Or what the Holy Trinity and The E-myth can teach us about being successful
A few weeks ago while giving a personal update on my content and blog, I briefly alluded to Michael E Gerber’s book ‘The E-myth‘, and how it closely mirrors elements of the personal development journey. Here, I break it down further.
Now if you have never read The E-myth, I encourage you to do so. It is one of the top books to read on the topic of entrepreneurship and small business. Consider it an indispensable part of your journey. In the book, Michael highlights the fact that just because you know how to execute the product or service of the business, does not mean you know how to run and grow the actual business. Those are really two separate skills.
Sounds very common sense, but it is often a glaring blindspot for excited and new entrepreneurs. They go into business super eager and passionate. They feel because they are passionate about cakes and can bake a terrific cake, they are qualified to own and run a bakery. Sure, passion is a good ingredient to have. It will drive and move you forward when little else can. Being able to deliver on the promise of your business is important, but, the big picture of making it work requires a broader set of skills than just baking.
Most new entrepreneurs are good enough at this one thing – executing the actual job of the company, but they suck at the other two legs of the tripod needed to make a business work. To successfully start and run a business according to Michael, you need to wear 3 main hats – the Visionary, the Manager and the Technician.
The Visionary is the entrepreneurial energy. It is the spark of inspiration that says, ‘What if this solution existed? What if we solved this problem? What if we took advantage of this opportunity?’ It is the drive to begin, to start, to set things into motion. It is the prime instigator, casting the vision, showing us where we can be, and where we need to go. Without a solid dose of this hat, we remain stagnant at a survival level, never thriving or breaking through to new heights. Too much of it, and we won’t ever get anything done.
The Technician is the worker bee part of the equation. This is the actual job, the value proposition, the point of the company. This is what you sell, or deliver. Like I mentioned earlier, we are usually heavy on here. We know how to organise the event, or design the logo, or build the model. We know how to bake the cake. Without the technician, nothing moves, but with too much focus on this function, you end up working all the time and never building an actual business.
Between the technician and the visionary is a gulf. One personality is usually too busy in the clouds, dreaming of the next big fluffy idea. The other is usually too stuck in the dirt, busy with the nitty gritty of getting things done. The one who bridges the gap, the one who makes sure the wide eyed directives from the top are effectively translated to day-to-day action is the Manager. The manager is the one who designs and sets up the systems, processes, checks and balances to ensure that the big plans are executed every step of the way.
Incidentally, this idea maps out to the process of achieving personal success, and just achieving goals in general.
There is the clear need for vision. We know we have to have meaning, purpose, a reason for being, a grand vision to achieve or contribute to in our lifetime. There is also a clear need to be able to get things done, to take action, to book the meetings, to do the work, to make things. It is our inner manager that helps us connect the two.
When we begin our journey of growth, we start off by being visionary about it. We think deep and try to figure out what we want to get done, what we want to build. And then we come down from our high perch and get down to the ground, and start building. We oscillate between the Visionary and the Technician.
Half the time all we have is a hunch. We don’t even know what exactly to build. we are building and learning at the same time. But after a while, after a lot of trial and error, and learning, we figure out enough of what we need to build and develop enough skill to actually build it.
At some point, we cross a threshold. It is not just enough to take some action sometimes. Now, we understand that it will take a bunch of different actions all working in concert towards our defined goal. We move from just being able to do a set of push-ups, to an entire system of workouts to maximise strength and gains. We start to operate more in the Manager role. It is this energy that establishes order.
We need all 3 hats, all 3 personalities working together to create a well oiled harmonious ecosystem, where we are able to set large scale intent and see it come to fruition. We are able to set the goal of getting fit, learn to do the exercises, and then create the systems and routines that propel us forward.
