Setting great Rocks is one of the most difficult and misunderstood elements of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), but getting them right is the difference maker to ensure you achieve your business goals.
Are you spread too thin? Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? You may be a victim of the Paradox of Success.
It was Socrates who said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” I remember as a child observing my parents, and as I reflect back on those days, a piece of me longs for the simplicity.
My father was a very successful entrepreneur. Born in 1927 and growing up dirt poor in Chicago following the Great Depression, my father went on to build multiple successful businesses, chair multiple boards and foundations, and was honored both with the High Point University baseball field carrying his name and being voted High Point, North Carolina’s 1987 Citizen of the Year. He was a great philanthropist and accomplished a great deal.
But every evening he would come home from work around 6:00 pm and watch the news. At 7:00, we would have dinner at the dining room table as a family…and talk. We traveled often. In the summertime after dinner, he and I would throw the baseball or football until dark, and in the winter months, we would watch TV as a family or just talk. He never stayed up late working after I went to bed. He never missed a game because he was too busy. Success did not require busyness in the 1970s and 80s—nor does it need to today.
I recently turned 49. He was 44 when I was born. In the passing of a generation, so much has changed. Our work follows us home because we are constantly connected. If we don’t make an effort, our family time is overrun by screens. Even on our weekends, we get lured into checking email. And with our family, we rarely, as Mr. Miyagi said in Karate Kid, “Look eye!”
Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day…” Touché.
The Paradox of Success
In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown describes a “paradox of success.”
With success come opportunities and more options. But these options and opportunities often distract us and lure us away from what is truly vital in our life. Oh the temptations…I have heard their siren songs many times, and wrote about it in my Amazon Best Selling book, RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur. Our clarity begins to fade. We take on too much and find ourselves juggling too many things. No longer able to go a mile in one direction, we find ourselves fighting to go barely an inch in a million directions.
Ultimately, our success becomes the foundation of our failure.
Less but Better
Finding your way to a life based on the idea of less but better will yield three significant outcomes: more clarity, more control, and more joy.
One way to begin the process of shedding the things that have become distractions is to think about the handful of things in your life that are truly vital. For me, it is time with my wife, connection with my adult sons, travel, time for health and fitness, time for living my faith, and time for helping others. What are yours?
Once you know the answer, you can begin to make a list of all the things you pack into a day, a week, a month, and a year. Of the things on that list, which of them actually increase your capacity to spend time on what is vital and which things on the list detract from the same? Start small, but start. Begin the process of saying “no” and shedding the things that are taking away from your time to focus on what is vital.
When you do this, as Greg McKeown says, “Every day it becomes more clear than the day before how the essential things are so much more important than the next most important thing in line.”
As you continue to shed the distractions, you will find that fewer people have control over your time and your life, and instead, you become increasingly in control. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else surely will.
When you are able to focus with clarity on the handful of things that are vital in your life, you will find yourself more focused in the moment. Free from distraction, you will be able to live life more fully. It was the Dali Lama who wrote, “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.”
I think he is right.
Learn more about how The TRACTION Hub can help you and your organization clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision. Schedule a discovery call to see if EOS® and The TRACTION Hub are a good match for your organization.
Written by Michael Erath, Master Facilitator, Certified EOS Implementer™, Best-Selling Author and Founder of The Traction Hub
When you drive your car, do you keep the engine redlined, ignore the warning lights on the dash, and turn up the radio so you don’t hear the noises coming from somewhere underneath? My hope is that you don’t. So why do so many entrepreneurs do exactly those things when driving their business and trying to scale up?
I may be dating myself, but for those of us who learned to drive a manual transmission, you know that in order to shift gears smoothly you have to ease off the throttle. If you have ever driven on icy, slick roads, you know that if you lose traction, you have to slow down to regain your grip.
Running a business is no different. I was recently facilitating an EOS® quarterly off-site with a leadership team of a growing business. They had just opened their second location and their big goal, or Core Target™ as we call it in the EOS® world, was to systemize the model and scale up to 20 locations by 2025. Their Visionary owner had been passionately driving toward that goal since we met.
But there was a problem. They were running into customer-service issues, having trouble hitting numbers, not communicating well, and struggling to define and document their Core Processes.
As we began to dig deeper into what the underlying issues truly were, to a person, the Leadership Team members all admitted to being stretched well beyond their capacity. To use the analogy above, they were all redlined and the Visionary owner still had her foot on the gas and the pedal to the floor. They needed to speak up and just say no to grow.
I was eventually able to push the team to the point of being 100% open and honest with the Visionary about the aggressive drive to the Core Target™ and how they were struggling to scale up while the engine for their growth sputtered and skipped as it needed a tune-up. After some very open discussions, the Visionary began to have a revelation.
We transitioned into a conversation about what it would look like to take a breath for the next 6-12 months, focus on fine-tuning the engine and letting growth happen organically, and then, only after the engine was rebuilt and ready, hitting the gas and going hard for the finish line.
With a fresh perspective from the Visionary and a much relieved and refocused Leadership Team, we refined their 3-Year Picture™ and 1-Year Plan, then set Rocks to focus on an alignment around solving their internal issues and tuning the business to scale up in years 2, 3, and beyond.
6 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Blow Your Engine
- Do we have the growth engine for our business well tuned and ready for the journey ahead?
- Do we have a clear structure in place, defining the flow of accountability to get us to the next level?
- Are all of the right people in the right seats?
- Does everyone in the organization share our Vision? Are we all 100% aligned?
- Is our Business Playbook (our Core Processes) defined, optimized, documented and Followed by All?
- Do we have good data and does everyone in the organization have a number?
As we closed our session at the end of the day, the feedback was unanimous. Everyone, including the Visionary, felt more confident and aligned. Even though the pace of external growth may slow for a few quarters, the pace of internal growth will explode. And when the internal growth is strong, this team will be well poised to scale up to their 2025 goal and may even blow it out of the water a few years early.
- Download a free chapter of Michael’s bestselling book RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur.
- Scale Up Faster by Slowing Down: Learn more about The TRACTION Hub and EOS® Implementation by scheduling a discovery call.