The Power of One More Thing…
Frequently in life and in the pursuit of meaning we find ourselves frustrated. Despite the best of intentions and the most carefully laid plans we sometimes find our efforts thwarted.
An annoying situation to be sure, but one which we no doubt all encounter at some point or another. Even, I suspect, the most spectacular achievers. The difference with these high achievers is that they are able to successfully overcome adversity. Or so we are given to believe.
This post is an examination of that space between frustration and successful completion.
Let’s start at the begining.
Be Sensitive to Initial Conditions
As someone who has been involved in many different entrepreneurial ventures this is a question I have often had occasion to consider.
I must admit to you, at the outset, that I have what some might call a superstitious nature. I am not a huge believer in the power of randomness. I tend to interpret what occurs, regardless of what it is, as meaningful.
At the start of any new venture I am very sensitive to the prevailing conditions. Both circumstantial and the behaviour of those I am entering into this venture with. This is something I paid dearly to learn and it is a lesson I value highly.
One of the ways to do this is to be quiet. Try never to talk over others most especially your partners in any enterprise you are undertaking or already involved in. Allow your partners or associates plenty of space to voice their opinions.
By doing this and paying careful attention to what they say you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary suffering down the line.
Not very long ago I was approached by a promoter to facilitate a class on entrepreneur skills for small to medium sized business.
Although the class itself went very well (it was a six month course, one class per week), I cannot say the same for my relationship with the promoter. It was strained from very early on in the venture. Sufficiently so that I concluded to never work again with this particular promoter.
Now very early on in the negotiations to teach the class this individual said something interesting. He said, ‘If we were to part acrimoniously, although you would still be teaching the class, I could rot the group from the outside.’
I’m sure most of you reading that (and knowing how the story unfolded) are thinking you would have run for the hills on hearing that remark. I remind you hindsight is perfect vision .
The point is I didn’t. Like the proverbial monkey trapped because he didn’t want to let go of the nuts, I prevailed when I should have absented myself.
Frequently the noise of our desires, fears, and various other things that go around and around in our heads stops us from hearing or seeing what we should.
Clearly I would have been forewarned had I listened more carefully. And paid attention to what I heard.
Listen, look, feel, think and intuit carefully and consciously prior to rushing in where angels fear to tread. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this for me?
- And where is this going?
When the Energy is Not Flowing
Assuming you have got beyond the initial stage and have embarked on your venture. What do you do when the ‘energy’ is simply not flowing, when despite your most concerted efforts the plan is not coming together?
This is admittedly a very challenging question.
There is I have come to realise to no conclusive or definitive answer.
Our problems start with the phrase ‘your most concerted efforts’. How exactly do you define your most concerted efforts?
How many times, if ever, throughout your life, have you been able to say with absolute conviction: to this endeavour I have applied my most concerted efforts, (or if you are less verbose than me and speak the English plainly ) I have given 100% of myself to this project?
An interesting question isn’t it? I’d wager If you are sincere you couldn’t answer in the affirmative too often, if ever.
Despite the above qualification, there are times when things are simply not going the way you had hoped, or maybe they are not going at all.
The question is at what point do you get out?
When do you realise that your efforts and energy would be more productively expressed somewhere else?
You’ll remember that I mentioned my ‘superstitious’ orientation. So for me there is very clearly a point when I say this is not working or it is not meant to be. And at that point I get out and move on. I don’t believe that going down fighting is the best strategy in every situation. It sure didn’t work for General Custer now did it .
Staying in Play
I happily concede though that knowing when to get out and when to stay in play is an art rather than a formula. And I for one cannot say with any sense of certainty that I have chosen the correct option. At least not until much time has passed after the choice was made.
A contrary position to mine was expressed by a friend of mine who is a very successful and dynamic journalist and now senior executive, Patrick Conroy.
He said that when he encountered difficulties in his chosen career path he was never inclined to change course. He simply worked on correcting his errors and finding more creative solutions to the challenges presented to him.