That is a big chunk of the work. The actual building phase – the manager portion. Making the plans. Creating the processes, documenting them. Building and instilling habits. It is the system that holds all the bits together. Here we experience the lag. We are busy setting up, but there are no major rewards yet. Here we must patiently build. Once we have sturdy systems in place, we are able to rise back up more into the visionary aspect, riding and driving these systems where they need to go.
And if you think about it, this is really just an archetypal pattern. It is the pattern of the trinity. The father, the mother, the child.
The father, the spirit, the son.
The instigating force, the conductive force, the active force.
Our intentions crystallise from the rarified world of ideas into the plans and patterns of actions which give key results.
If you are busy, and frustrated by not getting results, perhaps do a diagnosis on these 3 states of being. Is your intention and focus right? Do you have a vision? Are you taking right action? Are you doing what needs to be done? And are they organised and directed enough? Are they repeatable? Are they sustainable? Will they take you where you need to go?
Are you wearing and operating in all 3 hats?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the incredible freedom of having a routine. In it, I explored how most creatives actually thrive when they have a routine to tame the chaos of life, and unleash their productivity.
The path to success lies in putting the right things on autopilot. In other words, to create and sustain the level of success you want, you have to create the right habits. Success can be summarised in a very simple flow.
- Decide what you want to achieve.
- Figure out what you need to do consistently to achieve it.
- Make that thing into a habit or routine.
Of course, just because it is simple, doesn’t mean it is easy.
One of the most highly leveraged thingsyou can do to change your life is to adopt a winning morning routine. If we win the morning, we will win the day. If we lose the morning, we are left scrambling to catch up.
I am a self professed night owl and frequently start the day late, but there is something magical about the morning, or at least about your first few waking hours (whenever that is). You are at your clearest, your freshest, and your most susceptible. Provided that you actually did get a good night sleep.
And that gives us our first clue to an effective morning routine.
A successful morning starts the night before.
Effective sleep and rest is important to winning the morning and winning the day.
In his book ‘The Miracle Morning‘, Hal Elrod breaks down his life story, recovering from a near fatal accident in his 20s and surviving the 2008 economic meltdown that wiped out his livelihood. He attributed his miraculous recoveries to one thing – focusing his attention on his personal development and making the commitment to investing in himself every day.
And when was the best time of the day to do so? In the evenings, we are usually too tired. In the afternoon, we are right in the thick of the day’s demands. That leaves with the morning, that magical time.
There are 6 things Hal recommends that you do every day to invest in yourself, centre yourself and put you in the best possible position to win the day.
Start off the day with mindfulness and silence. Like I said earlier, your waking brain is very susceptible. Reaching for your phone first thingand getting sucked down a black hole of distraction and anxiety is a big no-no. The world can wait. This is time for you.
There are many ways to meditate and various teachings and great books on the topic. But they all boil down to essential elements. Sit still. Focus on your breath. Clear your mind. When you realise your mind has wandered, bring it back to your breath. Do that for 10 minutes and you will see your heart rate drop, your breathing deepen and a deep sense of calm come over you.
It is important to quiet the mind and centre yourself before you rush off into the business of the day ahead. I use meditation to resolve emotions and anxiety, to clear my mind, to get in touch with my highest intentions and desires and as a way to connect to the boundless it that holds the universe together.
This is also a fantastic time to pray.
Affirmations are something I do not do enough of yet. But they are a powerful reminder of the unlimited potential that is within you. Speaking and saying things out loud have a way of activating the spirit within and bringing things into fruition.
They allow you to design and build the mindsets you need to take any area of your life to the next level. If you don’t consciously design and choose your affirmations, you will most likely just keep on repeating and reliving the fears, insecurities and limitations of your past.
And that is an interesting thing. Because we all have a base level of feelings, anxieties and expectations that we carry around with us. Meditations, affirmations and visualisations allow us to be aware of these default feelings and begin to change them to the ones that empower us and deliver us to new levels.
