Business as Service

July 23rd, 2015 — 5:30am

In developed countries, we get what we need through business. Our cars and the fuel we put in them are produced by businesses. Our food, shelter, furniture, entertainment, tools, and almost everything else we enjoy access to are produced and made available to us by businesses.

If an entrepreneur develops a solution to a problem, and wants to provide society the benefit of that new and better solution, he or she starts a business. Based on the astounding array of products and services I can access in my community and online, I’d say this system of businesses providing what people want and need is working pretty darn well.

Businesses also provide most of the employment opportunities. They provide a structure for people with specialized skills to plug in and become part of the broader products and services the business offers to society. Employees don’t need to be able to provide the whole thing themselves, in order to put their part to good use.

Like all humans, sometimes business-humans use their power for their own gain and hurt others in the process. That’s not a good thing. By and large however, we all benefit tremendously from the abundant supply of items we need, developed, produced, and delivered by businesses.

Business is the primary way people with something to offer interact with other people who need that something. Business is how we organize ourselves to provide for the needs of our fellow residents of earth. Business is the primary way we serve, and it’s a high calling.

Ability and Ego

July 16th, 2015 — 5:30am

Some people have such a strong need to be right, they don’t listen and learn to get better. I know some people like that, and even more disturbing, sometimes I am a person like that. Ouch.

In my flying lessons sometimes I notice myself trying to give my instructor a valid explanation for the mistake I just made. When the conversation has become about someone’s ego, instead of the task at hand, we’ve got a problem.

Some people have incredible skills and ability, but they are also consistently defensive and/or condescending. Sadly, this ego problem negates their value as a member of a team. They have the potential to contribute a great deal, but by rubbing others the wrong way and making it about their emotional need to be right instead of the team outcomes, their potential is mostly wasted.

I also know some people who have a delightful combination of high ability to contribute and low need to defend their ego. In a recent meeting I watched the leader receive some negative feedback, own it, apologize, and suggest a solution, all without getting his feathers ruffled. Ironically, by not trying to defend his right-ness, he raised the level of respect everyone in the room had for him. It was beautiful to see how smoothly the problem got solved, because his ego wasn’t in the way.

I want to be, and surround myself with, more of that.

When Reality Says It Won’t Work

July 9th, 2015 — 5:30am

Last week I said don’t give up just because they say it won’t work. Naysayers and fears don’t have reliable information about your future prospects, but reality does.

If you try out at dozens of auditions and get no call-backs, reality might be telling you it’s not working. If you pitch the product to dozens of qualified leads and nobody buys, something might be wrong with the pitch or the product. If you train hard for the races and you consistently finish outside the top 20%, pro racing may not be a realistic endeavor for you.

There are two potential mistakes here. The first is giving up due to fear, before you’ve given reality a chance to weigh in. This calls for courage and perseverance. Don’t quit until reality shows you where your limit is.

The second is beating your head against a brick wall that reality is telling you isn’t going to budge. This calls for backing up, regrouping, and finding another path forward. Often there’s a way around, under, or over the brick wall. And sometimes you gotta say good-bye to what won’t work, and pick a new destination.

Engage in real attempts and listen carefully to reality’s feedback to tell which is which.

They Always Say it Won’t Work

July 2nd, 2015 — 5:30am

When you are about to do something bold, innovative, or impactful, you’ll feel fear. And there will probably be some people adding their voice to the voice of fear that’s already inside you.

“It won’t work. Who do you think you are? What if it fails? Nobody will notice. Nobody does that. You might get hurt.”

Naysayers aren’t sharing useful information from their experience taking similar risks. (That’s putting it very politely, don’t you think?) For one reason or another, they want you to abandon bold ambition and join them in fear.

Voices of fear will always be present, no matter how good the idea, no matter how well-prepared you are, no matter how promising the opportunity. They are normal. They are not a sign you are about to make a mistake.

Don’t ask the voices of fear for guidance. They are against proactivity of all kinds, and they don’t have any information about your actual prospects. Look to information, analysis, trial and error, and especially the voices of others who dare to engage in work that matters, for clues about the viability of what you are attempting.

The best answer to the voices of fear is to do scary things and live to tell about it.

The Stories

June 25th, 2015 — 5:30am

I’ve spent the week visiting an Aunt, Uncle, cousins, and my 83-year-old Grandma in New Hampshire. I didn’t have much contact with extended family growing up, and a couple of years ago I reached out to get connected to some of them. They’ve been welcoming, and it’s been a wonderful experience.

This week I listened late into the night to my Grandma telling stories of where I come from. I learned things I’ve never known about what shaped our family tree, what shaped my dad, and through him, me. I can know myself and understand myself more fully, knowing more of my history. I’m surprised to learn how much of who I am, good, bad, and quirky, isn’t just randomly me. It flows naturally out of a family history.

If we disconnect ourselves, the people we meet, a culture, a societal problem, or the strategy of a business from it’s history, we probably won’t understand well or respond effectively. Get to know the stories.

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