Are you getting the results that you crave?
Does it seem like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, with little to show for it?
Why does it seem like the harder you work, the less you get done?
Starting a new business was supposed to be fun, right?
And it was, at first.
Remember day one? Remember the spark that you felt? That powerful surge that coursed through your veins with so much energy you could hardly contain your enthusiasm?
You felt unstoppable.
You set wheels in motion and things just started to click.
You didn’t see what was coming next. You turned a corner and ran straight into a wall.
Messages aren’t returned. Promises are broken. Quitting and walking away seem to be the best options.
When Stopping Momentum Leaves Bruises
Having your momentum suddenly stop hurts. It hurts bad.
As a lineman, or more commonly known as a Pole-Climber, I know this better than anyone.
Thirteen years ago (ack! Wow) I had to learn how to climb during a 2-week training course or I didn’t get the job.
Being deathly afraid of heights made it all the more interesting! If you have ever seen a utility worker going up a pole, you know how they make the task seem so easy, safe and effortless.
I will have you know it is anything but.
Needless to say, on about the 4th day of training, I came crashing down from about 22 feet. The equivalent of jumping off the roof off a 2-story building.
Immediately after hitting the ground, before the crowd could fully gather around me and make sure I was okay, I threw off my belts, hooks, gloves and goggles and stormed out of the pit.
Partly because of embarrassment. Mostly because of frustration. Both of which outweighed the pain I was in.
2 Choices: Regroup or Go Home Jobless
The first day I got the call back for the job I was ecstatic. I had big dreams of six-figure income, lavish vacations and lighting cigars with $100 bills.
All of that vanished at the first roadblock I hit – the ground.
I remember walking out into the middle of the street and down a few blocks halfway in a fog. Didn’t even know where I was going. Not until some time had passed did I realize my shirt was torn, I had splinters in my chest and my chin was bleeding.
What did I do wrong?
I was emulating the instructor exactly. I was following his every move yet I could not get up the pole safely.
Getting away from the training area allowed me to stop and clarify a few things:
- What I was doing right
- What I was doing wrong
- What was working
- What wasn’t working
- And what was my intended outcome
Your Plan of Attack Sucks
Saying it was too hard and giving up would have been easy at that point. No one would think any less of me. Most were expecting me to fail anyway. Wouldn’t want to disappoint now would I?
I am sure you have people around you right now who have, “I told you so,” ready on the tip of their tongues for the very moment you give up on your business.
Make them wait just a bit longer. The idea is good. Remember why you started it and get back to that pole. But this time, do something different.
In the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, they mention the armed forces saying, “No plan of attack survives contact with the enemy.”
Even the best laid plans will be utterly useless once the battle begins.
Heath goes on to say that they no longer lay out exact plans of execution. Instead they give a General Intent.
In other words, HOW you get there doesn’t really matter as long as you clearly define where THERE is.
When you focus on your intended outcome instead of adamantly sticking to a strict set of plans, you are allowed more flexibility to change your actions when you hit a wall – or a pile of sawdust from 22 feet.
Planning in Advance Will Always Backfire
What happens when your plan doesn’t work?
This question will stop your growth dead in its tracks if you do not have the answer.
Have you designed your General Intent?
Instead of spending hours planning out the exact action plan, you should be crystallizing your intended results.
Is your plan to make 500 sales calls a day to build your business? (Specific plan)
Or is your General Intent to increase your bottom line? (General intent)
With the specific plan, you are left with no flexibility. What if after 3 months your 500 calls is not producing any sales at all? Would you continue making the same calls the 4th month because that was part of your plan?
During my “walk of shame” I realized my plan was to copy the instructor’s specific climbing motion to the “T”. But what works for him was obviously not working for me. I had the splinters to prove it.
I realized my general intent was to get up the pole without falling to my death. It was a good plan.
What this realization did was open the door for me to try climbing the pole my way!
Instead of climbing to the top then putting my belt on like everyone else, I walked up to the pole, put my belt on while still firmly planted on the ground and began the slowest most unorthodox climbing routine they had ever seen. But you know what… IT WORKED!
When to Give Up?: Same Goal – New Route
Never give up on your goals. Always give up on how you get there.
When you get those not-so-subtle bruises/clues that things are not working, hesitate on giving up all together and see if you can find another way through.
Assess your results often. The better you become at identifying the most important tasks and taking action immediately, the greater results you will see.
Keep your general intent clearly defined and in front of you and be willing to throw out an entire plan if it is not working – without feeling any frustration at all.
What I do is start with a blank mind map. You can use regular sheet and paper. I put my general intent or desired outcome right in the middle. Then I think of 5 completely different actions that could get that outcome. I go 1 step further and write 5 steps to implementing that action.
So in the end my mind map would look like this:
Now when I meet another fall, I can either try again or take any one of the other 24 actions and know that I am still headed in the general direction of my goal.
I would bet your current action plan has about as many options as I had on my way down the pole – hold on for dear life or let go and fail.
You need to add some forks to that puppy. You need to have a ready supply of options that all lead to the common goal. If one isn’t working, drop it and immediately move on to the next.
Be flexible in your plan but rigid on the results you demand from yourself.
Get Up. Dust Off. Regroup. Kick Ass
Go the extra mile and add a few “Why’s” to your General Intent.
During some of the initial challenges you may have forgotten why you started this thing in the first place. Remind yourself what you’ll feel like when your business becomes wildly successful.
“If YOUR ‘WHY’ IS BIG ENOUGH, THE HOW DOESN’T MATTER.”
Don’t worry about HOW you get there – just get there!
And if you can keep taking action, the good news is, you WILL get there.
You will fall. You will get bruised. Stop. Take a walk. The idea is good but the plan must go.
Never give up on your ideas. Just change plans and keep going. It will be worth it.
You’re not going to let a few splinters stop you, are you?