For maximum effectiveness, your affirmations must clearly articulate exactly what you want, they must also connect to your compelling why, describe who you are committed to being in order to create it, as well as what you are committed to doing to attain it. In fact, you can go ahead and make your goal statements your affirmations.
So, what you want, why you want it, who you must be and what you must do to get it.
Speak out your affirmations with emotion and feeling. They will go to work in your subconscious, rewiring your expectations, beliefs and actions. Generate the feeling of excitement as you say the words and imagine them coming true. Which brings us to the next element of a winning morning.
We are often so great at visualising the worst possible scenarios. We can imagine all the ways things can go bad and not work. We have experienced failure too many times to embrace the possibility of happy outcomes.
Visualisation is a great way to break past these previous programming and open your future up. Vision is essential, and is a muscle and skill that can be developed.
Athletes are notorious for doing this, creating clear mental images and mentally rehearsing their activities before they do them. Try it out for yourself. Imagine exactly what you want to achieve or attain during the day, and then mentally rehearse doing what you need to do to attain it.
Constantly work at imagining a powerful compelling future that pulls you forward harder and faster than your past, insecurities and experiences.
Visualising what you want creates it. Combine this with your affirmations and mentally see yourself living in alignment with your affirmations, being who you need to do and doing what you need to do.
If you are to move beyond your past and transcend your limitations, you must stop living out of your rear-view mirror and start imagining a life of limitless possibilities. – Hal (The Miracle Morning)
I’ve written about the power of this habit. Journaling regularly allows you to document your insights, ideas breakthroughs, realisations, successes and lessons learned, as well as any areas of opportunity, personal growth or improvement.
They help us mark time, they help us create the future, and they help us create ourselves.
As I said before:
The act of writing somehow, encodes the desire deep into your being, and releases the intention to the universe, so that subconsciously and super consciously, you are working towards your goal.
The habit of journaling helps to crystallise our thoughts, and express our true feelings. It helps us realise what we want, allowing us to clear the fog of confusion, and showing us paths and solutions to take.
Journaling provide the records you can use to supercharge your growth by revisiting lessons learned and making new commitments to implementing them.
All you have to do is write, and there are many ways to do this. You can write in a free flow form like Julia’s Morning Pages, or you can journal with specific prompts like ‘What are you grateful for today’ ‘What would you like to achieve today’, etc. This is one habit that could really change your life.
We consume an incredible amount of information on a daily basis. From messages, to notifications, emails, and feeds, we are endlessly barraged. It can feel overwhelming and crowd out of the most important sources of information and wisdom – books.
For every problem under the sun, someone, somewhere at some point in human history has written about it. You do not have to flail around struggling without success, you can simply learn from the experience of others. That is what books are for. They open up our minds to new worlds. They give us empathy for the experiences of others. They teach us things, about the world and about ourselves. They hold the keys to vastly improving our health, our relationships, our finances, and anything we want really.
But most people avoid them. Don’t be that way. It can be as simple as just reading a few pages every day. A pro tip from Hal is to read 10 pages each morning and record a few ideas you want to implement that day. That way you put what you have learned to practice and extract maximum value from it.
Sleep helps your body rest and recover. Exercise activates it. Putting your body under physical strain allows it to reach its potential. It gets stronger, it improves blood flow, especially to the brain and gives you a body strong enough to handle the demands you put on it on a day to day basis.
Even a simple stretch, brisk walk, short yoga session, couple of pushups. Whatever you can manage is a good first step to activating your body in the morning, clearing your mind and giving you that bolt of energy to get the day cracking.
If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness. Robin Sharma
So, there you have it. Doing these 6 things every morning allows you to invest in yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Centring and aligning yourself for maximum effectiveness and living intentionally towards your goals and purpose.
