Jun 092017
 
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Think Of A Startup As A Metaphor For Life

A startup is nothing if not a roller coaster, with highs and lows, running fast and slow, and everything in between. Does this not sound similar to life in general?

Perhaps if we think of running a startup as similar to running our lives, we can better deal with the phases and inevitable ups and downs that are inherent in being an entrepreneur.

So let’s have a little fun and get a little philosophical as we head into the weekend – let’s look at the phases of our lives and our startups.

Birth and Infancy

Our startup is born, just as we were. At birth, we know next to nothing and we are entirely dependent on others for our continued existence. Not all startup entrepreneurs know next to nothing, of course, but I’d argue that regardless of prior experience, their success in a particular startup typically is largely dependent on those around them. This is one reason that successful, seasoned entrepreneurs with strong networks are highly valued and sought after by early stage investors. They understand that the serial entrepreneur essentially has the advantage of being born again, in the form of a new startup, but this time with all the knowledge they’ve gleaned from mistakes made in previous startups.

Toddler Stage

As the saying goes, you need to crawl before you walk. Per above, if as a serial entrepreneur, you’ve already “learned to walk” in a previous startup, then you have a distinct advantage. If you’re new to the startup game, though, you will likely have to learn to crawl first, like most everyone else. This process will include falling down, bumping your head occasionally, and learning through the tried and true method of trial and error. If you are unable to learn from your mistakes, or are impatient and try to skip the toddler stage, there’s a good chance you will be stopped in your tracks and will not be able to move on to the next phase in your startup.

Early And Middle Childhood

For humans, this phase would be from roughly three to eleven years old. For a startup, it would likely be from roughly two to five years old, depending on many factors, including the rate of change in the relevant industry. This is the time during which you start to gain a better understanding of what’s going on, and if you’re keen to learn and you have good teachers (a good “support infrastructure” in general), you tend to progress faster than those around you. If you don’t have a good support infrastructure and/or are unwilling or unable to learn from and course-adjust based on trial and error, you’re in for a difficult few years. Further, if you do not learn and make adjustments during this phase as a startup, your odds diminish greatly for making it to the next phase.

Adolescence

It’s in this stage, in life and in your business, that you’re now likely to make improvements and/or mistakes that could be life changing. If you’ve been paying attention during the earlier phases, it’s during adolescence that you think you have it all figured out. Now, magically somehow, you no longer need or accept advice from those around you, including those who’ve made most, if not all, of the mistakes you’re about to make unnecessarily. This is a very dangerous phase, both in life and in business, where you usually don’t know enough to make great decisions, but you definitely know enough and are overconfident enough to do some serious damage. The hope is that, both in business and in life, you can swallow your pride enough to take counsel from your “elders” and navigate your way through adolescence.

Maturity, And With Luck, Old Age

Assuming you’re able to navigate and survive adolescence, you’ll likely come out the other side with increasing maturity. You will now gradually become what you didn’t trust – an elder – in your life and in your “startup” (which is now far beyond startup phase). As a mature adult, you can now decide how you want to spend your most productive years. In business, you’ll usually want to “stick to your knitting” and continue whatever momentum you’ve created in your core business, only moving into new markets and opportunities after the careful analysis and consideration you can perform with the knowledge you’ve accumulated over time. This is quite similar to life, in that once you’ve gotten your life on a track you’re happy with, you want to be very careful not “screw it up” as a result of shiny object syndrome.

In business, as in life, assuming you survive the various phases discussed above, you’ll reach “old age,” where hopefully, you’ll spend some time sailing into the sunset and enjoying the success you’ve created.

The main takeaway from thinking of a startup as a metaphor for life is that in both business and life, you will go through phases.

It’s natural. It happens. It’s not something to lament. Enjoy the phases as you pass through them. Learn as much as you can in each phase, so you can make the phases that follow that much better.

Realize that with startups, as with life, most phases don’t go exactly as planned. Be willing and ready to adapt to whatever is thrown your way. In our dynamic world, the ability to adapt is fundamental to success in business and in life.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Jun 012017
 
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How To Find Success: Drill Down Deep Below The Surface

If you want to find success in life, you need to go deeper than most people do.

I guess this should be fairly obvious, but in the world we currently find ourselves navigating, most people do no more than scratch the surface of anything!

Think about your typical day. If you’re like most people, you probably spend both your work and leisure time bouncing between activities and “putting out fires”.

