At different times, business can be like an adventure on the high seas or like cruising down a calm lake.
There comes a time when you are running a business and you come face to face with the decision to either take your business to a higher level OR stay where you are at.
People are attracted to growing their business because the allure of the prizes of adventure beckon – like a beautiful goddess in the fog of boredom and anxiety – smiling and waving you onto more money, more time, more opportunities, more attractive power to bigger players, people paying homage to you, you becoming known as an expert … it is a highly attractive stage.
There are two ways to grow:
1. Growth with unnecessary long term suffering and short bouts of joy OR
2. Growth with necessary short term suffering leading to long term joy.
I want to talk about the second kind of growth. What does it take?
1. Fear of Commitment is so yesterday
In the new world of growth, commitment is not a problem but a choice. Commitment and all the consequences of what you choose becomes your choice – a choice you must without reservation embrace completely. Any resistance to choosing and embracing will create suffering – the same kind of suffering that a teenager who does not embrace consequences experiences.
Business leaders who realize and internalize this get calm – like an experienced ship captain or warrior who understands what she is giving her life to.
There is a sudden quiet and stillness – even amidst rough storms.
2. Adventure vs. Madness – Understanding of Risk vs. ROI (return on investment)
That experienced ship captain or warrior knows what she has to risk, what she will have to invest and what she could expect possibly as a return. She also knows that she could fail completely. The responsibility of these decisions weighs heavily and are not taken lightly but are not avoided.
Risk and ROI must be understood and befriended.
3. Mastery of Your Environment – Relating to Structures and Systems Better
I remember doing a master leadership program in my younger days. My coach was a lady named Faye – some of you may know her. Faye was dedicated to me becoming an effective leader and told me to take a position in the organization working more or less to implement structures, systems and logistics.
I hated the idea of neglecting my vision, imagination and powerful creativity to become what seemed a demotion and relegation to a mere peon – fixing systems, creating plans, executing tasks and projects.. oh boy… not exciting.
I resisted it tooth and nail. But as with most things I took on, I eventually gave up the resistance and embraced the practice of using structures, systems, planning and accountability – management and supervision.
Today logistics, systems, management, calendars, time management are critical tools for the fulfillment of creativity, vision and the future. It must be treated that way – tools to create a bigger game. The fulfillment of dreams requires this.
4. You leave the lone wolf behind – Leverage and Scale : Teams, Partners, Collaborations, Dialogue
You cannot play a bigger game alone. Imagine Magic Johnson playing for the Lakers by himself or John Lennon playing music by himself.
We are built to be social animals. Our brains are stimulated in social situations. With the right amount of input from others, one can make miracles happen.
The lone wolf stage is critical. You will either grow through it or stay stagnant. The opportunity is to make the leap from self confidence and self mastery to disappearing your ego and learning how to leverage other people with friendly yet effective psychology and deeply learned understandings of what makes other people tick and respond favorably or unfavorably to you and third parties (what some brain scientists call Theory of Mind).
5. You recognize bravery and courage – Leadership
Leadership is no longer played out in the movies. You are the movie. The buck literally ends with you. But it also begins with you – you get to say how it goes – even when life ain’t playing nice along with you. Hillary Clinton wrote once she noticed how her husband Bill Clinton immediately started acting and occurring as a President the moment he got voted in.
When you make the decision to grow, the sheer ironical power of your decision will take over you.
You realize the sense and power of destiny – not given to you – but claimed by you. There are few experiences like this. The so called enemies – fear and reasons raise their heads – and you have to raise your head and the heads of those around you above these enemies.
This is when you ‘find’ yourself – create yourself and mold yourself – and allow the power of your decision to grow to lead you.
6. You will love poetry and irony more – Vision
Growing your business takes guts and vision. About 20 percent at least of our brain is dedicated to vision processing. Most of us have the ability to create a vision and imagine and realize steps to fulfilling this vision.
The art and science of picking a vision worth going for and then being willing to dedicate your being and your resources to the fulfillment of that vision is not easy – and not hard either. Life starts being more complicated and simple at the same time. You have to be willing to deal with the complexity and the nuances – the exceptions to the rules, the new rules, the old rules that may not work anymore – what I call enhumblement – not the eating of humble pie – but the humbling that comes before peace of mind and a grounded self realization.
7. Failures morph into Challenges, Bumps in the Road and Opportunities
No more dramatic failures i.e. failures that leave us stuck and hopeless for a long time. The need to learn how to bounce back is critical. But this cannot be forced – it has to involve self compassion and compassion for others. The human condition includes the need to feel sorry for oneself and to feel like a victim. But the human condition also allows for growth beyond the sheer human-ness (simplified into emotional responses) into the being-ness (simplified into ways of being e.g. courage, bravery, committed, etc.) which is our last name – our surname ‘Being’ – a surname we forget and neglect.
Being-ness leading our human-ness leads to the fulfillment of vision and the ability to recover from our worse times.
I submit to you that these are oversimplified categories of thought. The reality of growing your business is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time – but that is what makes life – excitement, fear – your heart beating fully in your chest signifying that you are indeed alive and making something worthwhile occur.