The only consistent person in your business is you. When everything falls apart all eyes are on you.
Tetris. Maybe the most addictive game I’ve ever been a part of with the exception of when flappy birds came out. I’d play Tetris for hours at a time wearing my gameboy batteries out and straining my eyeballs to hold out for that next block. Those screens were horrible! When you start the game it’s easy to lay the blocks to create successful lines. The blocks move slowly downward allowing ample time to rotate and move them around. You actually get frustrated at the pace of the game and hit the down arrow to slam those blocks into place all the while proud of yourself for being the Tetris BOSS! As the levels get higher the game play quickens. When did my hands start sweating? Faster and faster the blocks descend making your brain switch gears and actually start having to pay attention. About the halfway point of blocks filling your screen you remind yourself to relax and think clearly about the next move, but oops! You didn’t rotate quick enough and got stuck on the wrong ledge. Now you’re up a creek because the flurry of dispassionate blocks won’t stop and give you the time to sort out the mistake. 3/4 of the screen is full and frantically you’re placing more and more blocks desperate for the really long one, otherwise known as the saving grace, but it never seems to be up next.
I need more Z shaped blocks!! Said NO one ever.
The screen is nearly full of strategically placed blocks but it’s as if you’ve dipped your hands into a bucket of butter trying to keep a hold of your grease block gameboy. Then a sibling comes out of nowhere and says, I want a turn, all the while trying to rip it from your hands. MOM! Frantically, you’re mashing buttons, heart pounding, THIS IS THE FURTHEST I’VE EVER MADE IT and there it is!!! The long block. Your saving grace. Widening the gap from failure to success ya flip the block and slam it into place thus reestablishing yourself as the avatar “Tetris BOSS”. Stiff arming your sibling you’re reminded the game is not over as the music speed increases. You’ve advanced to another level and the blocks are unrelenting and faster than before.
Tetris has a funny way of illustrating business. Segway!
One bad move and it affects the whole game, but the game doesn’t stop to let you fix the mistake. The next block will always drop whether you like it or not and someone will always be upset that you’re playing the game they want. Dang! Come on. That last one was good, right?! I digress.
So how do you navigate these waters? When you first start your business it’s easy. The pace is slow and you desire nothing but to speed it up, adversely, when you’re at the exhausted point of only two safe lines remaining on the screen you’d love nothing more than to go back to the times when it wasn’t as stressful.
So, you screwed up again.
I had a friend talk with me a while back and reminded me of all the times I’ve screwed up and I had placed my blocks incorrectly. I know what you’re thinking, SOME FRIEND! Trust me he’s the best for bringing it up and I needed to hear it at the time to gain clarity for where I’m going. But, I felt pretty low after the conversation. I mean incredibly low.
It’s interesting how the negatives are so loud and the successes you’ve had are a whisper.
Keeping in mind that there are two sides to every story and the side everyone hears about is from the client or contractor who doesn’t love you for one reason or another. They didn’t do what they said they were gonna do. You’re the bad guy. They didn’t do a good job on the project. You’re the bad guy. The client changes their mind and you don’t agree. You’re the bad guy. You have a business idea that doesn’t succeed immediately. Bad guy. The only consistent person in your business is you. When everything falls apart all eyes are on you. No one knows your side unless you’re able to tell them, but that requires you to pause the game and loose momentum.
Have I always been in the right? Man, I wish I could say yes, but I’ve made some bad choices in life and in business. However, I learn from mistakes. I’m an optimist sailing through realist waters. Every successful person has failed beyond count.
- Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- Oprah Winfrey was publicly fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore for getting “too emotionally invested in her stories.”
- Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times.
- Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
There are 1000’s. Google it for some encouragement.
Should you let poor decisions you’ve made in your past prevent you from trying to move forward with a new challenge or a revamped one? The answer is NO. I’m not sure I could pound those two letters on the keyboard any harder. No! You shouldn’t. I shouldn’t. We shouldn’t. I have a few misplaced blocks, as I’m sure you do to, that I need to work my way back down to fix, but they’re good reminders of how and where I made a mistake. Do better! We can’t let fear and doubt creep into our hearts and minds. Don’t loose confidence in you. You got this!
Let me bring it back down with some slow jams.
Ya need time to chillax. You shouldn’t jam your schedule up so tight you don’t have room to get your head out of the weeds. This is an area I’ve been EXTREMELY guilty of. You have to refresh and reset to enable yourself to succeed. Keep your game somewhere in the middle to allow for those times when life and business are throwing nothing but Z blocks your way. Most importantly, play your own game. Not anyone elses. It’s their limitations that are being bound to you. Not your own. Prove them wrong. I’m pumping myself up here!
Z BLOCKS REVISITED
But Slamming the Blocks into Place is SO Gratifying.
Growth of any kind–too fast and the roots needed for sustainability are shallow and superficial. Too slow and the world speeds by in an ‘84 Cutlass Supreme, throwing a red slurpee at your back, while cackles of laughter emanate out of the peeling tinted windows, and a voice yells, “Slowpoke!” (Screw you, JEFF!)
Slamming the blocks too early WILL misplace the most important processes that your business’s foundation requires you to build on.
Remember when you got that “some assembly required” item from that one store (vague enough)? You and your family were so supercharged to start putting it together that you confidently threw the build instructions out. Tearing open all the finely organized, vacuum-sealed pouches that contained the screws, nuts, bolts, and the multi-tool that will soon become an enigma for how fast it was lost, you’re optimistic at how easy this is going to be. Halfway through, you’ve run out of correct pieces, and the contents of your well-organized build is scattered all around you. Worse yet, your kids were “helping” put it together, and we all know what that means.
Overwhelmed, you search for the box, not yet ready to admit defeat, and glance at the marketing pictures of what a completed one should look like. Not helping . . . yours looks nothing like the pictures. Well, maybe I should use duct tape? Creative thinking, yes, but it’s when you start to take the time and READ THE INSTRUCTIONS found in the trash that you find your mistake. And then you have to disassemble all the painstaking hard work you’ve put towards your project.
Believe me; I know from experience that taking apart the business while those who depend on you still require the fruit which it produces is far more time-consuming, stress-ridden, and challenging than if you wouldn’t have rushed the process by slamming those Tetris blocks in the first place.
Here’s Your Early Stage Objectives:
- Step 1: Primary Aim
- Step 2: Business Development Process
- Step 3: Organization Strategy
- Step 4: Management Strategy
- Step 5: People Strategy
- Step 6: Marketing Strategy
Hash these out while the pace is manageable.
These thoughts were provoked from failures in my own life and the inspiration and early stage objectives was gathered from the book E-Myth Revisited. Get the book.