How much time do you spend drilling deep into your work or your other pursuits? Be honest. If you’re like the majority of the people in our society today, it’s likely that your answer is: Not much!

What are the implications of only scratching the surface of anything you’re involved with? Well, they are numerous, and unfortunately, they are almost all quite negative.

First, let’s take relationships, a place where most people would like to enjoy as much success as possible. How rewarding and meaningful will your relationships be if they’re constantly undermined by the time you spend looking at your phone, for example? Again, no judgments here, but food for thought.

Example: You finally carve out time to take your kid fishing, but you spend a good bit of the time with your head buried in your phone screen. Or, you turn your phone off for a couple of hours and give your kid your full, undivided attention, taking the opportunity to teach him/her all the fishing tricks that you learned as a kid. Which approach accomplishes the presumed goal of building a better relationship with your child?

Next, let’s take your business (or your job, if you haven’t taken the entrepreneurial plunge yet).   How likely is it that you’ll grow your business and ultimately achieve your goals and dreams if all the time you spend on your business is constantly interrupted by other competing activities? Those competing activities could include all forms of social media, phone calls that could wait until “after hours,” television or radio broadcasts that only serve to distract you, and so on. How much do such activities stand in the way of your business reaching its true potential?

Example: You’re just getting into a groove in writing copy for an ad that you’re putting together. You’ve been mulling around ideas in your head for a while, but now it’s all starting to come together. Just then a call comes in from your friend, who you know is mainly going to want to talk about and plan for a party that’s coming up the following weekend. You take the call, as you don’t want to leave your friend hanging. Or, when you sit down to write the copy for your ad, you commit to yourself that for the next hour, or another time period that makes sense given the situation, you will not be taking any interruptions unless they’re true (like emergency room kind of true) emergencies. Which approach will move you along toward your goals?

Let’s even take a look at your leisure activities. How much rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation are you actually getting if you’re taking phone calls, answering texts, or posting to social media while you’re out supposedly having fun?

You get the idea – whatever you are doing at a particular moment in time is ALL that you should be doing. If something is worth doing, whatever it is, then it should be worth blocking out other distractions, so you can do it well and achieve the maximum benefit and growth from it!

So, let’s get back to the notion of “drilling deep down below the surface”. If you’re distracted while you’re doing or planning a particular activity, what are the odds that you’re going to be able to drill down or do a “deep dive” (as the saying goes) in that activity? I’d have to say they’re pretty low.

On the other hand, if you are completely focused on the task at hand, whatever that task may be, how much more likely is it that you can dive deep and achieve true growth, enjoyment and/or learning from that activity? I’d have to say the probability of being able to go deep improves considerably!

Having the attention span of a gnat will not cut it!

So, if you are seeking success in your life generally, and in the specific endeavors you choose to undertake, don’t be a dabbler and don’t let “short attention span theater” enter the scene. Focus. Commit yourself completely to the task at hand. Then, and only then, will you be able to compete in a world where the spoils of success, monetary or otherwise, go to those who are not content to just flit from one activity to another, but rather drill down deep below the surface. That is where most of the gems can be still found! The gems that sat on the surface are long gone, grabbed up by those who arrived before you.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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May 232017
 
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Confidence Is Vital To Be An Outstanding Entrepreneur

In my experience and observation, confidence is an important characteristic of almost every successful entrepreneur.

Think about the entrepreneurs you know. I’m sure you know some who are successful and achieve or exceed the results they seek on a consistent basis. I’m sure you also know some who rarely if ever achieve their desired results. How many of the ‘successful’ entrepreneurs you know exhibit a high level of confidence? I’m willing to bet that it’s most, if not all of them.

I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with a large number of successful entrepreneurs over the years. Almost to a person, the successful entrepreneurs with whom I’ve interacted are very confident people! What do I mean by confident? I don’t mean that they’re arrogant or braggarts, though some certainly are. I don’t mean that they flaunt their wealth or success, though some certainly do. I don’t mean that they live in a la-la-land of irrational positivity. And I definitely don’t mean that they’re overconfident, such that they’re unwilling to learn from their mistakes, blindly believing that they’re always right.

I also don’t mean that they’ve always been very confident. Many of them I’ve known for a large number of years, long before they became successful entrepreneurs. They didn’t always exude this confidence that I now see in them as successful entrepreneurs.

