Saturday, November 29, 2014



Why entrepreneurs have to make time to think about who they really want to be
by Howard Tullman
From Inc. – (1,000 Words)

Very few things in our lives are absolute. Everything is measured by degree, from our attention
to our patience to the range and intensity of our emotions.

At the same time, some things are absolute: You can't be all things to all people; you can't dance
every dance; and, throughout your life, you've got to make hard choices, sacrifices, and
compromises, and then you've got to live with them through thick and thin for a very long time.
We become the sum of the choices we make over time; those choices determine the kind of
person we end up being--and how the world sees and values us.

What we become isn't a necessary result of fate or destiny. It's certainly not foretold or preordained.
Throughout our lives we remain a work in progress. Iteration isn't just a business
process; it's also a strategy for a life well-lived. We can bend and shape outcomes to match our
desires if we consciously, actively, and continually apply ourselves. But the good things we all
hope for don't happen by themselves; you've got to pay attention and make them happen.

Purpose, Perspective, Proportion

One of the most critical choices you'll need to make when you start out in your career is exactly
what kind of person you want to be. I think it's somewhat back in fashion these days to be a
workaholic. For some of us it never went out of style. Almost everyone today wants to be an
entrepreneur, build a business, and be a big honking overnight success. But that's only part of the
story. Ultimately it's not about making money, it's about making a difference. It's also about
more than making a living: It's about making a life. And the "you" that you become is a big part
of the life you build outside the office, as well as within your business.

In the frenzy of the work and the world it's really important that you don’t lose your sense of
purpose, perspective, and proportion--and risk losing yourself in the process. Your business and
your work will always be what you do. These things are not who you are. And it's critical right
from the start that you not confuse or conflate the two.

This isn't as easy to manage as you may think. Today too many of us worship our work, work at
our play (fitness uber alles), and play at what little worship we make a part of our lives. Where
are the soul and the value in that? And (assuming that we want to) how exactly do we get
ourselves back on top of things before they veer entirely out of control?

To handle the constant barrage of useful information, occasional insights, and useless chatter that
increasingly assaults our senses and impedes our ability to get successfully through the day we
need a new plan. You can drown in many ways today - in data, in documents, in deliberations,
and in endless discussions. We all need to develop new skills for managing both the data and the
people in our lives. It's similar to the radical and rapid choices that drive the triage process in an
emergency room. But there are many different kinds of choices in the mix.


Howard Tullman

At work, we tend automatically to focus on the fiercest fires and the highest flames. We let our
attention be directed toward the newest crisis rather than remaining in some kind of control and
attending to the critical things that really matter. Attention is as slippery as mercury, and as
easily redirected. If no one is paying attention to the things that count, people just stop caring.
Once you stop paying attention to the people in your business who are important, and they stop
caring about you and your business, they'll go someplace else, to someone who does pay
attention and who does care. It's just a matter of time.

But that's on the business side of the equation. As the number of physical, mental, and emotional
inputs we absorb each day continues to increase it becomes all too easy to apply the same
systems, formulae, and checklists we use at work to our friends and families. This is where
things can go very wrong very quickly.

That's because some of the people decisions we confront every day aren't mathematical or
subject to standard rules and procedures--they're choices about other people, about feelings, and
about our relationships. These concerns are fundamentally different, non-mechanical, and far
more complex. People aren't products, positions, or policies--they're our co-workers, friends, and
family. There's no fixed formula for getting these things right.

So it's equally incumbent upon us to decide what's truly important in these interpersonal
situations, both in the moment and in the long run, and to devote to them the same passion and
energy we apply to our business problems and concerns. It's a given that there's never enough
time in the day (and that's never going to change); there's never enough of any one of us to go
around (cloning may help, someday); and it's way too easy to find an excuse rather than finding
the time to deal with these issues.

But here's the bottom line: Your family (when you have one) will be a much more important
extension of yourself than any work you do. There's always more work, but you only have one
family. And, believe me, good friends are also few and far between. Friends are the family that
you get to choose--they're hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget. So, as you
make 'em, make a plan to hang on to them. They're as important an investment over time as
anything else.

Take a little time now to decide how you'd like things to turn out when you look back in 50 years
at your accomplishments, your family, and what you've built. It's all right there before you.
Everything is possible; ultimately, it's all about what you make of it.

Photo Credits Howard Tullman.

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