Chapter 6: Practice Detachment…The Bike
It has been almost a year since I first decided to write this book, it is hard for me to believe that the draft is finally almost done. I just want to take a moment to thank you readers and then we will get back to the regularly scheduled programming. You may not realize it, but you have been a great accountability partner for me. I have been easily waylaid on this journey a number of times. But knowing you are expecting to hear from me has helped me persevere when I otherwise could have easily given up. So, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You!
Now, what does it mean to practice detachment more in your business? When I think about practicing detachment in my business, I immediately go to knowing what your business is all about and staying focussed on the core of what you do. But then I heard some insightful feedback from book co-creator Scott Moskowitz, “when I think of letting go for an entrepreneur, I think of letting go of the business functions that you needed to do yourself, but now have to be delegated to others or outsourced so you can concentrate on the core business.”
I read Scott’s comment, slapped my hand to my forehand and uttered, “DUH” it seems so obvious in retrospect. This is another reason I appreciate engaging people in my creative process, your feedback and reactions are so helpful. Things that might seem obvious to you may not have even crossed my mind. But they are relevant and they have a place in A Misfit Entrepreneur’s Guide. Of course when delegating business functions it helps to be able to articulate what your business is all about.
What values guide you when making difficult decisions in your business?
What tasks/responsibilities can you delegate so that you may focus on your core business activities?
In what ways have you drawn consistent boundaries with your team?
Your Guiding Principles
Guiding Principles are traditionally known as mission, vision, and values. While I agree that it is important to articulate your Guiding Principles, the Misfit Entrepreneur may find the traditional approach a little too constraining. As a consultant, I have seen teams get more caught up in what the difference between a mission and vision statement is than in actually defining something inspiring and insightful.
Knowing and being able to articulate what guides your business activities helps you and your team stay focussed and make mission critical decisions that align with your intentions. In Joe Calloway’s book, Be the Best at What Matters Most he demonstrates how the most successful businesses have articulated one to three simple yet powerful areas of focus for continuous improvement.
I drafted the traditional mission, vision and values statements for Rosabella Consulting a few times. I would typically forget what I wrote in short order, which did me little good. After I read Calloway’s book I was prompted to reflect on what matters most for Rosabella Consulting, at which time I identified these three things:
1) Does it create a culture of learning?
As an anthropologist, culture is really important to me. Unfortunately most organizations do not have a culture of learning. When I first realized this problem I decided it was an area I wanted to specialize in. I thought I would connect with clients around this cultural focus. Through customer discovery I learned that creating a culture of learning was not something that leaders aspired to (it is not as catchy as say a culture of performance). While the term, Culture of Learning, may not resonate with clients, it remains a guiding principle for our business activities. Most of us Misfit Entrepreneur’s have that thing clients want, i.e. a more innovative and collaborative workforce, and that thing we secretly do, i.e. creating cultures of learning.
2) Is it simple yet powerful?
I love to simplify the complicated. And I have found that my simplistic approach is more likely to result in positive changes than the overly complicated systems consultants traditionally apply. Einstein is attributed with saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That is a big part of what we do at Rosabella Consulting, grappling with complexity so we can simplify it for our clients. But simplicity in and of itself is not enough. It has to make an impact, that way people buy-in to changing. From there we will dig into the complexities. But I do not want to confuse people with complex tools as a strategy for building my consulting business.
3) Are we modeling the way?
Originally I had written this as walking the talk, but I often find myself referencing Kouzes and Posner’s leadership practice, “Modeling the Way” in coaching sessions. For example, anytime a client vents about their staff’s behavior I will ask, “In what ways are you modeling what you expect from your employees?” As a consultant it is easy to get so wrapped up in helping other’s you forgo helping yourself. I abhor the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” For example, if I am going to teach Lean Startup, I have to apply it to my own business. Not only is there integrity (one of the values listed in earlier drafts of guiding principles) in striving to walk my talk, but I also sincerely and more deeply understand the challenges my clients face in creating the positive change they seek. I know firsthand how hard it is to be a Lean Startup!
Now, anytime I am making a decision in my business I consider the above three questions. I also have shared these three questions with people I have brought onto my team to help with marketing and administrative support.
It is a big deal for many Misfit Entrepreneurs; hiring help! No matter how much you might talk about wanting people to help with your business, it is difficult to let go so that other’s can effectively give their support. How do you entrust someone to represent your business interests?
Anyone you hire is a representative of your business. Wether they perform some outward facing role or not, they are influencing your business. Either their behavior and style either enhances what you’re all about or detracts from it.
Letting go of things like marketing, bookkeeping, or scheduling, is scary. Ensuring for a smooth transition when hiring for a new position is not easy either. In some instances you have to transfer knowledge that only exists in your head; processes and steps need to be documented making it a significant investment. But it can be a worthwhile use your time, money and effort.
Delegating repeatable tasks is one thing, what about when you’re delegate big responsibilities that could have a ripple effect?
Graphic Recording compliments of ConverSketch
Learning how to draw boundaries can be hard for some Misfit Entrepreneurs. I for one can be too agreeable at times, and have failed to articulate my expectations as a result. But boundaries help everyone out. They give you peace of mind while helping to contain and focus the efforts of others.
In 2015, after listening to feedback from EntrepreNerds, I decided to completely revamp the E+ Awards program. I worked with the E+ Leadership Team to determine how to make the program more engaging and representative of what us EntrepreNerds are all about. The revamped awards program recognized 3 people for taking a risk, challenging the status quo and having the courage to be authentic.
The thing that made me the most excited about the revamp was delegating the decision making to a group of high school students. We partnered with the Advanced Marketing class at Fort Collins High School. These eager students were given complete autonomy to choose the 2015 E+ awards recipients.
We did a decision making training where we tasked them with first choosing how they were going to make the decision. Then they followed the process to select the award recipients. We gave them only one rule to follow, their decision had to maintain the integrity of the award. It was so refreshing to not have the responsibility of choosing among the deserving nominees for the 2015 awards recipients.
I was able to let go because I believed the students to make the best decision given the boundaries we set. They did not disappoint. In addition to the criteria we set forth, the students also placed a high value on unsung heroes; they wanted to recognize people who normally fly under the radar. I thought that was pretty cool myself, and it totally aligns with what the E+ stands for!
In this dynamically written book, Calloway argues that the secret to business success is consistency and quality. Curious where to start? Calloway suggests picking one to three areas of focus to continually strive for excellence. He concludes each chapter with insightful questions intended to guide you in defining what is most important to your business success.
The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
In their seminal book, Kouzes and Posner artfully present the 5 practices transformational leaders follow to mobilize others into action. The five practices were developed based on extensive research. They are: 1) Model the Way, 2) Inspire a Shared Vision, 3) Challenge the Process, 4) Enable Others to Act and 5) Encourage the Heart.