Inner Geek: Sherlock

Inner Geek: 5 Business Lessons from Sherlock Holmes

Approximately a month ago, I welcomed you into my office here in the realm of all that is geek for a discussion about staying true to you in your professional endeavors. Superhero-sized lessons permeated the article, and it was a hit with folks across the Internet. Today, I’d like to invite you back for a chat about one of my all-time favorite fictional characters, Sherlock Holmes. We’re going to discuss five business lessons we can learn from this extraordinary fictional character.

The Great Detective

Over the decades, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective has become a staple of paper and film. Holmes has been portrayed by big names in noteworthy productions. The character is seen as a brilliant and clever yet eccentric sleuth. This legendary character’s character can teach us a few excellent lessons for application in the business world.

Lesson #1: Details Matter

As a master of deduction, Sherlock Holmes saw every detail. It was his acute attention to these details that often resulted in his solving the case. It’s why and how he could size up an individual or event with stunning accuracy.

Small business owners and serious professionals must likewise see the details of their business. Our attention to detail gives us an edge. It allows us to take our profession to new levels, nailing real world application in the most beneficial manner for our clientele.

Always be observant. Be on the lookout for the details of most importance to your performance.

Lesson #2: See the Obvious

Sherlock Holmes had the ingenious ability to see what was right in front of everyone yet entirely invisible. His ability to see the obvious teaches us two invaluable business lessons:

1. Don’t Live in Denial: Running a business is like writing a novel. Sometimes we become so emotionally attached to our hard work that we miss what’s right in front of us. We live in denial of the flaws causing our troubles. It’s important to see the obvious, no matter how painful the hit is to our pride. Don’t live in denial. See your weaknesses and flaws for what they are, and work to turn them around.

2. Don’t Shift the Blame: Sometimes it’s easier to blame someone else. Third party content mills and agencies are an excellent example of this. They hire a pool of contractors and have no scruples with shifting the blame for their inadequacies. Success in business comes when we own our mistakes instead of playing the blame game.

Lesson #3: Go Undercover

Holmes is a master of disguise. He’s skilled at blending in, which allows him to gather pertinent and often vital information, not to mention make an entrance.

While the majority of business owners and professionals will never dawn a disguise like the great literary detective, there’s something to be said for doing a little undercover work. For example:

  • Audience Research: When’s the last time you dove, head first into your audience? Audience research requires more than an analytical approach. You need to converse with and listen to your supporters and potential customers. You have to read between the lines and discover what they really want and need versus what they say they want. What problems can you help them solve?
  • Company Events: Studies show we work harder when we are happy. In fact, a recent study reported on by Warwick discovered a 12 percent increase in productivity when workers were happy. If your business is losing steam, consider conducting objective undercover work at company events. Are your team members and employees happy? Can you make them happier?
  • Scoping Out the Competition: Sherlock is never afraid to scope out his enemy, and you shouldn’t be either. Scoping out the competition is crucial to propelling your business (and career) forward. Go undercover and find out what is and isn’t working for them. Use the intelligence gathered to produce your own edge and find a way to stand out.

Lesson #4: A Partner in (Solving) Crime

Equally as famous as Sherlock is his loyal partner in (solving) crime. Doctor John Watson, the faithful and ever truthful friend of Mr. Holmes, is an invaluable asset. While he has his vices and flaws, he is the one man the detective can forever count on in any perilous situation.

Watson & Sherlock
Image Credit: BBC

The lesson we as business owners and even freelance professionals can glean is the necessity of a supportive, faithful partner. You can be successful on your own, but even Sherlock—the man who had no friends—found the loyal companionship of Watson invaluable.

You need a trusted confidant to turn to, someone ready to fall right alongside you and help pick you up. Teamwork matters. Period.

Lesson #5: Be Brilliant

Sherlock is perhaps the most brilliant and clever detective of all time, and the mind behind him was just as ingenious. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solved a few cases himself, exonerating wrongly accused men of crimes they did not commit. In a sense, he lived his work, leaving a valuable lesson for us.

For most business owners and serious professionals, the line between our personal and professional lives is thin. We live our work on a daily basis. Be brilliant. Apply the lessons covered in this blog, and you’ll be on your way to better business and a better you.

Feature Image Credit: Superb Wallpapers

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