Your Clawing Entrepreneurship Needs To Be Balanced With Something Else

I've long been fascinated by the idea that some tension is bad (the kind that has you sleeping on the couch) and some is good (the kind that holds up bridges). Healthy tension is the sort that is not only good tension, but is in fact necessary tension. If you want to explore this further, take a listen to an entire episode of 2Bobs on this idea.

But there's one tension in particular that I want to touch on, and especially so at the end of a calendar year. I'm struck by two things that are true of most entrepreneurs—at the same time—and what this means for our strangely addled brains:

  • Entrepreneurs have this constant reaching for more, this unsatisfaction with how much has been accomplished, this dreaming for new goals, this drive that leaves them unsatisfied with the way things are. They are essentially harnessing "rubber bands wound so tight that they'll hurt like hell if they snap" anxiety to keep them driving forward. From the outside it appears as a carefully contained micro nuclear reactor inside a race car (although sometimes it's not all that carefully contained).

That's one side of the equation, and—if unchecked—it's going to kill you and drive your team batshit crazy. If you dive into personality theory, there are essentially four kinds of people in the world:

  • This isn't very good and I can fix it. (That's most of you, right there.)
  • This is a good environment and I'll be able to thrive in it. (That's a few of you.)
  • This is a good environment and I want to fit in. (Nope.)
  • This environment sucks but I'm just going to accept it. (Not even.)

Most of you are the first type, and some of you are the second type.

So how do you balance this out so that there's a healthy tension between your drive and an appropriately strong counterforce to control it?

I think that's gratitude, and we need it in doses. You got where you are from a combination of:

  • (Enough) intelligence.
  • Lots of discipline.
  • (Shit ton of) luck.

If you don't keep reminding yourself of that third part, luck, you'll get arrogant and smug and difficult to live with. I don't want to minimize your accomplishments, but there are millions of people with plenty of intelligence and discipline who didn't thrive because the roll of the dice didn't land their way, and you and I could just as easily be one of them.

We didn't have electricity or running water during parts of my childhood, and I stood in line for government cheese, honey, and powdered milk at the fire station when trying to keep a family fed. Some of you probably did, too. I talked with a very successful principal yesterday who shared that his parents also stood in line.

And all it would take is one or two stupid mistakes to be right back there.

Never forget that, and let's all balance our endless clawing for more with a sense that who we are as humans is a whole lot more important than meeting business goals, even though meeting them is an endlessly fun challenge.

And speaking of gratitude, thank you for reading this weekly missive, for listening to 2Bobs, for attending events, and for hiring us to help you when you need it. I'm writing to myself, here, and not just to you. I'm deeply grateful, and also aware of how fragile all this is.

And speaking of ambition....

Stay Tuned for What's Coming in 2023

  • Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors: Covert Techniques for a Remarkable Practice, RockBench Publishing Corp, 2022, will be released in mid-January. It's a fully illustrated (in color) french-flap paperback that moves beyond The Business of Expertise to help you actually develop your own tradecraft for the advisory work you do for clients. It will be released in all three formats at once: print, Kindle, and Audible. The print book is $32. Short video of the printed sample here.
  • Financial Management of a Marketing Firm, Second Edition, RockBench Publishing Corp, 2022, will be released in late January in both PDF ($250) and looseleaf printed binder ($400) format. It's completely rewritten, 12 years after the first edition, and is now fully illustrated in color. 3D image here.
  • All of our 2023 seminars are on the calendar, and shortly we'll be accepting registrations for all of them, which are all being held in Atlanta at Monday Night Brewing: Benchmarking Your Firm (Jan 30), Account Management and Project Management (March 13-14, w/ Jenny Plant), MYOB Conference (Oct 16-18), and Landing the Plane seminar on valuation and M/A (Dec 4-5).
  • There will also be an entirely new seminar on June 26 on Surfacing and Monetizing Your IP.
  • A new website and company name change. Yep, gonna do it.
  • A greatly enlarged M/A practice. Stay tuned for some exciting options for you.
  • Topical webinars that are more moderated discussions between me or Jonathan and a small group of you folks, trying to learn from each other.
  • A whole slate of new weekly articles , including our first one in 2023 on how to think about growth, by Jonathan. Here's a screen grab that shows the topics that are already researched and illustrated, just waiting for an eager author.

  • Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors

    Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors

    Covert Techniques For A Remarkable Practice

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