In today’s episode, Jeff Boss shares four startup frameworks for how to prepare for chaos and the unknown, and why developing a personal leadership philosophy allows you to clarify who you really are.
The Chaos of Startups: 4 Startup Frameworks to Navigate Entrepreneurial Chaos and Start Off RIGHT.
Episode 25: Show Notes.
In today’s ChaosCast we dive into preparing for chaos and the unknown. Developing a personal leadership philosophy is important because it allows you to clarify who you really are. It separates who you are as a leader, team member, employee, spouse, or friend from who others want you to be. Navigating chaos of any sort demands clarity. Clarity of values and purpose, clear goals and strategies to achieve them, and clear metrics for how success will be defined. What gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets improved. As a start up, it’s no secret that chaos abounds and does not slow down. This is why it is critical to lay the groundwork for yourself and start off right for your business, your team, and yourself so that when you find yourself in chaos, you do not need to think; you just act. The fact is, you do not want to find yourself in chaos and uncertainty and not know what to do because your priorities are unclear. You want to be prepared for the uncertainties within the chaos.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Understand why it is important to develop a personal leadership philosophy.
- Why clear goals and strategies can help you prepare for the unknown amidst chaos.
- Learn why problems never go away, they just improve and lead you to the next.
- Discover how to find certainty in uncertain situations, and the steps to get you there.
- Understand why sometimes you’ve got to slow down in order to speed up.
- Hear the analogy of the woodcutter teams, and taking the time to focus on what is important.
- Learn why a personal leadership philosophy is the thing that represents your brand.
- Discover the definition of a framework and why it is the major starting point for your business.
- Understand the four key startup frameworks to start your business off right.
- Why it is important to identify your lifestyle ambition and then align it with your business.
- Learn the difference between starting your day and attacking your day.
- Find out why identifying your top priorities and scheduling your day can propel you forward.
- The importance of exercising to gain energy and clarity for increased productivity.
Today's chaos cast episode is especially timely because I'm coming at you from Tampa, FL where I'm attending a 3 day leadership with one of the aims being to develop a personal leadership philosophy.
And the reason why a personal leadership philosophy is important is this:
If you're a startup, a leader of a team, a business leader or somebody without "leader" in the title but leads nonetheless,
Then having personal leadership philosophy is what allows you to clarify who you really are--as a leader, as a team member, as an employee and even as a spouse or friend--versus who you think your team member, employees or even your friends or family wants you to be.
Navigating chaos--of any sort--demands clarity;
Clarity of values
Clarity of purpose,
Clear goals, clear strategies to achieve those goals and clear metrics for how success will be defined (because what gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets improved).
As a startup--and even as a business no matter what industry you're in--chaos….abounds.
And you know what? it doesn't slow down either,
which is why it's critical--essential--to lay the groundwork for yourself and for your business FIRST so that WHEN you find yourself in chaos, you don't need to think, you simply…act.
The fact is, You DON'T want to find yourself in chaos or uncertainty and NOT know what to do because you're priorities are unclear,
You're caught in analysis paralysis trying to DECIDE in which direction to move.
Folks, it doesn't matter which way you head when you're getting shot at, as long as you move ELSEWHERE.
And it's easy to find yourself lost in chaos because, well, that's the very definition OF chaos: complete disorder and disarray; unplanned, unexpected change; unpredictability.
So-- I know what you're asking--with all these unknowns how do you have plan? Because doesn't the definition of the unknown connote, well, uncertainty? How do you make something from nothing?
Well, that's the secret that I think everybody pursues. In fact, I think that's the purpose of life: to discover that which hasn't been discovered yet;
To problem solve…and then solve again.
Because if you really think about it--and this goes back to episode #8 and the whole concept of "chaos is freedom"--if you really think about it, chaos is a ladder;
It's a ladder to another rung and on that next rung there are all sorts of problems, because that's what chaos really presents, right? Problems.
Except what happens if you don't climb that rung? If your mission is to climb that ladder and you DON'T put your next step forward if you don't solve whatever problem is on that rung, then you stagnate. You stalemate and you die--because complacency is synonymous with stalemating.
What I'm trying to convey here, in probably, not so eloquent terms,
is that problems--solving problems--offer a cycle of purpose, and when you find purpose, you find happiness.
Here's what I mean.
Have you ever noticed that problems never go away, they just improve?
When you sell your first 10 widgets and make your sales numbers earlier than expected, you're now EXPECTED to hit that quota every quarter. More is expected of you BECAUSE you solved that sales problem.
Your problem didn't go away, they just improved.
When you decide to hit the gym and you actually do it, your problem of actually getting to the gym is solved, but now there's the problem of pushing yourself, and sweating, and being uncomfortable. Your problem didn't go away, it just improved.
