As entrepreneurs, our journey is almost never complete. There is this constant urge to do the next thing.. There is a new product to launch, a new market to capture, a new competitor to quell. A new revenue goal to achieve, a new milestone to reach..
And if we do sell off our existing company and cash out, there is always another company to build!
In this ever changing and evolving goals, the key is for us to enjoy the journey as the reward in and by itself. If we dont enjoy the journey for itself, this becomes one of the most difficult and the toughest job in the world.
Now, this is easy to say but difficult to do. So, how do we ensure that we enjoy the journey:
- Purpose: Know why we started on this journey. Keep it written on a small visiting card and in your pocket. When things get difficult, as they will, take it out and read it. This sense of purpose and the “why” gives us the determination and grit needed to survive and overcome the current challenge (whatever it is).
- Priming: One other way that we can continue to enjoy the journey is by priming ourselves to enjoy the journey. When we get up in the morning and tell ourselves that this is an amazing ride that we are on and are one day closer to our success, it primes our brain to look for everything that corraborates this world view.
- People: Hire people whom you would love to take home and have fun with. The entrepreneurial journey is tough by itself, dont make it harder by hiring people who are axxholes and who bring a lot of angst and negativity in your life. Be extra careful to hire people who bring in energy and are also fun to be with. THis doesn’t mean that you don’t look for competency. This means that just being competent is not enough. That is just the baseline for someone to quality to get considered.
- Progress: Another thing that most of us fail to do is to see the progress we have made. There is solid research that indicates that if we are able to see the progress we make on a daily basis, we are in a much better position to persevere. You could do this by designing the day so that there are a lot of tiny wins that you see through out the day. These are small little challenges that you need to overcome and once you do, taking a moment and celebrating them.
- Play: At times we get so focused on our work that we push not only ourself but our teams to the brim of breakdown. The best way to avoid this is to schedule play time wth our team. There are two ways to do this. First is that we block certain time blocks in a week or once in two weeks which are designated play times. This is when we go out and play with our teams and create a easy, relaxed environment so that we can all unwind. The second way is to bring in elements of play in everything that we do. It could come up in the way we brand our company, product, the way we run our meetings, the way we engage with our customers/partners, the way we hire, etc. You get the flow. Play becomes a thread in our culture. THe first way is easier to implement than the second one. I would prefer a combination of both. I would love to work and lead a company where play is encouraged in every form and fashion and then there is also a designated date/time specifically to unwind as a team together.
It is important for all of us to celebrate the journey much more than the moment when we achieve the goals that we set out to achieve. In this post I talk about a few ways that we can make the journey more fun and celebrated. There can be a lot more ways that we can do this. What is critical here is that we need to make it intentional to enjoy the journey. It is extremely easy to get bogged down in the whirlwind that is running an enterprise to lose sight of the importance to enjoy the journey. So, as a leader it is important to let others in our team know that it is their responsibility to point it out to us when we lose track of this important insight, so we can get back on track and start enjoying the journey again.
Entrepreneurship is fun, challenging and immensely rewarding (emotionally, financially, psychologically, spiritually and socially). Let’s make sure we enjoy our ride!
Questions that matter the most by Mukesh Gupta
When we look at all the aspects of leadership, there are three core and fundamental questions that matter the most to the people whom we intend to lead.
Do You Know What You Are Talking About?
The most important aspect of leadership, then is competence. Do we know what we are talking about? Do we know what the ground reality is? Do we understand the process enough to make sense? Do we know where we are going? And why? This competence creates a level of respect for us as leaders, without which there is no leading. If the people we follow don’t respect us and our competence, they are not going to follow us. We would have failed even before we got started.
Can I trust you?
Once they respect us as individuals and for our competence, next comes trust. Do we do what we say we do? Do we have double standards or gold standards? Do we live up the values that we expect others to live up to? Are we transparent about our intentions? Do people have to second guess everything that we say? Is there enough trust amongst both sides of the leadership equation that honest conversation about difficult topics can be had without any personal repercussions?
Do you care about me?
Once people respect our competence and trust our intentions, they need to see that we care about them and their needs. A leader who only cares about himself and his growth soon finds himself stuck and all alone. Leadership is all about people. Leadership and leading people is actually a misnomer. There can only be people following someone and not someone leading a set of people. Following is an act of independent will. Anything else, will not last. Anything else doesn’t matter. So, if we want people to follow us, we need to show them that we care for them and also show why it is important for them to go in the direction that we want to lead them towards.
Irrespective of whom we want to lead (team at work, spouse and children, a community, a nation), the three most important characteristics that we need to develop in ourselves are competence (that gets us respected), sound character (that elicits trust) and learning that it is not about us but about those whom we intend to lead (to show them that we care).
The ability to communicate well, the ability to think big and every other leadership skill needs these foundational traits to work.
I read a post by Mitch Joel (one of my insanely awesome people) where he proposes a 7 step model to define what could be our centre of excellence. Please do read his post here.
I wanted to do this exercise and the result is as below:
- The Tactic: My tactic of my primary output is content, just like Mitch himself.
- The Format: My format is text and audio.
- The Frequency: This is a place where i need to improve significantly. I have committed to myself that i will create content everyday in text and at least once a week in audio.
- The Triangle of Attention: Here i have a slightly different take than Mitch. I don’t have three topics where i spend my attention, it is 5 – Sales, Marketing, Innovation, Leadership & Entrepreneurship. So, for me its a pentagon, rather than a triangle.
- The Bullseye: My bull’s eye is “Innovation”. For me, the primary focus is to find ways to bring innovation to every field of my focus to see how I can become an agent of transformation for my audience, their businesses and ultimately, their lives.
- The Promoter: I promote my content primarily on twitter and some specific whatsapp groups that i am a part of. Some of my content is also syndicated on other much more popular sites, so that helps as well. I know that this is not sufficiently large group of people. This is something that I am going to continue to work on, so that i can increase the impact that my thinking has on this world.
- The Analysis and Adjustment Bureau: I do continue to explore which of my content works. What I haven’t done, at least not as effectively as I would need to, is to understand the reasons why the content that works and why something doesn’t work. This is another area of learning for me, just from doing this exercise.
As you can see, just by going through this 7 step process, I have been able to identify at least two areas that I need to focus and improve on, so that I am able to create a unique brand for myself around my topics of interest.
I would now strongly urge each one of you reading this, to go ahead and do this exercise – for yourself and if you are a business owner or a product owner, do this for your business and the product as well. You will be surprised at the level of clarity you will have once you have gone through this exercise.
If you do go ahead and do this exercise, I would love to know if it helped. Also, if would be great if you could also leave a comment on Mitch’s blog page with the result, so he knows that his model actually helped you clearly articulate your priorities and that he is having an impact on this world, one person at a time.