What I do mean is that they have a belief in their ideas and in their ability to execute on their vision for their businesses. They have a strong belief in the importance of their mission as entrepreneurs, a level of belief so strong that many would describe it as a conviction. This conviction gives them confidence that is communicated both verbally and non-verbally in all their actions related to their businesses. They exude confidence and belief that their businesses will be successful and they will reach their goals in life.

Why is this confidence so important?

First, this confidence and belief are contagious. Anyone with whom these entrepreneurs interact can feel their confidence, which tends to help make them believers as well. It makes them believers in the entrepreneur, in the business, and in the products and services it provides. An entrepreneur who doesn’t project such confidence doesn’t enjoy this same highly paved path to engendering belief in others. It’s a sort of belief facilitator.

Second, given the confidence these entrepreneurs have, they do not hesitate to talk to others and tell them all about their business and the great products and services it has to offer. In most, there is quite literally zero hesitation.

Third, with such confidence, these entrepreneurs don’t hesitate to go after opportunities that come across their desks or they observe in the marketplace. There are no thoughts such as “can we do that” or “will others do it better”. Rather, given their confidence, these entrepreneurs know that they can provide a better solution than their competitors (even if this is stretch sometimes…) and they happily will tell their prospects so.

Fourth, possessing such confidence, these entrepreneurs typically approach opportunities, challenges and all interactions with a high level of energy. This energy is also infectious and helps them to persuade others, including members of their teams, that now is the time to take initiative and accomplish whatever goal they have in their sights. Thus, they are able to project their confidence and energy on others, further increasing their odds of success in any particular initiative or challenge.

So, are you ready to increase your level of confidence and start approaching your business and your life with this newfound confidence?

How do you gain more confidence? Well, some people are born with it. Some have it cultivated in them from a young age by parents and others who tell them they believe in them and that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. For most people, though, confidence develops over a period of time, based on a series of small successes that when taken together, cause the person to think, “hey, I may not be so bad at this after all”.

You need to give yourself opportunities to succeed, and rather than always being your own biggest critic, acknowledge, even if just in your own mind at the beginning, that you can and do add a lot of value in your business and elsewhere. You need to become your own biggest fan. Also, equally important, if not more important, you need to surround yourself with people who are there to help you accomplish your goals, rather than with people who constantly look for ways to tear you down.

This way, little by little, you will develop all the confidence you need to be successful as an entrepreneur and in whatever other endeavors you pursue. I guarantee you that once you gain and exude this confidence, you will be amazed by the outstanding results it typically brings you as an entrepreneur. Again, we’re not talking about being over-confident and arrogant – humility is always important – we’re talking about a belief in yourself and what you’re doing that is contagious and infects those with whom you come in contact.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Feb 122013
 
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Define Success – A Million Dollar Check In The Mail?

How do you define success?

The answer to this question is likely to be different for every person.

Is it as simple as earning a large sum of money – receiving a “million dollar check in the mail?”

Perhaps, but I’d argue that “success” is much simpler than that.  It may have nothing at all to do with making a certain amount of money.  Rather, I believe, success is achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Which goals should you set for yourself?  Well, that’s up to you!  It’s a very personal decision!  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Do you allow others to impose their definition of success on you?  They may say:  you need to make a certain amount of money per year.  You need to live in a certain neighborhood.  You need to have two and a half kids (joking – that’s the average, I’ve heard).  You need to drive a certain car.  Be a certain weight.  Have a certain IQ.  Go to a certain college. Be a “winner”!  Marry the right person.  Be a superhero.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Do you buy into this garbage?

Do you allow others’ definition of success determine whether you’ve “arrived” and earned the right to be happy?

The moment I realized that I didn’t need to meet or exceed anyone else’s definition of success is the moment that I allowed myself to be happy in my life!  I hate to say that it wasn’t that long ago.

I’ve always tried to do my best and I continue to do so, in everything that I do.  But now, I do it because I want to, not to try to live up to someone else’s standard.

I’ve also come to realize that putting off being happy until I reach certain milestones is a fool’s game!  Life is a journey that must be enjoyed every step of the way.  Rather than putting off happiness for some hypothetical moment when the stars will align and it will all “come together,” why not just be happy right now?

