Death to the business plan

I have many friends that have great business ideas. Yet, many suffer from this idea that you need a fortified business plan in order to begin.

Here’s my advice: Throw away that business plan.

A great business plan doesn’t take months to put together. The best business plans take a couple minutes. And then, you begin.

Business plans are another form of hiding. As the saying goes, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Starting a business is all about improving and inventing. If you are not doing those two things than you are not spending your time in the right areas.

Talking about someday building a business is way sexier than actually making one. It’s hard work spent behind the scene.

How will you measure your life?

The reason why businesses fail is that they invest their time, talent, money and other resources into immediate tangible evidence of achievement.

It turns out, that we do the same thing.

It’s difficult to see on a day-to-day basis if we are raising well-adjusted children. Difficult to see if the relationship you have with your spouse is continuing to grow.

Yet, it’s much easier to point to our careers and see a promotion or to look at the bank account and think we are doing something well if the numbers go up.

It is making us miserable.

We don’t have to measure our life on one axis but rather:

Did I help someone achieve something they never thought they could do?

Did I help someone see the world as it really is?

Do the lessons I teach, are they turned around and taught to other people?

Did I open a door for someone who turned around and opened a door for others?

Money, status, artifacts…they are all easy to measure which makes it so tantalizing to pursue.

HT Clay Christensen. Thank you for all the incredible work you have done…and now comes good sailing.

Write what you don’t know

Here’s the thing, when we write about things we know; we are writing from a place of fear. We are hiding.

And that is pretty boring for anyone to read.

Sure, we are less likely to screw something up. But we are playing it safe.

The alternative is to write about the unknown. The fiction we can dream up or about a topic that is out of our comfort zone.

That’s what’s interesting to the reader. Even if we don’t agree with the writer’s opinion, we at least notice when she takes a stand or picks a side.

Of course, this isn’t just about writing. We are talking about a speech or your master thesis or your corporate proposal.

 

Derangement syndrome

We imagine the worst and then assign those motives to someone who we are most frustrated with.

When, in fact, no rational person would act the sort of way we imagine.

The problem is we only get one set of lenses to see.

We see things from our perspective, we ignore everyone else’s.

That’s why we have a difficult time explaining irrational behavior really.

We are the only rational actors in the room.

ISEP

What did the Easter Islander who cut down the last palm tree say to themselves as they were cutting down the last tree?

I’m not for sure. But at some point, I’m sure someone said, “It’s someone else’s problem.”

Do societies fail by choice then or are they the victim of circumstances?

It’s easy to push blame away. Much more difficult to see things as they really are—especially when they gradually happen. We can’t fix problems unless we can perceive them.

For one, many of us are haven’t been alive long enough to see the changes or perhaps we don’t even know better.

“This is the way things have always been.”

We also tend to rationalize, make things smaller than they actually are to make ourselves feel better.

“Don’t worry, we’ve planted new trees over there.”

Because we can’t live forever, we will act out of our own self-interest. It’s the tragedy of the commons, as they say.

And of course, we are talking about fixed resources. There isn’t an unlimited supply of trees even if they are renewable. We consume more than we create.

There is also short-term thinking, conflicts of interest (hard to change things whenever rely on it for a paycheck), not enough boundaries or regulation, poor decision making, lust for power, status roles, fear, anxiety, short-term thinking…or maybe the problem is so big, we can’t fix it.

Somebody has to fix things when are truly broken. So, when are you going to realize you are somebody? When are you going to stand up and be the difference?

HT Collapse

Awareness

If the video would have asked upfront, “How many guerillas appear?” then the answer would have been completely obvious.

The world is full of information. Too much for any one of us to process.

We have to pick and choose what we pay attention to and ignore the rest.

That’s why they say that sometimes the answer is right in front of our nose because it actually is.

It makes you wonder what passes us every day. What opportunities or people or ideas simply never happen because we are not paying attention.

Instead of focusing on the outcomes, perhaps we should be more focused on what kind of questions we are asking?

What comes next?

When someone claims to know exactly where it is they’re going, they are probably overconfident in their own powers of prediction and decision making.

Because no one actually knows what happens next, not even the so-called experts.

Time will tell whether the decisions we made caused more good than harm.

Which makes long term decisions so difficult. What guarantee do we have we will be here tomorrow to see the fruit of difficult decisions made today?

Again, no one knows.

Perhaps, the problem is we are always trying to win. As a result, we lose.

But that isn’t how the natural order of things unfold. Because let’s be honest, the world doesn’t care.

There is no winning or losing. Only the way events unfold. How we respond (rather than react) is how we succeed.

Help enough people

The great Zig Ziglar used to say, “You can have anything you want in life if you just help enough people get what they want.”

But what if we simply dropped the first part.

And now you have, “Help enough people get what they want.”

Bingo.

Simply, help enough people.

It doesn’t matter if we got what we wanted out of life as long as we helped enough people.

Which pattern are you interrupting?

We get so caught up in the day-to-day grind, focus so much of our time and resources into putting out fires, that overtime, it becomes a regular pattern.

Comfortable with the uncomfortable:

“I can’t possibly go to the gym. I’m too tired in the mornings.”

“I can’t quit right now. That’s too risky in this economy.”

Small decisions that turn into a habit. Habits turn into patterns.

We dip our toe into the waters of change and are surprised to discover that the water is actually cold. Of course, the water is cold! That’s what makes it so hard to dive in.

We retreat back to our old ways.

So, the real question to ask if you are serious about changing things is deciding which patterns are you willing to interrupt for a while?

Are you willing to give up marshmallows?

And if you are seeking to change a part of the culture, how can you help others do the same?

“Tell them about the dream”

In 1963, Dr. King in front of a quarter of a million people said the following:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

“I Have a Dream” has been recognized as one of the most important and iconic speeches in history.

Shockingly, the most quoted and famous passage above wasn’t part of the original text. Dr. King ad-libbed after Mahalia Jackson shouted from behind, “Tell them about the dream!”

That takes guts to improvise in front of that many people. The more important take away though is this: When we speak from the heart, tell a story about our shared vision of the world that does not yet exist; we can enable the impossible.

Stories are what change people’s minds. Tell them, the people you seek to change, tell them about the dream!

Because the world needs you to change things as they are to enable what is to come.