This post explains why hard work leads to success for violinists but not necessarily for entrepreneurs.
For years I found people who looked like they had a business and lifestyle that I wanted and I would invest with them at the highest level to learn the strategies and mindset they had so that I could model them and experience the same results in my life.
And when my own business became successful, I a) attributed it to the right strategies and lots of damned hard work and b) tried to teach others how to model what I had done.
But somehow back then many of my clients just weren’t experiencing the success they wanted.
And I couldn’t work out why.
I was telling them the steps I took, I was holding nothing back, but still, even when they did exactly what I told them, often nothing happened, or they got mediocre results.
I’ve written before about my insights about what I’ve seen that really caused my business success, but despite seeing how little I really had to do with how well things turned out, I continued to create visions in my head of how my current business would grow to the next level or I could make my next business grow as quickly as this one.
And then still work out plans for how to get from here to there and start to follow them.
And then a kind friend recommended this book: Click Moments: Seizing Opportunity In An Unpredictable World by Franz Johannson.
Johannson points to how our culture and society has embraced the idea, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell of ‘practice for 10,000 hours and you’ll be successful’.
We love hard work, us entrepreneurs (though we’ll always pretend we don’t!).
This 10,000 hours idea totally justifies it.
If I want to get good at marketing my services, I need to get 10,000 of practice and study of marketing techniques under my belt – that’s all I need to do.
If I just read enough, study enough, think hard enough, work hard enough, then success it bound to come my way. If I just keep at it long enough, I’ll clock up the hours….
However many entrepreneurs will agree that they can read, study, think and work all they like, but somehow success eludes them.
And then you see people like Richard Branson with no understanding of the airline industry successfully launch an airline.
You see people like Howard Schwarz with no experience of the retail industry launch Starbucks.
You see Stephanie Meyer who never published a book before and had no idea about how vampires were ‘supposed’ to act create a trilogy that went on to earn millions.
You see someone with no idea whatsoever about software (!) launch JigsawBox and it take off.
Johannson explains that although 10,000 hours of practice on the violin or tennis courts will certainly give you a level of mastery in your field; the same rules just don’t apply in the world of business, simply because there ARE no rules in business, unlike the rigid structures involved in playing tennis, chess or the violin.
Despite our desire for the world to be predictable, so that we can work out our strategies then work our plans, it simply isn’t, so you can’t.
But we refuse to believe that despite strong evidence to the contrary.
It’s too scary so we continue creating and working the plans as it’s the only thing we feel safe trying to do – after all what’s the alternative?
In fact Johannson says
an overreliance on logic might kill any chance we have for success
following a formula for success can by hugely counterproductive
Wait a minute – that’s not what most leaders in my field of coaching are teaching….!
Johannson points to ‘click moments’ instead as being responsible for business success.
For me, it was the seemingly random invitation of a friend round for lunch (who has never come before or since) who happened to mention that his brother worked for a software company.
Back then I had grown JigsawBox as far as I could with a tiny amount of money – we had around fifty coaches and to take it to the next level I needed tens of thousands of pounds to develop the platform.
Which I simply didn’t have.
But it just so happened the directors of that software company had reached a stage in their business growth when they were looking for other businesses to invest their development in, in return for equity in the business.
Three years later JigsawBox had over 1000 coaches and hit a million dollars in revenue.
Well if it’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time, or as Johannson puts it, getting lucky, how can others learn from that?
Johannson talks about actively inviting randomness into our approach to business.
Innovative ideas arise when we take advantage of the unknown, of the seemingly random nature of life, instead of trying to emulate what others in your field are doing.
Johannson suggests how to actively increase randomness into our experience of business with the following ideas:
- Taking your eyes OFF the ball. Spend time outside your field of expertise. As someone who is continually being told to focus, permission to do this is incredibly liberating. Cupcakes, yoga, photography and dog training – these things are NOT a distraction, they are going to serve me well in my business 🙂
- Use intersectional thinking – the innovative ideas happen at the intersections between two or more fields. Airlines meet phenomenal customer service = Virgin. Coaching meets the internet = JigsawBox. Fitness training plus coaching = Virtual Bootcamp. Aerobics meets salsa = Zumba. Here are some cool things some of my recent clients have come up with: Gravy plus teapot = The GPot (currently in discussions with John Lewis). Yoga meets plus size women = Curvesome Yoga. Airbnb meets office space = this one’s happening in Germany so I don’t know the name of it! All of them intersectional thinking. Not trying to be better at internet marketing, aerobics or yoga. Creating a market all of their own. Johannson gives a whole heap of ideas how to practically make these ideas more likely.
- Follow your curiosity. When we’re head down working our plan, there’s no time to follow curiosity. There’s no time to even notice it. And if we can’t see the money-making potential immediately we often dismiss it. In fact for me, to be frank with you, that’s often what kills me taking action in the direction of my curiosity. But curiosity is stepping into the unknown instead of staying with what we already know – the same tired strategies and thinking. Those
willmight get you incremental bit-by-bit improvement in your progress, but it’s the unknown that contains the exciting possibilities – but you’ll never find them unless you look there.
- Reject the predictable path. Work out the obvious, logical, strategic approach then actually reject it. Then you have nowhere to go but into the unknown. I’m playing with this at the moment.
Throughout the book Johannson talks about the random nature of life: in my thinking there IS a greater intelligence behind the system at work that he doesn’t refer to – sometimes I see the evidence of that, but I also accept that most of the time I have no idea what the grand plan is and my best attempts to second guess it are what gets me into the kind of trouble Johannson talks about.
That’s when I fall back on other people’s strategies and striving to work my plan – with the resulting lack of progress that usually occurs.
When we try to use logic to ‘work out the plan’ – or pay someone else who we think has worked out the plan better than we can – we’re actually getting in the way of possible click moments instead of embracing the unknown as a way of being open to having more of them.
A definite must-read for anyone running a business today.