Another important realization I’ve come to is that it is a mistake to think of success in a one-dimensional way.  That is, if you say, when I make a certain amount of money or reach a certain net worth, I will have succeeded.  Or, when I accomplish a certain goal, that will mean that I succeeded.  That would be a one-dimensional approach.

A better approach, for me at least, is to set goals along many dimensions:  family, financial, fitness, etc.  Set goals in the areas of life that are important to you, not just in one single area!  If you set and attempt to accomplish goals in multiple areas of your life, I guarantee you that, if your experience is anything like mine, you will be happier and feel much more fulfilled.  Just remember to continue to keep new goals on the horizon, so you always have something to look forward to!

Enjoying the journey, setting your own objectives, and defining success on your terms are choices.  You can make those choices anytime.  Why not now?

I look forward to your thoughts!

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Feb 052013
 
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Success – You Have To Want It More

The best way to increase your odds of achieving success in your endeavors is to want it more than your competitors.

I’ve heard this expression quite a bit and as time has gone on, I have come to believe it’s correct.

Obviously there are extrinsic factors over which we have no control, some or all of which impact our likelihood of being successful in our endeavors.  Holding those extrinsic factors constant though, one of the main differentiators between those who are successful and those who are not is that they want it more!

What does “want it more” mean?  It means that relative to those against whom you are competing, the outcome matters more to you.  It’s more important to you, and for that reason, you are willing to put in the extra effort its going to take to be successful.  If you really want it, you may even go to extremes, such as cheating, which can be a negative byproduct of wanting it more (too much).

Why would one person want it more than the next?  We all have different reasons for doing what we do.  One person may want it more because they feel like they have something to prove, to themselves and others.  Another person may want it more because they believe if they’re successful, they can help their family and others in need.  A third person may want it more because they were raised to be very competitive and taught that winning was the most important thing.

So, one person’s “it” may be a means to an end and another person’s “it” may be an end in itself.  Regardless of the reasons behind the desire though, in my experience, whoever wants “it” more, is more likely to achieve success than the person who is ambivalent or even apathetic.

In order to create and nourish a strong desire to be successful, as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s important that you understand your “why” for undertaking a particular endeavor.  If your “why” is not clear enough, or not strong enough, it’s likely that when the chips are down and the pressure is on, you will not perform as well as someone who has a strong understanding of and commitment to their reason for playing the game.  I mean this metaphorically of course; whether it’s an actually game, a business deal, or most any other type of endeavor where you can measure success, it’s usually very helpful to have a “why”.   Your “why” can help you tap your willpower and increase your odds of a positive outcome.

How badly do you want success (however you’ve defined it – if you haven’t defined it, that’s a separate discussion) in your current endeavors?  Do you have a strong “why” for participating in those endeavors?  Or are you kind of fumbling along, not really sure why you’re doing what you’re doing?

In any endeavors where you have to compete against other “players,” whether the endeavors are focused on business, sports, or other areas of your life, I can assure you that if you don’t want it more, when the time comes to perform, you will be edged out or even blown away by those who have a hunger for success.  If you’re not feeling “hungry” in your endeavors, ask yourself why.  If you don’t like the answers, ask yourself if it’s time to move on to other challenges that stimulate you more.

I look forward to your thoughts!

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Dec 262012
 
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role of luck in success

The Most Important Lesson Regarding The Role Of Luck In Success

What is the role of luck in success?  If we’re being honest with ourselves, luck plays an important role in almost everything we do.  Do you agree?

I used to have the following mindset:  someone would wish me good luck with something and I’d respond with something along the lines of “no luck necessary, I’ve got it under control”.  Even if I didn’t say it out loud, that’s usually what I was thinking.

As I’ve grown older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve realized that luck plays at least some role in everything we do.  That wisdom has caused me to lean toward accepting sayings like “better lucky than good,” which I used to reject as the words of people with a weak mindset.

I’ve also seen a tendency in many people I coach, and even in my own kids, to come out with comments like, “they’re not good, they’re just lucky”.  Such a comment and mindset have embedded in them equal parts hope and denial.  Pointing out the luck of others can be used as an excuse, which tends to be a very unhealthy behavior that serves no purpose in helping you reach your goals.

So, what is the role of luck in success?  In my experience and observation, luck is shared equally among most people; that is, it’s shared equally among most people who are in the game!  The point is, that if you’re not “in the game,” you cannot be the beneficiary of luck in that game, nor can you be the beneficiary of the skills and willpower you bring to the table.  In such a scenario, you’re usually a powerless observer.

