Set Goals. Build a team of Mentors, Partners, and Proteges. Get Going!
Entrepreneurs take pride in the road less traveled. We often challenge the status quo and pride ourselves in seeing opportunity where others do not.
Last summer I took in a baseball game at Camden Yards (Go O’s!) with a friend from college, Tim, who I had recently reconnected with. Our conversations covered mostly career and family. Tim worked his way up from the call center to being a regional VP of a large company within 8 years. With hard work, savy, good timing, great people skills, and a willingness to relocate, he was has been very successful. Late in the game after I shared my various business goals and stories of past successes and failures, Jim complimented me on my persistence and in doing so stated that he had always taken the path of least resistance and could not imagine doing what I have done.
I’ve been replaying that thought in my mind since then. Getting a business going in the direction we want often takes longer than we want. Of course we can get caught in the traps sometimes of “if I knew then what I know now.” We must remember that learning and growth comes with taking the journey!
“When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It!” — Yogi Berra
Most entrepreneurs envision big success. We tend to have a very clear picture in mind of what success would be. Success means something different to each of us. Tim’s statement forced me to question my definition of success. At times, as entrepreneurs, we consciously avoided the path of least resistance in order to take a larger risk or to pursue what we believe to be an opportunity that no one is is able to or has chosen to pursue. But in business and in life, sometimes the answer is staring us in the face. Sometimes success or progress is within reach but perhaps we delay because it’s not exactly what we had in mind or it didn’t come exactly how we planned it. Must we always resist seizing an opportunity because its not unique or considered innovative? Is there wisdom in knowing when to take the smooth road or when to deal with some bumps with the faith to know something better is ahead? When do you buckle down and accept that you are in position to succeed and now is the time to do the work?
“Move decisively and quickly, but don’t rush” -John Wooden
Is there shame in taking the path of least resistance? I have often thought that there was. I never wanted an ordinary life of 9-5, 2.5 kids, house, wife, etc. I’ve wanted to be a leader in the marketplace. I’ve wanted to do many things, have many businesses, and have the chance to contribute to the community and to those who have less than me on a larger scale. In pursuing this, could I be resisting the path of least resistance? I have found that aggressively pursuing what is right in front of you; pursuing what may be painfully obvious, is the first step in achieving our vision. Entrepreneurs, many of us will make a similar choice at some point. When do we take the path of least resistance, buckle down, and get to work? When do we tweek our vision with the belief that we can be better positioned?
How do we decide? First, have defined goals both short term and long term but emphasize the short term. Set a time line for the both and then re-evaluate every 3–6 months. Have defined metrics for these goals. Don’t go too crazy but having some tangible data to measure progress is helpful. Finally, have great advisers who can help.
There are 3 types of mentor advisers we should seek and all 3 can be valuable for learning and growth. First, seek to mentor someone younger or less experienced then you. Yes, even someone you mentor can provide experience or perspective that you lack. Second, seek out peers to connect with. Third, seek a mentor, or hire a paid adviser or business coach. All three of these can be achieved by joining a CEO roundtable of business owners. I do all of these and the relationships, growth, and learning opportunities have been invaluable.
So stop guessing and start growing! Set your goals and connect with other like minded individuals for that support you need. We can’t succeed with focus or if we’re alone. Learn how to make the best decisions and enjoy the journey and the growth it brings.