Like most entrepreneurs who are trying to achieve big things, I pay attention to what’s working and what’s not.
Some things are working pretty well for me, so I keep doing them.
Other things are not working so well. I’m struggling or stuck. What used to work no longer works, for some reason.
My “not working” list always gets the most attention.
The fun thing about growing a business (and growing yourself) is that you can look at the list of things you do well now and see that some of these were once hard challenges on your “not working” list.
You just did the work to figure them out. And you didn’t stop when it got really hard.
Achieving big things is about getting to the “next level” in your journey. Each level demands figuring out new things, learning new skills, changing perspectives, and overcoming external roadblocks.
Incremental improvements and quick fixes can address little stuff, but they almost never help you get to the next level. If you are trying to do big new things like seriously scale a business, you’re going to continually face hairy challenges and scary transitions.
Serious growth over a long period is not like a straight line that steadily goes up and to the right. It is more like a stairway, where each step seems like a huge wall when you are facing it.
When things are working, you can just do more of it to grow. Until it doesn’t. You’ll hit steps that don’t respond to old approaches.
Each big step requires new thinking, new approaches and new knowledge. It’s hard. It’s why it feels like you’ve hit a wall when you first encounter it.
Public speaking was one of those for me. I definitely wasn’t a natural when I started, but now I’m pretty good. And there are more major steps before I become very good or great. Same goes for my writing, growing my online business, skiing moguls and a few other big things I’m working on.
When I really think about it, I wasn’t a natural at much when I started. I just found a way to get intensely interested, kept trying and got over a few of the steps that stop most people.
Roadblocks are not permanent. Neither are our own thoughts and habits.
Most small businesses don’t grow up to be big businesses. Most front-line employees never grow “up the ladder” to become a VP or CEO. Most VC-funded companies don’t grow big and pay back their investors. Most casual joggers don’t become marathon runners. Most people with bank accounts don’t achieve their financial goals.
Most don’t. But some do. The successful ones persisted to achieve all the steps that stopped everyone else. As the saying goes, successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t.
When successful companies and people share their stories, it often sounds like their experience was like an ascending straight line, but it never was. It was steps. Big step after big step. One at a time.
Don’t let transition points appear as walls and stop you from making progress. They’re merely steps to overcome.
Big growth is hard, but it’s not impossible.