You see, the reality is that many of the people who are busy pointing out how lucky this person or that person is, are people who are sitting on the sidelines!  And if they’re not sitting on the sidelines, they’re often sort of half playing “the game,” while all the “lucky” players are pouring their hearts and souls into their efforts.  The casual observer or player takes comfort in the fact that the others are so much luckier than them, so they don’t have to feel bad about how their lackluster efforts are yielding less than extraordinary results.  Go figure!

Granted, there are people who put in very little effort and end up being successful based solely on luck.  They are few and far between.  They are literal (or virtual) “lottery winners” and we all know the stories of how they often end up squandering the wealth and other success that they obtained purely through luck.

True, sustainable success is that which we earn through our efforts and our willingness to “fail” over and over again, then get right back up and continue playing the game.  If we have that sort of “never say die” mindset as a player in the “game,” we appreciate any luck that comes our way, but we do not dwell on it, just as we don’t lament or dwell on the luck of others.

We know that sometimes our luck will be good and sometimes it will be bad, but at the end of the day, our true success will be dependent upon our ability to take on tough challenges again and again without becoming discouraged and quitting.

As the saying goes, luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.  The most important lesson is:  We must be in the game, prepared, and playing our hearts out in order to succeed, not sitting on the sidelines criticizing others and pointing out how lucky they may be.  Luck, be it good or bad, is just one part of the equation.  When it’s good, let it be the wind in your sails; when it’s bad, let it stir your sense of challenge, adventure, and determination and spur you along toward achievement of your goals.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Dec 152012
 
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you are not your past

You Are Not Your Past

This may be good news for some and bad news for others:  You are not your past.

If you’ve had a great past, with many successes, perhaps this is not good news.

If you’ve had a tough time in the past, with few positive experiences, this may be great news.

The reality for most people probably lies somewhere in between.

Regardless, it is important that you understand that you can start fresh today.  In fact, you can start fresh right now.  All you have to do is give yourself permission to do so!  This is the toughest part for most people.  Don’t dwell on your failures; don’t rest on your laurels.  Rather, decide that the future begins fresh right now.

This theme is front and center for me right now, as I’m involved in the very difficult process of writing my father’s eulogy.  As I’m doing so, I’m realizing that many of the constraints that he lived with during his life were self-imposed.

He was a brilliant guy, with a great education, a competitive spirit, and an exceptional ability to get along with others. Yet I think he always held back quite a bit, particularly on an emotional level, due to constraints he felt that resulted from the difficult childhood he lived as an orphan during the Great Depression.

As I’m writing and preparing to deliver his eulogy, I’m realizing how much he did in his life, but I’m doubting if anyone ever said to him, or he ever said to himself:  You are not your past.

Give yourself this simple gift.  Give yourself permission to start fresh and to overcome whatever challenges and deficiencies you may have faced in the past.  You don’t have to look far to find examples of people who have overcome massive challenges to achieve extraordinary success in their lives.  You also don’t need to look far to see people who have enjoyed success, then ended up losing it all.

Remember that you are not your past and that wherever you are today, and whatever you may have done or faced in the past, you have the option to start fresh today.

If you find it difficult to do so on your own, look to those who’ve already taken the path you’re looking to follow.  You don’t need to start from scratch.  Success leaves clues, as the saying goes.  Seek the sage counsel of those who’ve gone before you.

Remember, you are not your past, but you are your present, and you will be your future.  Give yourself the gift of putting the past behind you.  Take advantage of the present.  Every moment is a chance to start fresh and go after your goals and dreams.  Don’t waste that opportunity.  Life’s too short!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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Nov 062012
 
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Misconceptions About The Importance Of Focus

It’s a common refrain among coaches:  “You must focus to be successful”.

I agree with this statement.  Focus is important in sports, business, relationships and almost every other aspect of life! That said, I think it’s important to get a clear and slightly altered definition of focus, in order to make “focusing” a realistic objective.

On http://dictionary.reference.com/, two helpful definitions of “focus” are as follows:

7.  to bring to a focus or into focus: to focus the lens of a camera.

8.  to concentrate: to focus one’s thoughts.

