Climbing the Right Ladder is Not EnoughMay 14, 2021
By Dino Tartaglia
For the first quarter of 2021 (Jan-Mar), we looked at a bunch of things to help you build your business more effectively, following the simple 3-Step System we use at Success Engineers:
Get a Plan
Get to Work (and stay on track).
This quarter (Q2: Apr-Jun) in The Female CEO magazine, we’re focusing on things that ensure that you get on track AND stay on track and, so far, last month, we’ve looked at one of the big culprits for derailing this: The Glass Slipper Fallacy.
Well, I have a saying: ‘With Great Awareness comes Great Responsibility' (with apologies to Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben 😉🕷), which means that we need to have the plan to USE this new-found understanding, enabling us to keep our ‘eyes on the prize’ in order to ensure that we focus on heading in our intended direction.
One more thing to consider is that if you’re going to follow a Playbook, if you will, learn to build your OWN Playbook.
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing someone else’s ladder if the rung spacing, height and structure is sound and appears to be right for you (and there are no snakes hanging out in between some of the rungs).
But it’s one heckuva problem if you spend a couple of years climbing it all the way to the top only to find that it was against the wrong wall the whole time.
THIS is the danger of using someone else’s process for going from where you are to the place you’d like to get to, because:
- they didn’t START where you are,
- they actually haven’t ENDED UP where you want to be (even if it looks like that from the outside) and, most importantly,
- they sure as heck aren’t WHO you are - and you are not who they were as they built out and executed their ‘Playbook’.
In order to use all of this fresh insight, we also need to be aware of what might prevent us from doing the work. The most obvious thing in this regard is the misunderstanding of the notion that you decide on (or envision) your future and then go off and build it.
But it ain’t quite as straightforward as that ...
You Don’t Decide Your Future
This really comes into play when we start looking at getting AND staying largely on course, or course-correcting early enough if we start to drift a bit - before that ‘bit’ off course turns into ‘a lot’ off course. And that’s where your behaviours and your habits come into play.
There’s a further piece of understanding that I’d love you to learn and internalise, and it comes from this bit of insight:
‘You don’t decide your future. You build your habits, and your habits decide your future.’
In truth, most business coaches put heavy focus on the mechanics of your business, and it’s almost taken as read that you’ll do what needs to be done to implement the processes and execute your plan.
But we know differently, don’t we?
In short, there’s a gap between Intention and Consistent Execution.
There is a tonne of things that get in the way of you doing what you mean to do, or what needs to be done, and this is totally normal for all but THE most focused, motivated, and disciplined among us.
You know the type - that rare breed of entrepreneur we call the Business Unicorn.
These are the Olympic Athletes-in-the-making of the entrepreneurial world. For the rest of us mere mortals, we need Clarity, a Plan that fits who we are and WHERE we are on our journey. Strategies that enable us to Do the Work, support that enables us to get back up when we fall down, and guidance that pulls us back on course when we drift. These are far more realistic mechanisms to support our success journey than idealised plans and blueprints that either totally ignore the reality we live in or idealise what we need to do when the inevitable challenges of that reality come visiting.
From Zero to Infinity ... and Beyond!
One of the distressing things I repeatedly see is the impact of good people who are brilliant at what they do being disheartened or beaten up by feelings of ‘not enoughness’ or uncertainty due to trying to do way too much, or just enough of the wrong thing to lose consistency and momentum when they were actually on the right track in the first place.
One of the key culprits for this is trying to force-build habits that are a) not in tune with who they are, and b) too many to handle.
Example: you decide that you’re going to lose a stone (14lbs/6-ish Kgs) in weight, ‘get fit’ (whatever that means) and take better care of your general mental health and wellbeing.
So, you map out a plan, and then determine to:
- Eat healthily
- Restrict your calorie intake to 1,500 kcals/day
- Up your intake of water to 2L/4.2 pints per day
- Walk 10,000 steps every day
- Meditate for 10 minutes daily
- Journal for 15 minutes every day.
Sounds fab, doesn’t it?!
Each of these things in and of themselves is entirely doable for most people. But there are problems with this plan:
What we didn’t factor in is that this is asking you to change A LOT of habits in one hit.