OR, you set yourself a goal of sending out tweets or Facebook live broadcasts every Wednesday at 1pm, for example--and you do it for 2 weeks. Except now, people are expecting to see you on those channels because you have a compelling message but coming up with new content isn't easy,
Your problems didn't go away, they just improved.
And ADDRESSING those problems--all those unexpected, unanticipated and unpredictable moments of chaos that those problems bring--is EXACTLY what gives you purpose and EXACTLY what brings happiness because,
Can you imagine living a life without problems--Where everything was perfect, where conflict didn't exist--where "chaos" didn't show up?
How boring would that be?
The feeling of accomplishment, the joy, and the excitement that comes from solving problems, comes from doing--from solving problems that we enjoy having AND enjoy solving.
Chaos brings with it many problems--that's the nature of chaos.
The trick is to identify which problem you want to solve, and then solve it. THAT'S the chaos advantage.
Anyway, to come back to the personal leadership philosophy I was talking about earlier,you always know--at least you should know--what you stand for, and what you don't.
Whenever that same sort of disarray or disorder arose for us on the battlefield, sometimes we had a plan, sometimes we didn't.
But, I'll tell you this: every member of that team knew exactly what he had to do and why. So, in effect, each member had HIS OWN plan, and that plan began with understanding why he was there to begin with,
Because when you know your why, you can then focus on your what.
And once you know your what you can move onto your how
and THAT'S how you make progress; THAT'S how you find certainty in uncertain situations.
I'll give you a quick example…
Whenever something unexpected happened on target there was really only one thing we could do, and it wasn't to curl up in the fetal position and suck our thumbs--or each other's thumbs, that would be weird.
You know what that one thing was?
That's it, it was to listen. Assess. Understand what was going on around us because we need complete understanding first that would inform our next move.
Now what I want to highlight here isn't the value of tactical patience--that's the phrase we used to wait, watch and assess--tactical patience is important, yes, but the higher level strategy here is to know what your values are so you can employ them amidst chaos.
Just think if we didn't value the importance of understanding the environment first; we would've reacted and made a hasty decision.
The same is true in any business environment: understand the environment, the players, the intentions, the risks and rewards, BEFORE your next move,
BUT, don't spend all day waiting. Remember, it doesn't matter what direction you head in a gunfight when bullets are coming at you, just so long as you move elsewhere. Here's a tip that I know I've mentioned before and if I haven't, well, I should've: aim for the 70% solution and adapt the rest of the way.
Don't wait for 100% because "perfect" will never come. Aim for 70%, move, and figure it out the rest of the way.
If you're a startup you could even pare this back to 30-40% by, say, hosting a webinar on a product that isn't even created yet just to test demand, and if people buy into it, then you know you have a product.
Placing a premium on understanding, on listening, and on the patience to understand was what helped us gain that competitive advantage of the moment.
Sometimes, folks, you gotta slow down to speed up.
I'm sure you've all heard the story about the lumberjack or the woodcutter--or whatever rendition of the story exists--but if you haven't, I'll share it with you real quick.
During a tree cutting competition, two teams of lumberjacks faced off against each other. Once the whistle blew, the competition would commence and then each team would have 10min to cut down a tree, with the winner winning, I don't know, whatever it is lumberjacks or woodcutters enjoy (maybe some flannels).
Anyway, the whistle blew and the competition started.
And one team began sawing feverishly, going back and forth as hard and as fast as they could; and they did so for a good 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, the other team sat down, and for 5-6 minutes they did nothing but sharpen their saw.
The other team saw this but kept working frantically, sawing harder and faster BUT, they weren't making much progress--WHY?
Because they were working with a dull blade. The other team stood up, positioned the saw, began cutting and sawed right through like butter and won the competition--which was a lifetime supply of flannels--that's a joke.
The point is, if you don't take the time to focus on what's important; on what's gonna propel you furthest fastest, then,
Well, you should.
You gotta slow down to speed up.
So, what does it mean to slow down? What does "slowing down" look like?
Well after action reviews is one of them. If you're not doing after action reviews in your company then you should. You MUST. This is an imperative. And if you're unfamiliar with AARs then I encourage you to revisit episode 6.
So, an AAR is one way. Another way is to create what I mentioned earlier and that is, a personal leadership philosophy,
But don't confuse the wording of a PERSONAL LP with it's purpose.
Just because the word "personal" is in there doesn't mean it's solely reserved for one individual because,
if you're an entrepreneur, a leader of a team or a company, then a PLP is actually your brand,
It's your brand as a person, as an enterprise,
And that brand is what enlists like-minded people who--ideally--want to buy from you.