While I think focusing in the camera sense is a useful metaphor for thinking about how to be successful, here we will discuss focus from the concentration perspective.  That is, we’re talking about focus in the sense of concentrating, of zeroing in on one thing, one goal, one activity, etc., to the exclusion of other potential distractions.

Until recently, often when I thought about focusing, I thought about it in an extreme way.  I thought about focusing on just one thing, to the complete exclusion of all other things.  I thought that in order to be successful in one endeavor, I had to completely shut out all other activities, not just for the moment, but for an extended period of time.

I continue to think that shutting out all other distractions can be very effective in achieving one’s goals in a particular endeavor.  Unfortunately though, I’ve also realized that for most people, including me, it is usually completely unrealistic to shut out all other distractions, at least for an extended period.  Like most people, my life is not one-dimensional; I have my family, my business, my sports, my leisure activities, etc.  Given that reality, can I ever really “focus”?

Thankfully, the answer is yes!  I can focus!  I can focus on one thing at a time.  And when I’m done with that particular endeavor, I move on to the next one and I focus on that one.  I guess what I’m saying is that you can become a “serial focuser”.  It works.

What doesn’t work is trying to do several things simultaneously!  When you are distracted while performing an activity, it’s virtually impossible to achieve your optimal result.  Take an example that’s getting a lot of press these days:  texting and driving.  It has caused many serious and fatal accidents.  This is a great metaphor for what can happen in other aspects of your life when you don’t concentrate, when you’re distracted while doing something that requires your complete focus.

Another key point is that focus is usually more important at certain junctures of an activity than at others.  For example, if you’re playing soccer, or tennis, or baseball, one of the most important times to be completely focused is when you are about to strike the ball.  Focus is important at other times in those activities, but it’s at premium at the moment of impact.  This situation repeats itself in other sports as well, and it repeats itself in business and other aspects of life too!  There are certain moments when your complete attention is required for optimal performance and there are other moments when it is not as critical.

So, if you’re going to become a “serial focuser,” and I encourage you to do so, understand the key moments in your endeavor, whatever it may be, where the value of complete focus is at a premium.  Make sure that you are dialed in, switched on, tuned in, etc. at those moments.  If you need to take a mental break, or if you need to multi-task, as we all do from time to time, don’t do it in one of those premium moments.  If you do, your performance is likely to suffer greatly!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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May 302012
 
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analysis paralysis

Avoid Analysis Paralysis – Don’t Overthink Everything

I like analysis as much as the next left-brain MBA type person, but over time, I have learned to avoid analysis paralysis.

What is analysis paralysis?  It is when you are paralyzed by your desire to keep doing analysis until you’ve analyzed every possible variation and outcome.  You end up doing nothing because you don’t want to take a risk, even a small step, without having looked at potential problems from all angles.  It is a true sickness and it runs at epidemic levels among engineers, MBAs and other analytical types.  I speak from experience, as I’m a recovering (over)analysis addict.

So how does one get over the desire to analyze everything to death, and in the process, overcome being afflicted by analysis paralysis?  I don’t think there is one, single recommended path, but here are some ideas.

1.)      Get over yourself.  Lose the idea that you always need to be right.  Perfectionism is the enemy.  Our education system and our society often make us think that we always need to be right, but maturity and experience tell us that’s not how the world really works.

2.)      Related to #1, be willing to take risks.  You may need to start slowly in the beginning, but you’ll get there.  Remember, without risk, there typically is no reward.

3.)      Realize that we live in a world where testing is quite inexpensive for most ideas and scenarios.  Learn to test, test, test, rather than trying to make sure you’re right about everything before ever taking a step.

4.)      Learn to “fail fast”.  If you can adopt and understand that fast failures usually are the quickest path to “success,” you are likely to achieve your objectives more rapidly and more consistently.

5.)      Try some creative exercises and activities.  If you’re firmly rooted on the left side of the brain, make a concerted effort to become more creative and adventurous.  It will help you overcome your tendency toward analysis paralysis.

6.)      Understand that “fail fast” doesn’t mean “fail big”.  Look for opportunities for many small failures that will provide you with the feedback and insights you need to achieve your goals.  Being willing to fail from time to time does not equate to being willing to “bet the farm” at every opportunity.

7.)      Develop support groups.  Find other entrepreneurs and achievers who, like you, are trying to make things happen and make a difference in the world.  Use each other as a sounding board and as “accountability partners”.  Push each other to take action and learn from your mistakes.  Share what you learn with the group.

