Leap Year

It’s Leap Year! When you check on this statement you may be confused because it might not be officially true – at least according to the calendar. But from an entrepreneur’s perspective, it’s Leap Year. OK – some additional set-up is in order. Let’s think about where we are in our lives and in our careers. What have we achieved? Does it seem like we may be putting one foot in front of the other and carefully walking down the street? Is something holding us back from bursting into a full sprint? Do we have a gnawing feeling that we’re behind the curve and maybe even falling short?

I’d like to tell you a story about a friend of mine. I have his permission to share this, so I’m not talking out-of-school. More than 15 years ago he asked me if I could mentor him in a life-coaching sense. He had a great job with a well-known and highly respected company and was climbing the ladder. He had the opportunity to move to another city with the same company and eagerly did so. He continued to excel in the corporate world and was financially secure. But he was yearning for something more.

This individual had a passion for the outdoors and loved to go rock climbing and whitewater rafting. It was his release from the stress of his daily routine. Eventually this passion became a part-time business. My friend began guiding trips for other entrepreneurs that had a similar passion for the outdoors. He became a master at juggling his day job with his new hobby-business. Ultimately, his yearning overtook the conservative, safe side of him and he quit his very lucrative corporate job to work for himself. Today, I am proud of the fact that he has built a successful company providing a wide range of guided outdoor excursions to a variety of destinations.

Of course the path taken by my friend was neither direct nor smooth. He struggled mightily to make the final decision to take the Big Leap. But in the end he did and it has paid off mightily for him. He is a happy man who is in charge of his own destiny and blessed to be able to provide a good life for his family. So, how did he do it?

The Big Leap is undoubtedly different for each of us. But it requires some of the same basic elements. First, is the element of Strong Desire. Do we really want it? The Big Leap can happen when Strong Desire becomes overwhelming. We really, really want something to happen. It’s stuck in our consciousness every day. It’s a craving. All we can think about is that which we envision becoming a reality for us.

The second element is that of Knowledge. My friend amassed considerable Knowledge by experimenting with his business ideas while still working his full-time corporate job. He did this for a period of years – not weeks or months – and was able to learn what worked and what didn’t. He achieved a deep understanding of the market opportunities as well as the pitfalls to avoid. And the more Knowledge he gained, the more his Strong Desire became even stronger.

The third element is that of Confidence. I watched with admiration as my friend’s Confidence soared over time. His Strong Desire supported by Knowledge had become a quest. We worked through an Opportunities-to-Fail exercise where we inventoried all of the risks we could think of and how he would mitigate those risks. This all unfolded in a measured way. We didn’t rush but we also didn’t tarry. His Confidence grew as the result of a process.

Finally, the last element of the Big Leap is that of Faith. I’m not referring to Faith in a religious sense. Instead it’s a belief that goes beyond the empirical nature of Confidence. In this case, my friend had reached the point where his Strong Desire, Knowledge and Confidence coalesced to produce a belief that he would absolutely succeed. Oh sure, there were still moments of doubt. But they didn’t shake his Faith that he would be able to make his new venture work.

We can make every year Leap Year. When we’re ready to shake out of the same-old, same-old and take that next big step, we can do so when the four elements of Strong Desire, Knowledge, Confidence and Faith are combined to buttress the big idea that we have.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 30 – 980 by 600.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

skydiving

Big Mo

Question: Some people seem to be on a roll with everything going their way. How can I get some of that?

Answer: What you are suggesting is like a sports team. The team begins to win some games and the next thing you know they’ve put together a pretty impressive winning streak. Did you know that the 1916 New York Giants baseball team won 26 games in a row? The college basketball UCLA Bruins recorded 88 consecutive wins between 1971 and 1974. And at 17 – 0 the 1972 Miami Dolphins was the only NFL team to win the Super Bowl with a perfect season.

What did these teams have in common? They were able to use their talent optimally. They executed the basics and fundamentals of the sport they were playing. They had a solid game plan. They were well-coached. They had confidence and faith in their abilities. And they absolutely positively believed that they would win. What a powerful combination of factors! Blended together they created momentum.

We’ve all seen momentum in our business and personal lives. A company creates a winning product and can do no wrong. It captures an ever increasing percentage of market share and then garners a lot of favorable press. This in turn creates more demand for its product and feeds the momentum. But how do we build momentum for ourselves and our businesses? What if we don’t have that magical product or service that gets all the buzz?

We can create our own momentum following the same pattern as the great sports teams that put together incredible winning streaks. It’s incumbent upon us to assemble a team that has top flight talent. Are there team members who don’t have the talent we need? If so, it will be difficult to gain momentum. Do we pay attention to the basics and fundamentals of our business? Is our customer service second-to-none? Is our product the best that we can build? Do we have a sound business strategy? Our game plan must be well-thought and proven to work successfully. How can we create a winning streak if we don’t have such a strategy in place? Is our team well-coached? Do we micro-manage our teammates? Are people held accountable? All of these elements will build momentum. But there’s one thing that will push us over the top and sustain that momentum. Do we have confidence in our abilities? Do we really truly believe that we will win? Individuals and teams that continuously win have an everyday belief that they will always win. And if they do suffer a loss, they get right back in the winning groove the next day.

The most powerful aspect of momentum is faith. It’s the humble belief that we have the ability to win and nothing can shake that belief. There’s never a shadow of a doubt in our being that we will succeed. Believe in momentum and it will be so.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

locomotives

Clouds

Question: I’ve made great progress toward becoming successful but I find myself feeling a great deal of fear at times. I know that I’m afraid of failure and all the consequences associated with it and I know it is holding me back. How do I overcome this fear?

Answer: Fear kills. It kills dreams, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Fear can be paralyzing. You are wise to declare that you want to overcome it. Some people say that fear can be motivating – that having a bit of fear is a good thing. I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I can find plenty of positive things to motivate me and the negativity of fear is not one of them. Removing fear from our consciousness is a process and should be treated as such. I realize that this may sound somewhat clinical but I’ve found that gaining a thorough understanding of the root of a fear is an important first step.

Over the years I’ve heard entrepreneurs discuss a myriad of fears including public speaking, losing a big client, encountering poor health, financial issues, entering into a romantic relationship – you name it and I’ve heard it. But overcoming these fears has one thing in common. The root cause of the fear must be identified before it can be resolved. Doing this may require some introspection and more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Thirty years ago I found myself flying on airplanes every week. I had a young family at the time and developed a severe fear of getting on a plane. My stomach was tied up in knots; I began to sweat; I’d feel faint, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was all I could do to force myself to walk down the jet way. I was convinced that the odds were against me and plane was going to crash. After months of trying to fight the anxiety I finally began to search for the root cause. I realized I was afraid of leaving my small children without a father – and to some extent I was afraid of death itself. I worked with my minister to understand where this came from and gradually the fear disappeared. Having always been fascinated with airplanes I began studying the mechanics of flight, started taking flying lessons and eventually bought a plane of my own. How’s that for turning the tables on fear?

My dad had a terrific saying, “Your troubles are like the clouds. Tomorrow they will be gone.” Our fears can also be like dissipating clouds if we don’t try to fight or suppress them. Instead we must go inward and find the source of our fear. Then gently and easily we release it to be replaced with confidence and faith.   

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.