…those who [achieve extraordinary results] lift their circumstances up to the level of their dreams through awareness, responsibility and communication; others lower their dreams to fit their circumstances.
(Living an Extraordinary Life, p. 8, Robert White)
I’ve been in the liminal dimension between Stage 4 and Stage 5 in my business and learning much about the inward journey this passage requires. Let me begin by describing what characterizes both of these stages and sharing notes about what has helped this owner’s journey through another liminal space. Next week, I’ll describe Stage 5 and what I believe it’ll take to get there.
When a business owner is in what the Crankset Group calls Stage 4, he has a love-hate relationship with his treadmill. At this stage, the owner is pleased the revenue/income is solid and he complains of not having enough time. Ironically, he is resistant to making the changes necessary to create more time. He says things like:
- “I can’t let go of the steering wheel; I have to ensure quality control of the service we deliver here. Things would fall apart here if I were not around.”
- “Why would I want full-time employees? They’re too expensive and too much hassle to train, supervise and manage. 1099s are much better.”
- “I can’t seem to take time off.”
Moving from Stage 4 into that liminal space between Stages 4 and 5 is similar to the personal journey through parenthood. At some point in her development, it’s clear that doing a particular something for your daughter will hinder her growth and development. You have to start walking along side while allowing her to make her own decisions and adjustments along the way. So, too, a mature business owner needs to let go and allow his “baby” to grow up. And there will be stops and stumbling along the way.
When we’re in Stage 4, we believe it’s normal be riding the sine/cosine waves up and down:
First we’re focused on customer/product delivery (red), then it’s staff development/product refinement (green). Note that when product delivery is at its apogee on the Y-axis, staff development is at zero. Conversely, when staff development is at its apogee, product delivery is at zero.
We assume the amplitude of the ride must remain the same—that we will always be juggling infrastructure, product delivery and business development. But what if it were possible to not only diminish the amplitude of these waves but also see them began to trend upward?
How do we get this to happen? Focus comes from the clarity that emerges when we refine and remind ourselves of our vision (our Big Why) and of our mission (the customer/stakeholder experience we want to deliver).
What I also saw clearly was that there are elements in my strategic business plan that can and need to be adjusted in light of current Porteresque Five Forces and life circumstances. I faced the kind of choice Robert White so eloquently describes above: I can choose to lift my circumstances to fit my dream or I can lower my dream to fit my circumstances.
How does one tell the difference? As Chuck Blakeman reminds us, Making Money is Killing Your Business: making more money is not an empowering vision whereas having and living out of a Big Why is. When push comes to shove, it’s more important to adjust one’s business to fit one’s life vision. A conversation with my wife initiated that thought; subsequent conversations with a few colleagues and participation in a day retreat enabled me to rework my strategic plan to realign with my vision.
I don’t yet know what the result will be, but I am confident that my vision will serve my life well.
While on the surface it appears I lowered my dreams to fit my circumstances (stay tuned for the details on what I decided in next week’s blog), a closer inspection revealed that it was more important for me to live out my Big Why and have a life while on the journey.
Next time: Describing Stage 5 and the tactical and mindset shifts to get there.
For the benefit of all our readers, consider sharing a tip in the comments:
What one thing could you do this week to get back to your own Big Why and take back your life?