So you’ve ignited the engine and are ready to blast into the stratosphere. That’s great. You’re going to need that enthusiasm and energy for your success to endure. However, you can’t go about everything all willy-nilly. The entrepreneurial spirit you’ve used to get here will only carry you so far. You need to be smart and work with deliberation.
In The ONE Thing, author Gary Keller asks entrepreneurs a challenging question. “Are you doing things the best that you can do them or the best that they can be done?”
Sometimes the natural way to do something isn’t the best way. And in order to take large strides and make great advances, we have to work against your intuition.
Sitting in your kindergarten class, you may recall picking up a crayon for the first time. You probably gripped it in the palm of your hand like a baseball bat and stabbed and sliced across the page like you were holding a knife. No line was safe. It probably wasn’t until someone showed you how to grip your crayon in the correct way that you actually showed finesse while coloring. And while at the time it may have felt awkward, after seeing the results you knew it was right.
Whenever we reach a natural ceiling of achievement, we need to shake things up and take an unnatural approach.
This is a process we like to call moving from E to P. The entrepreneurial way (E) is the natural way. It’s the all of your ingenuity, energy, and focus wrapped under a tight bow. But, like the first time you picked up a crayon, it isn’t always the best way. That’s why you have to think purposefully (P), and pull in the next model, system, or relationship that is going to give you the next breakthrough. If you want to achieve a level of success beyond your limitations, you’ll need to challenge the way you think.
The stereotypical entrepreneur loves to blaze their own trail. There’s something fun and adventurous about it. But there’s nothing wrong with taking the beaten path – it’s beaten for a reason. It’s a proven way path to get people where they want to go.
If you’ve hit a ceiling, one of the best places to look first for a new, purposeful approach is a proven model or system. Get out there and do some research. Find out if someone has already carved a path for you.
Chances are that every model isn’t an exact fit for your circumstance, but they’ll serve as a good foundation. Because they’re proven, we know that if all else fails, it will work. If you need to get creative to push the model further than it goes, you’ll at least have a soft landing pad to fall back on if everything blows up.
There’s a reason why mail isn’t still delivered by horseback, why we don’t do our taxes by hand, and why we don’t light our homes with candles anymore. When it came down to it, there was simply a better way of getting things done.
Nothing can hamper a business quite like an old, outdated system. The natural, entrepreneurial approach sometimes requires us to build our systems with whatever we have on hand. And while they work in the moment, the bubblegum and paperclips we used to stick it together won’t always work in the future. It’s best if you can challenge your systems to be the best they can be over the life of your business — not just the best it can be in the moment.
One of the best ways to do this is to form a mastermind group with your peers. Getting together and talking with people who are right where you are, or a little bit ahead, is invaluable when it comes to forecasting the challenges your business will face. It’s also helpful when your systems have a hole in them and you need some ideas to help you stay afloat.
One of the things many entrepreneurs find awkward is working through other people. It’s easy to live by the mantra “There is no I in TEAM, but there is a ME.” Whenever something needs to get done, you take the initiative, you supply the energy, and you drive it to the finish line.
When facing a large obstacle, your first inclination is to take the bull by the horns and do it yourself. While this may work in the early goings, you’ll eventually find yourself doing something you’re not that great at, and wind up doing a mediocre job.
No one’s the complete package. Even the greats whose names are tossed around like buzzwords couldn’t do it all on their own. Steve Jobs wasn’t an engineer and couldn’t program worth a lick. Instead of taking the head-first approach and learning how to do those things himself, he leveraged Steve Wozniack. Bill Gates had Paul Allen, Paul McCartney had John Lennon — the list goes on and on. Though they may not have realized it at the time, what each of these greats have in common is that, at some point, they understood that if they wanted to achieve extraordinary success, they would have to be more than themselves.
We should always look for the best opportunity for success. And that may mean placing your eggs in someone else’s basket. Changing your mindset from “I do it” to “Who or what will do it?” is just one of the many transitions along the path of moving from E to P.
So when you find your limits, look for someone else who will help you break through them.
Everyone’s natural ceiling sits at a different height. In some cases and in some areas, the entrepreneurial way will be just good enough to get you by and you won’t have to change. But like Gary Keller tells us in The ONE Thing, when we’re doing the best that we can do and we aren’t satisfied with our results, don’t hesitate to move out of “E” and into “P”. Challenge your thinking, your skills, and your relationships to be what you need to achieve the success you desire.