Think about it. Have you ever found yourself saying things like:
- “I don’t want to grow too fast because I don’t want to lose control.”
- “I could grow my business faster, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my health or my relationships in order to make it happen.”
- “It’s just the way things work in my industry.”
- “It’s really hard to find good team members – especially those millennials,” or even,
- Well, things were going well, until COVID hit…”
Now, all of these things are beliefs or assumptions, which doesn’t necessarily make them true. But if you believe them, they are true for you, as a belief’s primary job is to gather evidence for its existence. In other words, once you believe something to be true, you develop a cognitive bias where everything you see continues to validate that belief.
As a CEO, you probably don’t suffer from a lack of information. On the contrary, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available to help you make informed decisions in your business. Yet, we always find what we’re looking for. Especially if you’ve built an echo chamber of fellow executives, team members, or friends who already think just like you and share your beliefs about the challenges of growing a business.
In this article, I want to expose a few of the common myths that I hear in the business world that will keep your business from thriving, and invite you to challenge your own thinking if you currently subscribe to any of these beliefs.
MYTH #1: If We Grow Too Fast, We’ll Lose Control
Growth can certainly add complexity and suck cash along the way. If you don’t have the structure in place, it can create a “speed wobble” effect, like riding a skateboard downhill… “This could be fun, or we could kill ourselves – we’ll see which one happens first!”
If you’ve felt this effect, perhaps you (wisely) slowed things down a bit to regain control. There are two conclusions you could draw from this experience. 1) growing quickly is reckless, or 2) we just did it wrong, and there’s a better way.
The key to rapid and sustainable growth is clarity – clarity on where you’re going and why, and what your strategy is to get there. How can you expect your entire team to be on the same page if you don’t have a page for them to get on? Even with the best of intentions, if you have 2 people or 2,000 people who are on the growth journey with you, but they are each one degree off in their priorities, execution, or culture fit, now you have the speed wobble. Fix the structure and consistently over-communicate the purpose and priorities, and now you have scalability.
MYTH #2: Growing a Business Means Sacrificing Work-Life Balance
Sometimes when it rains it pours, because we start to find things that validate the belief that we’re having a bad day, or a bad year. Say, for example, a member of your team drops the ball on something, and then a while later you get an email from a frustrated customer about something else. The next thing you know, you find yourself in this mode of, “well, I just have to fix it myself because I’m the only one that can do anything right around here.”
Then imagine something else happens that, on any other day, might have been a minor annoyance, but today it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. That myth that you have to step in and save the day, to the detriment of your personal relationships or wellbeing, is further solidified in your subconscious.
Truth bomb: you don’t have time for everything, but you always have time for your priorities.
If you choose this belief instead of resigning to the chaos, you’ll be better equipped to solve the root cause of your business challenges, rather than dealing with the symptoms.
Growth is about removing constraints that are keeping you stuck at your current level. Will you be better equipped to solve those problems once and for all if you’re running on physical and emotional fumes, or if you prioritize yourself and start each day with a clear head and plenty of energy?
MYTH #3: It’s Just the Way It Is
There are two reasons this myth is dangerous. Firstly, if you really believe something to be true, there is almost zero chance you will develop the skill of achieving any other result. As Henry Ford (and also my mother) said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
The second reason this is dangerous is called the “17 second rule”. Neuroscience tells us that when you hold a thought in your mind for as little as 17 seconds, it starts to attract other similar thoughts and emotions of the same vibration, and that emotion begins to multiply. In as little as 68 seconds, these thoughts affect the particle energy in your body, and you begin to take that emotion and project it onto everything else. In other words, it clouds your thinking and judgement, as you begin to approach everything through the lens of that experience.
Instead, what if you looked for people or companies that disprove the belief that your current challenges are par for the course, or are impossible to change? Who has defied the status quo? Who has proven this belief wrong? Is there anyone in the history of time that has overcome your challenge or forged a new path entirely?
Actively looking for ways to challenge your current thought process will unlock your creativity and lead you to solutions you otherwise would’ve overlooked.
MYTH #4: Good Employees Are Hard To Find and Keep
Let’s say, for example, you believe that hiring is more or less a gamble because candidates can lie on their resumes or interviews, and you just never know what you’re going to get until they’re actually working in your company. Returning to our previous example, if this is what you believe to be true, you’ll never develop the necessary skills to become excellent at attracting and retaining A-level talent.
This is equal parts a mindset issue and a systems issue, so let’s start at the root. Why would an A-player want to work for your company in the first place? Have you created an environment where the right people can thrive, and find the challenges and growth opportunities they’re after? Are you crystal clear on both the personality and skills necessary to succeed in a particular role, and have an interview process designed to measure candidates against that standard?
Lastly, remember that waiting for the right person is faster than hiring the wrong one, so patience and commitment to building a top-notch team will pay off if you let it.
MYTH #5: We Just Need This to Be Over With So We Can Get Back on Track
Don’t worry, I won’t use that word. You know, the word people used in 2020 when they wanted to sound smart. The one that starts with a “P” and ends in “ivot.”
I won’t insult those trying to stay afloat in an industry that has been decimated by COVID-19 by pretending there was an obvious way out. The myth I want to challenge here is that we just need to wait it out until things go back to normal, and then dust off the same old plans we had before.
Thankfully, most of my clients are in industries that have been able to continue operations, and in some cases, even thrive through all of this. So how this myth shows up for most of those businesses is in continuing to accept work-around solutions instead of adapting to the new environment.
Here are a few questions to help you assess if you’re thinking strategically or relying on band-aid solutions:
- Have you adapted your most important systems yet, or still relying on manual effort or workarounds where your former systems are no longer relevant?
- Are you back in a good communication rhythm with your team? Even if COVID-19 protocols prevent the in-person team building and collaboration you’re accustomed to, have you found a new routine to build internal relationships and keep communication flowing smoothly?
- Are you still feeling unclear in your plan to go forward? Or not taking the time to continually assess, adjust and refine the plan as market conditions change?
As Jim Rohn said, “it is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”
As a leader, you are charged to set the sails. The myths you subscribe to or the healthy beliefs you choose instead will either prevent your business from thriving, or will challenge you to greatness. You get to choose.