In May 2016, my world turned upside down. The business I worked for collapsed financially leaving 19 people and me out of work.
Left with little option and no job to go to, three of my colleagues and I set up Thinking Focus. Now, eighteen months on, I can’t tell you what a blast we are having.
We work all over the globe with our clients to change their world for the better; we turn light bulbs on, we get such satisfaction knowing that we play a small part in their success.
The thing is though, what was it that stopped me from doing it sooner? I can come up with a whole host of reasons or excuses, some circumstantial, such as a young family, maybe a lack of confidence, comfortable in the corporate world, a need for security but in short, I didn’t have the kahunas!
I recently listened to a podcast; it’s by NPR and a series called How I Built This. A series of inspiring stories from entrepreneurs and how they turned their business idea into hugely successful businesses. One episode, in particular, really resonated with us. Jim Koch, co-founder and Chairman of the Boston Beer Company, explains how he left his uninspiring cushy corporate job and went on to help kickstart the craft beer movement in America. Jim shares his mindset behind a pivotal decision which most people saw as a high-risk decision.
Jim uses a lens of scary versus dangerous; he uses a climbing analogy to explain as he contrasts them; scary is when you repel from a cliff, but the fact you are secured with a belay rope which can hold a car doesn’t make it dangerous. He then compares that to walking over a 35° snowfield in late May where the melting snow could easily cause an avalanche – not scary but highly dangerous. He sums up by saying that not leaving his corporate job was dangerous, the risk of looking back at retirement, having spent that time doing something that made him unhappy, that sense of OMG, I have wasted my life was to Jim, the most dangerous of all. I wish I’d spoken to Jim earlier in my career, but hey, I am now doing what I love!
Jim’s story inspired us to develop our Scary or Dangerous model. Our clients find it useful when making decisions, they can qualify their understanding behind their hesitation.
We use it too. We ask ourselves the same questions when we are hesitant about a key decision.
- Does this feel scary or dangerous, if neither, we are likely to be in our comfort zone, where’s the fun and opportunity in that?
- What is the level of risk, really? This is a test of delusion, we will know in our heart of hearts the level of risk, are we equipped to do this; do we have (or can we get) the funds, the knowledge and/or skills? If in doubt get a second or third opinion. Are we in the reckless zone?
- What level of discomfort are we feeling about this, is this both scary and dangerous? If so, we need to calibrate this in some way to reduce the discomfort. You are officially crazy!
- Does this offer opportunity to develop and move forward, it may feel scary but is it dangerous, a little scary is good, it means we try and test to understand our limits to build confidence and accelerate.
Another year is almost complete and if you, like me, use this time of year to reflect on your year and think about where you’re headed, do you feel a sense of clarity, fulfilment and excitement or are you caught in that scary versus dangerous dilemma holding you back from what you really, really want to be doing?
Now imagine you are about to retire, go ahead, ask yourself the killer question; did I do what really makes me happy? If not, you get a do-over to make the change but do it, you won’t regret it!