You are a unique being, feel free to tailor these to your personal preferences. But as long as you are able to enjoy some silence, visualise and affirm what you want, record and learn new things, on a daily basis, you will soon become unstoppable.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the answer, I would spend the first 55 minutes figuring out the proper questions to ask. For if I knew the proper questions, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.” Albert Einstein
Questions are an underrated tool and resource. With the right question, you can radically shift your perspective and open up new possibilities in your life. But we don’t usually like questions. They make us insecure, they shift the ground beneath our feet. They invite chaos.
Answers are more soothing and comforting. So, we are always looking for them. We yearn for the silver bullet, the simple solution that will solve all our problems and put us at ease, give us some kind of peace.
But in this vast complex world we live in, we need to value questions more. We cannot assume the answers we have will always work, because things are always changing. We have to become more adept with living through questions than latching on to answers.
Questions are more important than answers because they instigate. They force us to think, to examine assumptions, to dig deep and find true answers, not just surface answers, but the ones that resonate to our core.
Because to truly learn is to question, not just blindly accepting answers, questions are a learning super tools that turn us from passive receivers to being active participants. They stress test the limits of our knowledge and show us the gaps we need to work to fill, leading us down paths of discovery.
The very best questions can even change your life by helping you find new meaning, or prioritise, or deal with the challenges of life.
In my life experience, and over years of reading some good books and listening to people way smarter than myself, I have come across a few questions that are potentially life changing if addressed regularly. Here are 6 of them.
1. What is the ONE Thing I could do that would make everything else on my list irrelevant?
This is one of my favourite questions. I’ve written about it over and over again. It is the focusing question at the heart of the book – The One Thingand is the main question I use to prioritise my day, my week, my month, my year, all the way to my major goals.
At its core, and most immediately applicable level, it is the question I ask myself first in the morning – what is the ONE Thing I could do today that would make everything else on my list easier or irrelevant? Or what is the ONE Thing I could do today that would make the most impact? Then I go do that thing. The focusing question allows me to identify what is most important.
2. What if it were easy?
Hard work is important, and a lot of great things are only won with great effort. But there is such a thing as wasted effort. Sometimes, a great amount of value can be unlocked with minimal but perfectly placed effort.
As much as many people would love to have 4-hour work weeks, there is also such a thing as the fetishization of hustle. We love the idea of the grind so much, that we get wrapped up in work-for-work’s sake and forget that we also must be effective.
An interesting way to figure how to achieve a goal, is to ask ‘what if it were easy?’. Or ‘what is the easiest, lowest pain way to get this done?’ If there is an easier way to do it, do it. Save your energy for the things that are most important.
Hustle is important, hard work is guaranteed, but we have finite resources and we must allocate them wisely.
3. What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
This one is from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. The ‘unpopular question’, as I once read it called, is a powerful one. It separates the incremental thinkers from the truly innovative and out the box thinkers.
When we hold a belief that most people don’t, we stand against the tide of popular opinion. It is a call for deeper introspection and becomes the launch pad that allows us to have original thoughts, and exploit unseen opportunities to do something remarkable and new.
4. What do you really want?
“This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.” – Ryan Holiday
You would think you always know what you want. You probably don’t. The pull of society and our upbringing is very strong and rightfully so. It takes time and effort to get still and reach deep within. To withstand knee jerk reactions, conditioning and habits. I use this question a lot, to monitor my desires, to make sure I am oriented towards a larger purpose, to delay gratification, to make decisions when I am swamped by requests and demands on my time, presence or energy. What do I really want?
5. What do you truly value?
A derivative of the desire question is the value question which allows you to prioritise your options in life and make the choices best suited to you.
Our lives are driven by our values, consciously or subconsciously held. And for each of us, they are different. Some people value material comfort, others value adventure. Some people value stability, others need constant change to feel alive.
Understanding your value system allows you to make decisions and tailor the life meant for you. And because we are always growing and changing, it is necessary to ask this often, and make sure we stay congruent and aligned to our highest values.
6. Where is the good in this?
The alchemic question. The one you use to turn tragedy to triumph and shit to sugar – where is the good in this?
