implementation of the knowledge of the One True Secret.  Yet, very few know the real story of how this came to be.  Even fewer truly understand it’s simplicity.

But that would not be you.  Because now YOU know the ultimate KEY to success in the Universe. Now, go out and tell others. It will only do you, your business and your industry good.

That is ALL GOOD.