Winners Always Quit (And 6 Other Principles of Funeral Home Success)

Batesville Masters Club member Dave Shank was a Kansas funeral director for nearly two decades, so it comes as no surprise that he has distinct habits and principles that have guided him in his career.

At ICCFA, Dave shared with us his favorite guiding principles of excellence, based on the book ‘Winners Always Quit’, by Lee J. Colan and David Cottrell.

We were so inspired by his speech that we want to share these principles, that are all designed to help you swap out “pretty good” habits for AMAZING results in your funeral business:

1. Quit taking a ride; instead, take the wheel

Stepping into a typical funeral today feels much the same as it did some 50 years ago. In most cases, the funeral will involve a display of the embalmed body, and a pastor will read a few prayers for the deceased; routine, inflexible, likely lacking in personal touch, and often times, expensive.

Most funeral homes and directors have been riding the cultural wave that assumed and accepted that funerals were just supposed to happen a certain way. But now we’re faced with a growing audience that is curious to learn more about the process of death and dying, breaking taboos, and opening conversations. Perhaps we in the funeral industry can begin taking the wheel more often, and be proactive in driving the new conversation, instead of trying to ride out the old one..

2. Quit seeking comfort; instead, explore your edge

Changing the conversation will take a courageous few who are willing to stop seeking comfort, and instead explore their edge. Is that you? If so, you  these might be asking yourself these questions:

  • Who else has done it?
  • Can I dip my toe in first?
  • How bad can it be?
  • How great can it be?

Here’s Dave’s advice: ask new questions that aren’t fear-based, and don’t be afraid to be wrong. Challenge everything, even if you’ve done it for years.

3. Quit analyzing; instead, follow (and act on) your intuition

Have you decided to follow any of the principles of excellence, and start making changes to your funeral home business? Good, then remember this as you feel the fear start to kick in: over-analyzing gets in the way of action.

Between you and your employees, you likely have many decades of combined experience in the funeral home business. Trust that you have the knowledge and wisdom you need to succeed. If you’re lacking in one area, make a conscious connection with someone who is an expert in it.

Use your intuition as a guide while you navigate through this new experience. And don’t just listen to your intuition; act on it; thinking without action leads to worry and “stuckness”, and we can’t afford to stay stuck where we’re at anymore.

4. Quit managing your time; instead, manage your attention

Charlie Jones, a revered sportscaster, had been assigned to cover rowing, a rare sport that he had no prior experience with in the 1988 Summer Olympics. Charlie did some in-depth interviews with all the rowers and asked and how they dealt with the outside elements that affected their racers.

The overwhelming response was that there wasn’t a spare second for any of the rowers to worry about anything other than what was inside the boat. Worrying about such things would simply distract them from crossing the finish line in the fastest time possible. Trying to worry about the competition, time or weather was outside of their direct control.

What does this all mean? That when we hyper-focus on activities or influences, rather than results, our attention becomes scattered. Consider this in your funeral home business. Are you more focused on things you need to do rather than your results? Get out of your own way, and instead of worrying about the small stuff, focus all of your energy on your one outcome.

5. Quit moving; instead, be still

We care for so many families that it becomes second nature to set aside our own needs for the needs of others. When is the last time that you took some time to be still, observe, and detach yourself from the day-to-day?

It is a common belief, especially in Western society, that it is only in motion that meaningful things are created. It is true that the practice of purposeful action leads to desired results. However, taking the time to balance our lives with interests that may not have anything to do with the business, helps to revitalize and rejuvenate the effectiveness of our actions. Only then do the families that we serve get the best that we have to offer.

6. Quit aiming for success; instead, aim for significance

Too often we’re afraid to say no to something, or to “quit”. But remember that by saying “no” to one thing, is saying yes to clarity and focus. Only from that perch can we serve our communities with the level of care that exceeds expectations. As Lee J. Colan and David Cottrell say in ‘Winners Always Quit’, “wise people know that true success, and life’s greatest satisfaction, lies in helping others. That is where significance is found”.

7. Quit showing interest; instead, commit!

Are you inspired? Ready to take action? Great, then DO it. Commit. Make the decision. The word “decision” comes from the latin root words that translate “to cut out all other options”. That means, there’s no other option but to move forward in the direction you want to go. With clarity, aim, focus, curiosity and drive.

Ps. Want to take the first step to driving the new conversations in your funeral home business? Chat with one of our Funeral Success Specialists today!

To get in touch with Dave Shank, give him a shout on Twitter or Facebook.

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  2. Dave Shank

    Rochelle, I am humbled by your kind words. More importantly, sharing the messages from “Winners Always Quit” helps all of funeral service to raise the value and relevance of why we do what we do. When we take the time to step away from working IN our business and apply these 7 principles by working ON our business, better things will happen within funeral service. Thanks for sharing this important and timely message with your followers! The best way to follow me is on LinkedIn. I wish you and your readers the best! – Dave Shank