This question allows us to step back and analyze situations, and circumstances, even the worst of them, and glean something good. If we are able to do this constantly, we are able to see the silver linings in dark clouds, the opportunities in chaos, and the lessons in failure.
It teaches us that everything has the potential to be used for good, to be turned on its head, or as a lesson to be learned.
In this way we become stronger, wiser and more resilient.
It was honestly quite embarrassing. I had just written a piece about the importance of routines and how they have helped me be consistent with blogging and a better creative as a whole, and then the very next week, I go on to blow that routine to smithereens and have an absolutely terrible week. Okay, I’m wildly exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad a week, I just felt very untethered for most of it.
I had failed. I failed my routine and I failed to post.
It is not ideal. But it’s okay. It is bound to happen from time to time.
On the road to success, failure is guaranteed. Your getting to the place you want to be, depends on how you react and deal with failure. Do you spiral down even further, or do you bounce back?
I had failed. What next?
A good strategist and executioner always plans contingencies. What happens when things don’t go your way? How do you recover? What do you do next? The answer for me was simple. And the answer was a question, a paraphrase of the focusing question from The One Thing.
What is the ONE most important thing for me to do right now that would make the most impact?
And in the stupor of my week, floating disconnected from my routine and usual momentum, I asked the question. On the day I was sick and tired, the most important thing to do was to get groceries done, it was simply all I had any energy for and what needed to be done. The next day, the most important thing to do was to do meal prep. And all of that was simply foundation, so I could wake up on the third day and get right to work and spend all day being productive like I wanted to.
It would have been easy to spiral, to feel anxious and guilty, to try to over compensate for the failure of routine by doubling down and pouring yourself back into the grind. But failure is a feature that can be used to improve routine because it is an invitation to pause and reflect, to recover and then improve.
If we design routines and rituals to control and direct the chaos of life, then we must also be aware of and prepare for the points of failure. So when you fail, you have the response mechanism to get you back on track.
But it is not just enough to bounce back. How far can you bounce back? Can you bounce back from failure better and more anti-fragile?
Failure is inevitable, but what matters more than the failure, is your response to it. The quicker you can bounce back, and the more you can milk that failure for all its worth, the faster you get back on to the road to success.
Failure is an opportunity to pause, reflect and recover. It is also an opportunity to learn. To figure out what went wrong, and to anticipate it the next time.
I fail at running my daily routine, so I execute this other small sub-routine (the focusing question) to get myself on track. I don’t just get back on track, I learn what went wrong, what to avoid the next time and how to improve my routines. I learn to regulate my energy and pay closer attention to my diet. I learn to manage expectations and protect sacred creation spaces. I learn how to increase my creative output. I return even better.
So, when you fall off the wagon, as we are all bound to, don’t beat yourself up. Take a breath, reset, learn, and do what you need to do to get back on track stronger than ever.
When you think about successful creatives or artists, you would probably conjure the image of weird people prone to flights of fancy, brilliant sure, but often capricious, unstable, or unreliable. You would imagine that they value large swatches of unstructured time and need complete freedom to be creative and do their work. You would probably think they wake up every day at different times to do different things. You would be very wrong.
About 2 years ago, I came across the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. He compiled and highlighted the diverse rituals and routines of famous accomplished artists, scientists and philosophers. From Salvador Dali to Chris Ofili, they all had something in common apart from their great minds and accomplishments. They had their specific routines and rituals.
See, to be productive and successful, especially over a long period of time and consistently, you cannot just rely on inspiration or on the ‘feeling’. The creative muse is notoriously fickle. You have to embrace structure. It is that structure that ultimately frees you to be creative, to explore vast ideas and birth something new.
Like all things in the universe, it’s a delicate dance of opposites.
The creative muse is be balanced and even enhanced by routine. As individuals, doubly so as creatives, we are faced with chaos on a daily basis. There is the noise within – the voices in our head, our anxieties and hopes and fears. And there is the noise without – society, traffic, bosses, clients, the needs and requests from family. There is a lot that can derail your work and path. Routines and rituals become the guards that protect it.
