In Lieu of a Landmark

Lately, I’ve been deep in research, thought, and discovery—it’s my hope this message finds you in a similar headspace as we hit the mid-year mark.

I spent some time looking back on all that we’ve discussed so far this year, and more importantly, the insightful questions we’ve explored (full articles linked):

All of the above discussion has been very relevant to my own pursuits. It’s evolved into the framework of my new focus in business, which is:

  1. Simplify (question everything, audit all output and activities)
  2. Subtract (after you question everything, remove the unnecessary)
  3. Systemize (know what process you’re fulfilling and why)
  4. Streamline (climb atop the business instead of getting lost within it)

But, I’m Still VERY Human.

Which is the most difficult part. Business is made up of very simple formulas, such as Gross Revenue = Number of goods sold x Price per item and Net Profit = Revenue – Cost of Goods. You could even look at the various departments of a business and define clear goals. For marketing, you have two objectives: recruit and retain. In operations, it’s: add value and serve customers well. Simple!

And as easy as that sounds, how often do we forget? 

How often do we get caught up in the doing and the minutia that isn’t feeding any of those basic business goals?

The answer is: ALL THE TIME. It’s human nature. In one of my all-time favorite books on team building, Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz, the author shares a study I can recite by heart—and I’ve done so in many presentations!

It goes like this …

In a 2009 Study by Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics, researchers confirmed that people trying to find their way through a forest or desert devoid of a landmark (or the sun as a beacon) tend to walk in circles as tight as 66 feet.

So much so that, if blindfolded and told to walk straight across a football field (not goalpost to goalpost, but only the width—sideline to sideline), you would never make it to the other side. Instead, you would circle yourself off the field altogether.

In other words, your brain is wired to circle things—that’s a human condition.

And that’s how businesses get overcomplicated, bloated, inefficient, and entirely off the mark from where they set out to go—humans run them. And, let me be the first to admit—I’m 100% human circling the business trying to figure out how to make it go straight ahead.

Here was the conclusion of the study:

Without measures of distance or direction, and devoid of a landmark, human beings (each one of us!) make a continuous stream of micro adjustments as to what we think is straight, but these adjustments are biased to one side.

Hindsight is 20/20

It’s taken me a hiatus of no business + nearly a year of return to outthink my old ways of doing things. The improved approach I’ve discovered and can see differently now could fill books, a blog, and a podcast for years to come!

It took me decades to realize that what comes so naturally and effortlessly to me could meet an external need and be of great value to others. That was my blindspot! Moreover and even after uncovering that blindspot, it took me years to figure out that I could let just this pour out of me as a career.

I erroneously believed a successful business had to be my natural abilities (inspired creation) + a whole lot of “something harder’s.” I mistakenly strategized that it had to be what I was inspired and inclined to do all day + a whole lot of have-to’s and added production. I followed no landmarks! I lost the forest for the trees.

My motto has always been: Your life. Your business. Your way. I had to walk away to come home to that again, and I can hardly wait to share what I’ve learned. Imagine this with me: Inspired creation, effortless delivery. Becoming tuned in to the work that matters most and feeling on purpose again.

What does that look like for you?

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