Six Dollar Haircuts

Six Dollar Haircuts

This is a true story about a third generation barber in a small community in the Mid-west. The shop had been handed down from his grandfather and developed not just a hair salon but more of a community center where the farmers and families would come in not only to get their hair done, but enjoy the coffee and donut bar and spend time with their neighbors sharing the news of their farms and families. This shop had grown to include 10 stylists who cut all the men's hair and all the women's hair in the community.

The owner's son came home from graduate school over spring break, to find his father depressed and reclusive. Finally getting his father to share what the problem was, the father confided that there was a new, national chain that had been moving across the country, bringing in cheap hair salons into all of the different communities and driving everyone out of business. And so, even though the community had loved all of the work that he had done, the perms and the haircuts and the styles over the years, right down the street opened up this new shop. It offered six dollar haircuts. Person after person had left to go to the new low cost shop.

The father told his son, "There is absolutely NO way I can compete with $6.00 haircuts. So much of my clientele has now gone to the new shop that I have no choice but to close our shop. After three generations, we are going bankrupt. I can't pay the stylists or the overhead anymore," he despondently said with his hands covering his face so his son would not see the tears rolling out of his eyes.

The son said, "You know, this last semester I took a "science of success" program that was offered for extra credit in my marketing class. One thing I learned was something that Einstein said. He said that "The significant problems we face can never be solved at the level of thinking of the problem." So, Dad, we have to find another way to think about this. We've got to find another way to see this. Another one of the strategies I learned may help us."

So the son left the room and brought back a notebook and a pen. He told the Dad about "Masterminding", a strategy introduced in the 1930's by Napoleon Hill who had been commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to study the patterns of extremely successful people.

"Here's what we do. We let ourselves think of any idea that comes to mind and we write it down. No editing. We get a flow of ideas for 15-20 minutes and try to get as many as possible. No idea is off limits. Let's go."

The father said, "Well, the only idea I've got is..close the shop!" The son said, "Well, you're right that IS an idea." He wrote it down. Then the son said, "Ok, let's keep going." Before long the son and the father started getting a flow of ideas and writing down every one of them, even every crazy thing that came to mind. When they finished, one of the ideas absolutely jumped off the page and they looked at each other in astonishment and said, "This just might work!" The son left the next day to go back to college.

The father implemented the idea. Within 6 weeks, not only had his drop in clientele completely returned, but the number of customers was now 11% higher than ever in the history of the shop. Do you know what the idea was that turned sure failure into a new course of increasing success?

The idea was, "Place a BIG sign on top of the shop that read,


This story has meant a great deal to me particularly when I am tempted to think that the problem is "out there" in the land of circumstances. Any time I think the problem is "out there", THAT THOUGHT is the problem. As Einstein said, "The significant problems we face can not be solved at the level of the problem." Learning to think in a new way brings Freedom and Power.

Mary Manin Morrissey

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