Sometimes unpacking your own thinking shows very clearly where you know you should be playing, and where you are really playing; and whilst we can all rest on the laurels of covid and global pandemic and unprecedented disruption, the truth is how we are showing up in our business – particularly as founding owners – is something we need to be mindful of, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
What is really interesting is that for more than 20 years now (yikes!) I have worked in the consulting, professional services, and knowledge based space and have noticed that when it comes to high performance businesses, founding owners - including me - generally show up in four key ways.
The one thing we all have in common is we are entrepreneurial in nature – that is we possess or know we need to continuously improve our mental strength (resilience) and problem solving ability. We all understand we have to have healthy doses of both if we are to ever create a business that delivers in accordance with our aspirations.
But it is the degree of which we have built both that will shape just how our success shows up – or doesn’t – in our entrepreneurial pursuits and business endeavours. And having worked with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs across Australia and the USA in the last few years after a career working with thousands more, I have found there are four distinct ways in which founding owners show up – as The Dreamer, The Roller-Coaster, The Martyr, or The Pacesetter
The Dreamer. The dreamer can very clearly see the problems and the challenges and have lots of ideas about just how different life, work or community could be when the challenge or the problem has been solved. They can envision a future state but not quite layout how to get there. They have lots of ideas and can be a vibrant and engaging part of any discussion even though they may have little to no ability to actually do anything with their ideas. And without much experience actually in the arena solving problems they don’t have a lot of opportunity to actually build the mental strength to create a well performing business – preferring instead to settle into the comfort of a hobby business which allows them ample time to dream and philosophise.
The Roller-Coaster. We both love and are endlessly frustrated by the Roller-Coaster; they have flashes of game changing brilliance and are supercharged when solving wicked problem or working to inhuman deadlines to find solutions or deliver a project. They excel at problem solving – particularly new and wicked problems but their ability to smash it out of the park is tempered by adrenaline crashes and low activity - and often instead of building their foundational (mental) strength ‘accept’ that is part of their high performance nature and use their moments of brilliance to pull them through to the next great opportunity. The Roller-Coaster build an eclectic client base that reflects where they are on the rollercoaster – from the less than ideal to the Rockstar – and their revenue fluctuates wildly.
The Martyr. I have a secret confession; I love the Martyr. These people are whip smart with the mental fortitude that often has all of us stepping back to appreciate just how damn tough these people are. The Martyr is exceptionally good at what they do, they have deep experience and extraordinary expertise with the ability to turn their hand to anything; they are the ultimate generalist with tenacity and dogged determination. Invaluable to a less sophisticated client base, they solve important but not wicked and new problems and have an intensely loyal following. They will often have a ceiling on what they can generate and can get caught in a time for money exchange. And whilst they dream of ‘taking it easy’ the truth is the love their work, their identity is tied closely to it, and they can’t quite tear themselves away from the detail. And this is why we love them.
The Pacesetter. In long distance running – especially for charity – the pacesetter is the person, or group of people, who step in beside the runners to help them set the pace at critical points to make sure they achieve their goal in the required timeframe. It is also the concept of the pace car in motor racing – when it comes to the front to slow the pace when an incident needs to be dealt with. The Pacesetter knows how to set the rhythm for themselves and others – in fact they are capable of setting the right rhythm and cadence at any point in time, knowing when to step in beside their team, behind them and when they must race to the front to lead the way. They have exceptional problem solving skills – and they know that not every problem is theirs to solve. Their mental strength is formidable and they understand that resilience is a practice which has to support and underpin their ability to stay relevant. Their revenue model is strong and predictable, allowing them to solve the problems that get their attention, doing great work with clients they love and respect.
Whichever one resonates, what is so powerful about how you show up is this. Wherever you currently sit you can create a sustainable, high-performance, high impact business - and we will explore the two key elements to doing this next : )