If you look close enough you will find a lack of critical optimism at the root of just about every problem you are facing as a business leader. However, despite its importance, critical optimism is incredibly rare. In this article, I’ll show you what it is and how you can embed it in your company culture.
I want to share with you one of the most powerful principles I learned as a leader. Like many truths, there is no black and white, no simple fix, but there are timeless principles that can guide you through the challenges we all face working together with others.
The principle is this: Working together requires humility and honesty.
Passion is the primary source of fuel for founders. It's what gets them through setback after setback in the early days. It keeps their unwarranted optimism afloat long enough for it to become warranted. But what happens when you, as the founder or even the CEO, lose your passion for your business?
As a business consultant and coach, some of the most powerful and transformational moments I've experienced have been the simple act of telling a business leader or executive team something that they already know. Reflecting on this made me ask why we so often know the right thing, but fail to do it.
I wanted to take a moment in this article to talk about a trap that a lot of business owners (and just people in general) fall into all the time. I know about the trap because I spent more than ten years in it. Looking back now, I know it caused me extra stress, gave me less joy, and limited the growth of my business substantially.
Do you make decisions in meetings but fail to follow through? Do you regularly have the meeting after the meeting where real decisions are made? Do you have leaders on the team or departments in the company that can't seem to get in a rhythm, or even worse, just don't like each other? Do you have trouble getting some people to speak up in meetings or difficulty getting others to be quiet? Do team members point fingers and say I told you so when something goes wrong?
I like to ask myself this simple question from time to time, “Who is better than you at something very meaningful to you?” It’s a great question. It highlights selfishness and pride quickly. It also improves my perspective instantly and keeps me from getting too big for my proverbial britches.
He said to me, “I wish I spent more time out of my comfort zone.” He went on to describe how the most uncomfortable times in his life were the ones that not only refined him into the man he is today but also created the vast majority of the success he’s had at work and with his family and friends.
One of the most important transitions that happens within an organization to allow it to scale rapidly is the transition from anecdotal data to analytical data when making decisions. There is a fantastic parallel in how pilots navigate the skies.
We all have to deal with the gap between our expectations and our realities. It doesn't matter what your position, tenure, education, or skillset is. I know I am routinely let down by my own expectations. Maybe you can relate. I believe this gap affects us all.