Where Will You Be 5 Years From Today?
I promise I’m not interviewing you with that question. Apologies for the heart palpitations or sweaty palms that may have caused. This question is the subtitle of a book I found recently, which is simply titled “5.” Did you know Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in less than 5 years? (He didn’t even consider himself a painter; sculpting was his passion.) The founders of Home Depot were fired from their home improvement jobs just 3 years before reaching annual sales of $1 billion.
My reflective focus on “5” this week stems from the fact that I’m about to recognize Initiate Consulting’s 5th anniversary. I remember the scene: sitting in my home office on June 1, 2007. I’d collected my final paycheck on May 31, and was feeling a bizarre combination of empowerment, excitement and utter panic. Where to start? Wherever I want? I think the mental talk track that accompanied that sounded something like: “yahoo!” and “oh #@*%#*!”
I hear a lot of similar feelings and responses from clients as they face new roles or new challenges. Creating and leading something new bring so much opportunity if we can put ourselves into a learning mindset. That’s hard to do! Where did this rule come from – the one that says we are always supposed to know and have the answers? So many of us live by it.
It’s very safe to say there was a lot I didn’t know, and I’m quite sure there will be a lot more I’ll learn between now and my 10th anniversary. With that said, here are my “top 5” my most powerful lessons from these first 5 years:
#5: New Rules. No Rules.
There are many hidden assumptions we hold about the way things should go. Let the word “should” serve as your red flag. It usually appears when you’re playing by a rule or standard you may not really believe in, and yet may subconsciously be abiding by. In many cases, what you are creating is unprecedented. Old measures and rules may not apply.
#4: “You are the first organization you must master.”
This is the first line in a leadership book called “Retooling on the Run.” It struck me like a 2×4 when I first read it. Whether you’re leading a one person business, a small team, or a large company, knowing where you’re likely to get tripped up is invaluable knowledge. The negative voice in your head … procrastination … indecisiveness … how does it show up for you?
#3: Listen to the advice of others AND trust yourself implicitly.
Yes, I realize this sounds contradictory. I made the mistake of going it alone far too much at the beginning (see commentary about “knowing” above!). Eventually I figured out that asking for advice and guidance is a really good thing. My distinction here is this: be sure it aligns with what you know to be true in your gut. More than once I tried – and kept doing – things that simply weren’t me. Stretch yourself? Yes. Be something you’re not? No.
#2: Get specific support for you and your initiative. Many people can offer emotional support, and others will offer tips and tricks for similar situations. As with #3, some of those lessons may be very applicable. Yet there is nothing more powerful than getting support from someone who knows you, and understands what you are trying to accomplish.
#1: Declare what you want! No matter how silly it seems (to you or others) – or how far away it might be – or if you have no evidence to demonstrate it can be done – make a declaration about what your best outcome is. If you don’t know, give it your best guess. Write it down. Say it out loud. Tell people who will help support you in it and keep you accountable. Most importantly, be sure it is defined in positive terms. Here’s the litmus: is it away from what you don’t want, or toward what you want? Aim for the latter!
You can find “5” here: http://www.live-inspired.com/The-5-Book-by-Dan-Zadra-P13. Great accompanying video, too.