It’s a jungle out there. Which animal are you?
The entrepreneurs I work with most successfully typically represent one of three members of the animal kingdom:
- the mynah birds are continually seduced by shiny objects, AKA anything that’s touted as new, exciting, sure-fire, or what “all successful ____________ are doing”; unfortunately, the ongoing flitting from one idea to the next means they don’t spend enough time with any one of them to get decent results
- the hamsters on their wheels are the ones who are so busy running that they rarely, if ever, slow down enough to evaluate whether what they’re so busy with is the smart thing to be doing; rather than try to do what makes the best sense, they exhaust themselves trying to everything possible
- the deer in the headlights are those who see so much that needs doing that they get overwhelmed; they typically handle that overwhelm by becoming inert and paralyzed (and that’s the best-case scenario; worst case is curling up in a fetal position and whimpering)
Who’s your animal alter ego? (If you’re extremely versatile, like me, you may have found yourself channeling more than one of them at different times.)
While critters have a whole lot to recommend them in general, they’re really not the best role models for successful entrepreneurs. So what can you do if you seem to have an unhelpfully close affinity for one of these feathered or furry friends? Here are some strategies that will shift your behavior closer to that of Homo sapiens.
- Shut it down! Are you actively (and strategically) working in that program? If not, close the damn window so it doesn’t distract you.
- Continually ask yourself how this new and improved product/platform/ approach will move your business forward. If you can’t, it doesn’t deserve your time, attention, or money.
- Know when to quit. You’ll be less tempted to try everything all at once when you remind yourself you have a strategic plan for experimenting with and evaluating new business-building tools.
Help for hamsters:
- The tried and true To Do list really will help – if you use it right. Take a deep breath and limit today’s list to the three things that will move you most effectively toward your important goals.
- Stop trying to do it all! Remember that “no” is a complete sentence; use it accordingly with others and – especially! – yourself.
You can’t be effective if you’re not brave and committed.
- Choose to live by faith rather than by fear. When I over-commit, it’s because I’m afraid of missing out on something important. But everyone who tries to do everything will end up doing nothing well. Don’t be a ne’er-do-well.
- Do a dump: Get all those overwhelming ideas down on paper so they’re not clogging your brain. You’ll find it easier to distinguish activities that are really worthwhile from those that are likely to have a low ROI.
- Do something! Feeling overwhelmed makes it very easy to turn away from all the things you could be doing so you can find a nice corner to curl into while you suck your thumb. (Personal experience with this, Kath? Nope, nope; not me, no sirree. Just using my imagination…) One of the best ways to break through paralysis is to take action, even if it’s just a baby step.
- Let go of the need to “get it right.” Building a successful business is an iterative process, which means you get to experiment, assess, and do more or less of the same thing, depending on what sort of feedback you get from the market. So just give yourself permission to implement Deer Strategy Number Two and do something to move yourself forward. Remember George Patton’s observation: “A good plan…executed today is better than a perfect plan next week.” Be willing to be good.
So…What kind of animal does business-building bring out in you? Which of the appropriate strategies sound like they’ll work for you?
Or can you feel yourself falling back into animal mode just by reading this? Here are some clues this may be happening to you:
- If you’re a mynah, you may devote a few days or a few minutes to one of the strategies, but you’ll soon be lured away by another great idea.
- If you’re in hamster mode, you’ll tense up because you feel you’ve got more to add to your already burdensome Too Much To Do list.
- If you’re a deer, you may well turn away from this post and comfort yourself with a game of Candy Crush.
But there’s another option for anyone out there in the wild kingdom: Grab a spot in my calendar for a get-acquainted call to see if you and I would do good work together. If you and I turn out to be well suited to each other, we’ll make huge strides in getting you out of that unproductive animal behavior and, instead, start developing some habits that will propel you toward the success you’re currently struggling for.
(BTW, thanks to Ron Cogswell, Haundreis, and Eric Chan. They posted their images of the mynah bird, hamster, and deer, respectively, in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in effectiveness and tagged productivity. Bookmark the permalink.
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