“Do You Know What You Want?”

It’s a quintessential business question but like a free lunch–the answer is decidedly not free.

The group of especially intense entrepreneurs sat in a Zoom meeting discussing the question above. But it was not the question we were asking each other. Rather, it was the question we ask companies who come to us for advice or help with projects, whether it is marketing, growth, design, education, perhaps, or personnel. It can be anything.

It is not surprising that companies like yours look outside for startups and creatives like those in our group to help you gain clarity on your next challenge.

Is it one of these?

Sales are down. | Employee turnover is up. | Deliveries are late. |It’s time to hire, fire, grow, move, add a product, cut a service. | It’s something else.

You’re stumped, because you don’t know what’s wrong, OR what you want to do to fix it.

We don’t either. But here’s what we’d like you to know. Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you have seen it. Sometimes, that means looking at one option, and another, and another with nothing that looks or feels quite right. It’s like looking for a home. You kinda know what you’re looking for, but you have to go through a lot of no’s before you get to a yes. The kitchen is too small, and even though it appeared there was enough room to expand it, it wouldn’t work. You move on. You haven’t paid the agent a dime. But that’s their job.

That’s the difference. A realtor’s job is to show you a bunch of homes until you find one you like. They don’t “charge” you for that time, and you think small businesses shouldn’t be charging to show you different answers to your problems. That there is a problem. Here’s the thing. If you had some department in your company doing the analysis, scenario building, and defining the resources and assets, boundaries, and constraints for various paths, you would be paying them. The “cost” gets buried in their salaries, but in truth, the opportunity cost is that they’re working on your project, not on someone else’s, or perhaps they’re moving deadlines on their regular jobs for that day.

No Free Lunches

“Do you know what you want?” is not a free question anymore than there are free lunches. Everything costs. When I’m asked “that question,” I can say “No, I don’t know what I want.” But if I begin the analysis seeking solutions so I can answer the question, I should expect to pay for the time it takes to do it.

If it’s MY time, I “pay for it” by pushing another project aside for the moment. I may “pay” by not watching television or by not playing a sport that day. In the generous world of my ZOOM group this morning, we help each other freely. But we pay each other back by asking them “the question” and helping them to answer it honestly and with due diligence of reflection, clarifying comments, and respectful, necessary disagreement sometimes.

Seth Godin says a lot of pithy things, but I’m going to pick this one for now.

“If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” – Seth Godin

If you can’t answer the question, you don’t know what you want and that’s okay. But knowing what you want has immense value. And everything costs.

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If you want more content like this, check out Mickey Mellon’s blog posts. He’s a Seth Godin fan and a deep thinker (and a member of the thought group that originated this blog’s question).

Photo compliments of Pexels Free Photos.

WHAT IF?

At our weekly altMBA check-in meeting, one of our braver souls shared her plan to take six weeks off before embarking on her next “thing.” The thing was not defined, and the six weeks would be time to ponder, reflect, and choose. Or not.

What if you did that? Would you plan a vacation? Take a class? Sneak in some work?

OR, could you somehow push a magic slow-motion button that is spelled break or brake (either one) and step out of your skin to live in the gaps without filling each one with breathless busy?

What IF?

What if you don’t take any time between this thing and the next? Our professional CVs used to shout “loser” if there were gaps, as if to say, “So, you couldn’t find work, huh?” Or, “What was wrong?” or “Did you have a breakdown? Were you sick? You what? You stayed home with your kids?”

So you switch out of Drive and put yourself in Neutral. What if you have two days pass and you have nothing to show for those two days? Can you put away the I’m-useless, this-was-a-bad-idea fear and believe that creating space for your Self to find itself will be a good use of your time, however long that takes?

What if you honored this time? Protected this time? What if you came into an inheritance or won the lottery? And so what if you took even longer? What if you knew you were facing a risky surgery? What if your chance for survival were only at 10%?

Reflection:

Someone in the group talked about the need for reflection in everything we do. Another person asked our brave six-week-off person if she would be fed or drained by the process, or by the decisions she faced at the end of the six weeks.

What if we all had time to ponder our lives, visit our Selves, and find our truth as we’re living through each of our my-brakes-are-broken days?

What if we made a special appointment time to reflect, like we put it on the calendar and didn’t schedule on top of it?

What if?

Photo compliments of Pexels.com.

IMPATIENCE

As with most growth stuff, it doesn’t happen over night. We have to do the work.

I was going to write on something else today, but I had a Headspace meditation this morning that showed a ray of sunlight into working on my impatience (my only flaw) that tries to hide around my persona like a cockroach under the kitchen sink.

You: “Wait. What’s that? Impatience? I want to know too. And make it quick!”
Me: “Hah. You wear the impatience mantle too, I see.”
You: “So, what did Andy Puddicome say? He’s the Headspace guy, right?”
Me: “Yes. That’s correct. I’m paraphrasing, but what I got out of it was the following. Impatience stems from the difference between what we’re expecting and what is really happening.”
You: “Yeah, I see that.”
Me: “Wait. That’s not all.”
You: “Okay. Hurry up, though, please, I have things I gotta do.”
Me: “Well, the next thing is that somehow, in our hurry-up world, we manage to blame someone else for the dissonance. As in, whoever is around is causing you to feel impatient because they’re not moving fast enough, talking fast enough, accomplishing enough, and so on.”
You: “So?”
Me: “So, Andy says that the one to ‘blame’ is ourselves and we need to try to understand in that moment that we have control over how we choose to feel. That realization on its own can reduce the aura of impatience, dare I say, the habit of impatience if we catch it in time.”
You: “Wow.”
Me: “Yeah. Wow, indeed.”
You: Silence.
Me: Silence.

As with most growth stuff, it doesn’t happen over night. We have to do the work. Awareness of the behavior starts the ball rolling, awareness in the moment in time to catch and switch the knee-jerk rutted road of reaction to something different is the hard part for me.

What about you?

Photo compliments of Pexels Free Images.