8.)      Identify role models.  Find people and stories that inspire you to take action.  Read their stories and their writings often, so you stay inspired to be proactive and make things happen.  Surround yourself with others who are trying to make a difference in the world.

9.)      Seek to be a role model and inspire others.  Be a leader.  Be an inspiration to others.  Show them not just what can be conceived, but also what can be achieved.  Put your ideas into action and become a role model for those who would do the same.

10.)   Celebrate your achievements and those of others.  Take time to “smell the roses” and reward yourself for your achievements.  Also celebrate and reward the achievements of others.  Become a champion of achievement and action and you will find that analysis paralysis will soon be a thing of the past for you and those you care about.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Jan 292012
 
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The Hardest Part Of Success

The Hardest Part Of Success

When I work with coaching clients or give speeches, I often get the question (or some variant thereof), “What is the hardest part of success”?  As you know, “success” is a loaded word and can have different meanings for different people.  In fact, my opinion is that the hardest part of success is figuring out what “success” means to you.  Once you know that, you can make a plan to achieve it.  Until you know that, you are “shooting in the dark”.  Here we will tackle what it takes to become successful, not all the challenges you’ll face once you “get there”; that’s a story for another day.

So, how do you define success?  Many people, at least initially, believe that success is a destination.  They believe it’s like arriving at an all-inclusive resort in Fiji or some other tropical locale; once you get there, all is great and you don’t have a care in the world.  Or they may think of it as reaching a certain net worth level.  Or they may believe that once they have certain material possessions or they break a certain sports record, the will have achieved success.

In my experience and my observation in working with clients for more than twenty years, success is not a destination; success is a journey.  The key to making that journey “successful” is defining what truly matters to you.  On a personal level, you may find that what really matters is developing and maintaining deep, meaningful, and connected relationships with your loved ones.  This would include creating and sharing many memories together.  In business, while you may acknowledge that the end goal of all capitalist enterprises is to deliver a “good” return to their shareholders, you may also want to make a positive difference in the world.

What really matters to you is, of course, by definition, a very personal thing.  The problem a lot of times though, is that we live for what matters to other people, rather than what matters most to us.  Whether we realize it or admit it, a lot of times the actions we take and the choices we make are to gain the approval of others.  Society will think more of us of we do this or that.  My parents will think more highly of me if I become a doctor.  My spouse will love me more if I just can do this one thing.  I’ll be more attractive to others if I can just lose this weight or make some cosmetic alteration to my body.  Since we have not taken the time to figure out our own definition of success, we let society and other people figure it out for us.  That is a big mistake.  In fact, it’s an almost certain recipe for never being happy and never feeling “successful”.

In the spirit of keeping this article relatively brief and digestible, rather than going into a lot of the psychology of what you confront in trying to achieve success, let me give you a few questions you may want to ask yourself.  These questions should help get you on the right track as you approach the hardest part of success, which is figuring out what it means to you.

Ask yourself the following questions and make sure that you answer them honestly.  If you don’t, the only person you will be cheating will be you.

What am I passionate about?  Think about those activities and subjects that raise your energy level when you participate in them, or even when you just think about them.

What are my favorite memories?  If you think back on the memories of your life, which ones make you smile the most?

What am I most proud of?  What have you done in your life that makes you proud?

What do I want my legacy to be?  What do you want to be known for when you’re gone?

Where can I make the biggest contribution?  Think about this in the context of business and your personal life.

What do I want to learn?  Consider those things you’d like to learn that you’ve just never made the time to pursue.

What do I want to see?  What places would you like to visit in your life?

There are many more questions you can and should ask yourself, of course, but this gives you an idea of the conversation you may want to have with yourself as you’re thinking about “success”.  It also makes clear something that you already knew, but may have lost track of:  success is not one-dimensional and it is not all or nothing!  What you do or don’t do in one area of your life does not make or break your chance of being successful in other areas of your life.  Remember, what you’re looking for here is your definition of “success,” not society’s or someone else’s.

What will you need to do, see, experience, create, and contribute, in order to feel successful?  Bear in mind, it will not happen all at once.  But until you tackle the hardest part of success, which is defining what it means to you, it’s hard to know if you’re headed in the right direction.  Get started by asking yourself these questions.  Then, start making it happen, step by step.  As the old adage goes, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  Take that first step.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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