Right now, you:
- Have an incredibly poor diet, full of hidden sugars
- Eat enough calories daily to power a rugby prop forward or an NFL lineman (if you don’t do sport, take it as read that this is a shedload of calories!)
- Only drink lemonade and other sugar-laden carbonated drinks
- Move a lot, but haven’t got the organisation or structure to free up 90 minutes a day to walk 10,000 steps
- Can’t sit still for 3 minutes and sure as heck can’t be left alone with your own thoughts
- Love the idea of journaling but have never managed to write for 3 days on the trot any time you’ve ever tried.
I call this trying to go From Zero to Infinity … and Beyond! It’s a quantum leap that, like Evel Knievel’s attempts at jumping across large and dangerous spaces on a motorbike in the 1970s, typically ends up with some form of PAIN.
In our Accountability Group in Success Engineers, we help our people navigate through this much like one would work through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, by starting at the base level of the pyramid and not moving up a level until they stabilise and normalise the habit, condition, environment, or other factor of the level they’re currently in.
In simple terms, you don’t try to form a second habit while you’re normalising the first one.
These things that we’ve covered this month all form the foundation of sustainable change, things that you can do to effect and maintain change over the long term. It’s why you stand a much better chance of staying on track than those who are unaware of these things or simply ignore them, chasing quick or easy success.
You’re in business for the long game, not some flash-in-the-pan bursts of success, only to find yourself almost exactly back where you started after each ‘spike’.
So, let’s recap what we’ve covered together over the last couple of articles:
- The Glass Slipper Fallacy would have us ‘shoehorn’ ourselves into an idea that simply isn’t a good fit, because we WANT it to work for us. It leads us to try to force an outcome.
- Survivorship Bias further affirms our desire for the thing we focus on to be a fit, and true. We see only the confirmation of ‘survivors’, those for whom the process or blueprint appears to have worked. What we don’t see are the ‘bodies’ of those whom this success was built on, all the people who also paid, did the work and never achieved results.
- If you’re going to follow or build a Playbook, make sure it’s YOUR Playbook. Blueprints usually don’t work (except in Engineering disciplines). We also put the concept of ‘ladders’ into the mix, as climbing a ladder is akin to working through a process.
- Know what wall you want to place your ladder against. This is the equivalent of knowing what direction you want to be headed in, and where you’d like to end up. We call this ‘What Matters Most’. You need to also understand WHY this actually matters (most). Climbing the right ladder that you’ve built with your blood, sweat and tears, only to find that it was taking you to the wrong place the whole time, is soul destroying, and can take you out of business if you aren’t careful.
- You are unique - but your problems AREN’T. This means that you can get great help and support, just like you experience in The Female CEO Community, to understand and tackle your challenges. Your SOLUTIONS, however, are unique to you, precisely because you and your situation are unique. This is also why blueprints and other people’s Playbooks don’t work.
- Remember: ‘You don’t decide your future. You build your habits, and your habits decide your future.’ If you want to make maintainable, sustainable progress towards What Matters Most to you, building structure and habits is a critical component of that success journey. To think otherwise is naïve, at best, and irresponsibly foolish, at worst.
In your Plan, you need to have a place for this. Behavioural change is the foundation of most business success. It isn’t enough to learn business tricks, build business systems and hit and hope. YOU are the engine that drives your business success, so your personal performance (and therefore your behaviours) underpins that success.
All of this enables you to put mechanisms in place to allow you to see clearly what’s working and what isn’t. THIS is how you begin to ensure that you don’t drift off course (or can course-correct when needed).
Now that we have all of this awareness and understanding of not just what works, but of what can derail us or get in our way, let’s pick this up next month and look at how you use this to build out your process to take you where you want to go.
Because, as surprising as it might seem, that will place you in the top 10% of all small business owners - worldwide! 90% of business owners have no real Plan or set of processes for success, therefore making true success (whatever that means for them) permanently elusive. You, on the other hand, by following this advice, will step off the top of that ladder when you’re ready, and find yourself exactly where you decided to be.
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
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