I'm going to make available a personal branding worksheet that I'll make available on our website if you go to www.thechaoscast.com/resources and then go to episodes. Go to episode #25 and you can sign up to receive a personal branding worksheet that'll help you set the stage for you brand and what you want people to know you for.
Because after all, people buy from others that they like, know and trust, so if you think your brand is one thing but how it's perceived publicly is something else, then, well, there's a messaging problem there that needs tweaking.
And that's okay because…why? Problems--chaos-- afford the opportunity for clarity.
Anyway, check out the branding worksheet at www.thechaoscast.com/resources episode #25.
Okay, back to the personal leadership philosophy…
The purpose of creating a personal vision of success is so you can reverse engineer how to get there, because if you don't, then, well, you're just throwing spaghetti on the wall.
You need purpose, you need direction and you need a framework to abide by.
What is a framework? Think of a framework as the blueprint, or the scaffolding that supports your infrastructure. Without a framework there's nothing for support and there's nothing to build around.
A framework is a starting point upon which all other layers of business--of behavior for that matter--is built.
Here are a couple examples of frameworks for you:
1) Don't start a business to make money. Start a business to make a difference.
And if what you're doing now, you're doing "so you can start your business" (ie a stepping stone), stop. Just stop right now because it's not gonna last. When you set out to make money you're essentially in the business of serving yourself, and people are gonna see right through that.
When you're in the business of serving others, people see that, too. BUT, don't be weird about. People know when it's authentic and they know when it's bullshit. Don't be bullshit. You know when you're bullshit earlier than anybody else. Don't get to the point where somebody else calls you out on your bullshit because you thought you could bullshit them AND bullshit yourself. Don't start a business to bullshit. Start a business to solve other people's bullshit because THAT makes a difference.
2) Align your business ambition with your lifestyle ambition.
Personally, I am not a suit and tie kind of guy. Yes I wear them for speeches and events and things like that but the thought of wearing a suit and tie everyday actually makes me want to vomit in my mouth just talking about it.
It did when I was 18 years old which was why I joined the SEALs--among other reasons--and it still does to this day.
So, for me, I wanted to align my business ambition with my personal ambition--which was freedom. Freedom to do what I want, when I want and to do business with people that I want.
I like that freedom, so that's what I did, because I knew that working for somebody else wasn't going to offer that.
The point here is to identify what your lifestyle ambition is and align it with your work. Remember, there's no such thing as work/life balance--that's a farce. There's only work/life integration, so, make sure you're integrating apples with apples and not apples with oranges, because if it's the latter, you are going to be miserable and so will everyone around you.
Here's framework #3:
3) Don't "start" you day. Attack it.
Wake up, and attack. What I mean is, don't wake up and reach for your phone to check fFacebook, twitter or any social media sites. Get up and get after it but get after it by taking 3-5 min the night before to PLAN OUT tomorrow. Identify 3-4 TOP PRIORITIES that, when achieved, will propel your business forward the most.
If you have a morning routine then write it down the night prior SO IT'S SCHEDULED. When you schedule something for yourself there's a degree of personal accountability that you have, with yourself, and when you don't fulfill that accountability, well, it doesn't really feel good.
When YOU have a vision of what's right for you; when you have the intention to do something but you don't do it, well, that never feels good.
And this is exactly why scheduling your day or your top priorities for the next day the night before is so helpful,
Because now you have a game plan in your mind which allows you to envision success,
And if you don't pursue or achieve that vision, then you feel like crap--and hopefully, that's motivating enough NOT to repeat it OR to find another solution.
Framework #4 is Exercise.
I'll be honest folks, this is my most fundamental, essential framework upon which ALL of my productivity for the day is based on.
If I don't workout then I don't think straight, I'm antsy, I'm grumpy and I'm not focused ON my work--I'm focused on relieving the tension that only comes when I exercise.
The fact is, your brain needs movement because movement induces blood flow, and this increased blood flow increases the amounts of oxygen and glucose in your brain which,
Allow it to grow.
It's a fact that exercise--regular exercise--can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia by as much as 60%.
Anyway, workout; get smarter--in that order.
Exercise brings mental clarity.
"Not having time" to exercise isn't a reason not to--it's an excuse. If the president of the united states has time to exercise, so do you.
And if you're "too tired" to exercise then try this: do it anyway. I guarantee that when you begin exercising, YOU'LL GAIN energy. I don't know of anybody who walked away from a workout feeling sorry that they did it.
Applying these principles is how you have an impact on the world around you--and that impact is what drives your business. Remember, don't start a business to make money. Start a business to make a difference. That's all I got.
Links Mentioned in Today‘s Episode:
The ChaosCast Episode 8 – http://www.thechaoscast.com/08-chaos-is-freedom-relish-in-it/
Personal Branding Worksheet http://www.thechaoscast.com/resources