Routines and rituals do two main things. They provide and defend the time needed to do the work, and they provide the right conditions to do good work. They direct the chaos of the day, the chaos of the mind and set them across well-defined paths every day. It is the only way to get any real work consistently done over time and move towards accomplishing your goals and maximizing your potential.
I have been telling people lately, that if you want to embark on a creative project, like doing podcasts, writing a book, or working on a business – you have to bake in the process into your daily life. You have to create a routine for it. Otherwise, it will never get done. What is not scheduled, does not happen.
For instance, I generally write my blog posts on Sunday. It is part of my ritual to prep for the week. It usually follows a set pattern. I sit down at my desk, I meditate for 15 mins, then I journal, mind dumping whatever is going on upstairs, and only then am I clear enough to write something. Afterwards, I plan my week and get into some work.
Of course, many times, for whatever reason, that does not happen. Some Sundays, I’m out with friends or doing something else. But I still have to execute the ritual when I can, on a Monday or Tuesday morning, whenever I do get the chance to get it done. The point is, the ritual facilitates production. It gives me a set time to work and provides the conditions necessary for good creative work.
The idea of ritual shows up everywhere, even in doing the work itself. To be effective at designing and solving problems, I have to use certain patterns. I follow processes, either documented or subconsciously. I dig into the issue at hand first, letting it fill my mind. Then I have to explore ideas and look at incredible work by others to prime my mind. Then I sketch and design and test till I get something. And I need to have the phone off for hours sometimes just to really get that focus and enter the right zone to produce good work. If I disrespect any of these conditions, the work suffers.
Routines and rituals go a long way.
It is how we trust the process.
It is how we get what we want, how we maximize our potential. It is where living intentionally really becomes tangible in your life. By designing your life in line with your goals. Putting in the conditions and systems to make it work. You focus on winning the day-to-day. Because if you win at executing the most important thing on a daily basis, over time the actions compound to deliver you great wins.
Your routine would look very different from mine. We all have what works for us. In Mason’s book, the routines of artists varied wildly. Some woke up nice and early starting work at 9am like Chris Ofili, others like Pablo Picasso could not be bothered before 2pm. The point is, they found a rhythm that worked for them and maximized their creative output.
However you do it, start right and end right.
We all have the same 24 hours, beginning our days at some point, and ending them at another. In the time between waking and sleeping, we have things to do, obligations to fulfil and projects to execute. If we want to crush it. We have to pay attention to how we start and how we end. A good morning routine sets the pace for the day. A good wind-down routine at the end of the day helps us get a good night sleep and start the next day on the right note. With those two things created and applied consistently, we supercharge our lives, our creativity and productivity. A good routine takes care of the important little things – a noisy mind, unclear focus, eating, etc and allows us to focus on actually doing the work.
A week and a half ago, I was in a deep funk, like I mentioned to my email list. For whatever reason, I entered a dark place, feeling unbalanced, feeling doubtful. Until I came across this video, and had two epiphanies – one, I am not my mind, which is a topic for another day, and two, I should get back to some kind of routine. So, the next day, I woke up, I exercised, I meditated, I visualized, I journaled, and went on to have a very productive day. Like magic, the darkness lifted.
Turns out, all I needed was to get back into rhythm. That’s the power of a good routine.
Another meditation on the process and experience of getting things done.
The last stretch of any serious project is usually the most grueling part of the whole ordeal. It is almost like birthing. The bulk of it has a lot of work sure – conceptualizing, designing and building, but that last bit, getting it across the finishing line, is super intense.
That’s when emotions are at an all-time high. You are tired from all the work so far. At this point, you doubt the validity of the entire project. On one hand, you wonder if you have wasted all your time and effort to get here. On the other, you just want to finish the damn thing and get it out your sight.
