I'm so excited to see nearly 200 of you in Atlanta in a week for the reprise of our Mind Your Own Business Conference. It's been sold out for weeks, so this isn't a plea for you to buy a ticket (we'll hold this every year, so never fear if you'd like to come in the future). The speakers are remarkable, I think, but mainly I suspect principals just want to get together in person again, and here's what I've been asking myself: what will those private conversations be like? Not just what folks will chat about, but what will the vibe be like? The answer to that is bigger than the conference, and that's what I want to write briefly about this week.
The Enemy is WithinExternal circumstances can punch you in the gut , but too much focus on those challenges is a misplacement of your energy. It's really striking to hear a leader who is consumed by "the things that happen to them". They see those events or trends as roadblocks to success. "I can't find good people." "Today's work ethic isn't what it used to be." "Clients don't seem to appreciate our work like they used to." It's exhausting listening to these people, even though they usually have a point. What they miss, though, is that the enemy that'll plunge a knife in your heart is usually yourself: lack of clarity, discipline, self-awareness, planning, nimbleness, etc. Yes, some of you are going to get your asses kicked by external enemies, but you need to ask those patrolling sentries to turn around and look down on everyone in the castle and quit being paralyzed by external enemies, who will grow in your mind to the point where they aren't even recognizable. “The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend.” ―Marcus Tullius Cicero
Disappointment is the Foundation for HopeBeing hopeful doesn't mean that you paper over your disappointment. I'm not even sure you can be hopeful unless it's against a backdrop of real, experienced disappointment, in others and yourself. Disappointment and hope are permanent tensions that should not be resolved. They should co-exist and play off each other. Some of the most hopeful leaders are also the ones who have had a:
- Client pull their account without a fair hearing.
- Team member talk shit behind their back or steal a client.
- Freshly launched service offering that nobody is interested in, as it turns out.
- Big ol' proposal go dark after 73 hours of prep, knowing for sure that you were going to nail it for a client.