This mirrors the sentiments expressed by George Soros who attributes his massive success to realising and constantly correcting his mistakes.
The success of both men is fairly good argument for the effectiveness of that stance.
Still I hate to be pedantic but….
One always has to be weary of apocryphal evidence because by its nature it is biased and doesn’t present any conclusive argument.
Also the question of the ‘correction of mistakes’ or ‘creative solutions’ leaves a fairly wide margin for interpretation. We can all agree I think that we need to correct our mistake and find creative solutions.
The question is what do those corrections look like?
Well naturally they are as varied as the problems and solutions themselves. And I think the question of when to stay in play or when it’s time to get out remains.
A Story of How Doing One More Thing Changed my Life
With the preceding concession to the complexity of these questions, I want to share a personal story with you.
A story of how doing just one more thing changed my life. A thing which at the time that I did it seemed almost insignificant, hardly worth doing.
About eight years ago, 2002, I was working as Strength and Fitness Coach. Whilst I enjoyed what I was doing, I longed for something more challenging and with a greater business orientation.
An opportunity presented itself. I was approached by a friend to enter into a joint business venture in the then emerging mobile VAS (value added services) industry. Basically selling billable value added services to customers of the cell phone networks.
An industry that, today, does a multibillion dollar turnover globally.
We had an idea for a product that we believed was saleable and approached what is referred to as a WASP (wireless application service provider) with the idea.
The company liked the idea and we agreed to enter into a joint venture with them.
After many months of planning and product preparation we launched. This was a time of great excitement and keen anticipation. It was just before Christmas and shortly after the launch I was away on holiday with my family.
When we received the initial results of our launch they were dismal to put it mildly. Suffice to say it ruined my holiday .
Amongst the disappointments was that our partners in the JV had failed to implement what they had undertaken to do in terms of marketing.
By the time I got back home in January both my partner and I had all but given up on the idea. As far we were concerned it was an idea which whilst it had seemed initially promising had failed to produce the results we had hoped for.
I went back to the training facility at which I was based and life carried on as normal. Until…
Shortly after my return I received a phone call from our JV partners requesting a follow up meeting.
Now at the time I honestly believed that this idea was dead in the water, a non starter. So it was challenging to respond affirmatively, that I would attend the meeting. It seemed to me the meeting was really just a post mortem and nothing more.
I was mentally and emotionally drained after the rollercoaster ride we had been on with such keen expectations and such very disappointing results after considerable planning and effort.
Even on the day of the meeting I wondered if it wasn’t too late to cancel the meeting and spend the time on other more promising opportunities.
Despite all of this I attended the meeting.
At that meeting our JV partners made an alternative proposal about a way to promote the product.
We followed the proposal and it worked.
In fact it worked so spectacularly that it changed my life!
I stopped working as a trainer and went full time into my new business. I recovered from some major financial setbacks that had befallen me in the years leading up to this breakthrough.
I made sufficient money to travel extensively, buy my first home and then a second, make investments, send my wife, her parents and my daughter to Holland (where my wife’s family come from) on holiday, send me children to the school of our choice, and generally learn what it was to experience real meaningful financial freedom.
That business is still going to this day and continues to facilitate my life, at least financially.
If I hadn’t gone to that meeting my whole life would have been different. I can’t say of course whether it would have been better or worse, but certainly that that business, which impacted on my life very positively, would never have happened.
Doing just that one more thing changed everything.
Rise to the Occasion my Friend and do just One More Thing.
As the great western alchemists knew, the last 10% of the journey requires 90% of the effort.
I don’t know when enough is enough. I don’t have the formula on that one. But if it is in your power to take one more step towards success then I urge you to take that step.
Don’t let your dreams fail because you failed to do everything that could be done. And sometimes that last little thing, a thing which is deceptively simple, can make all the difference.
Until next time,
Go in peace,