But if in the midst of all that strain and pressure, you are still here, still in the game, then you know you have yourself a winner. You love what you do, so much so that you are willing to embrace a high level of suffering and anguish just to get it done.
There is a key thing about getting things done that is important to note. This is especially true if you are working strategically. There is a lag time between effort and results. In a world, where we expect everything with microwave immediacy, this can be jarring. We expect everything fast; the lag violates that expectation.
If you are building something important, especially if you are still in the early-ish stages, there is a lag time that you have to be patient with. You need to be patient and disciplined.
If you are working with intention, you have identified a ginormous goal, something you are working towards. You have also looked at the short term and figured out what the next most important thing to do is.
So, you are working on it and pushing. Especially if it is product development – writing a book, creating a course, designing clothing, designing a business, creating a website, it’s a lot of work upfront. And while you are making the thing, you are getting no feedback from the market place beyond whatever testing you are doing. There is no validation, no emotional boost from likes on Instagram. It is just pure grunt work.
It takes discipline to keep pushing and working on it for weeks, months, even years without tangible results. It takes discipline to push and get the important things done, knowing that you might only see the impact in a year or in the next 5. But that is the core of true strategic intent and level-headed execution. Doing things now that will pay off much later.
The lag is also a call to be clear-headed and practice accurate attribution. Know where your results are coming from.
Where you are right now is as a result of the choices and actions you took years ago. From the habits to the results in your life, the place you live, the job you have, and the money you make. To move yourself to a new place, you have to invest in new actions and habits now. But for the change to be visible, it will take time and you have to be prepared for that.
It is in the lag that people lose heart and quit. In the lag all you have is the work, and your dream. You look around and people seem to be moving on without you. While you toil and labor away in obscurity to create your vision. Seth Godin also refers to it as the dip – the chasm between the start and finish of a project, the valley that separates those serious about achieving the goal, and those who are mildly interested.
The lag does not mean you are failing. The lag means your reality is still catching up with all the changes and actions you are making. You have to stay strong, you have to stay the course and keep pushing. But how do you know the difference between lag and actual failure? Maybe the fact that nothing is happening really means that your project, vehicle, business is not adequate to get you where you want to go.
You don’t. It is a tricky thing to figure out, but there are ways to mitigate the risk.
Because there is a lag time from effort to results, there is something I like to do in designing the projects I work on. When I take on a project, I set intentions for both the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario. I design it so that if it works out really well, the potential upside is very high. Which is why exercising leverage by working on important projects is key. A successful one can literally change your life. But I always like to bake in success into the failure scenario too. Even if this project fails, I have most likely used it also to gain new skills, new knowledge, new network, new insight.
I have been spending the past few months working on the next level of my business, and I have spent time designing the website, designing the way the company functions and learning so many new things about customer research, product development, communications, hiring, business plans, investments, and so on. It has been a long road so far, and an even longer road ahead. But here’s the thing about this exercise. Even if I launched everything the way I have been planning and it fails epically, I would have still gained a lot from the process. I would have learned more about business than I would have otherwise.
But if I succeed, I win big. All the planning and set up lays the foundation for explosive and exponential results. Because once the lag has passed and the results start coming in. They come in fast!
This is why we focus on the process. Because that is what this is. A process. Getting successful is a process, staying successful is a process. The process is all we have, not the results. So, we mind the lag. We recognize it, but we stay focused on the day-to-day, on creating the plan, executing the plan, recording the results, adjusting the plan, executing again, reviewing the results, ad infinitum, until we get what we want, maximize our potential, or run out of time.
We don’t know how long this will take. We don’t care. All we care about is handling today’s task. This is a lifestyle now, this is just how we do. And it is what we will do, till we are past the lag and the harvest comes.
This post was inspired by Sam Oven’s video on Cause and Effect Timeframes: Why today’s results came from last year’s work. Well worth the watch.