What’s critical now for many people is to follow through on their intentions. And being a new year! Let work a bit with following through.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this morning as I was thinking and what came to me is that we’ve all heard ‘The Secret’ and holding your intention. If you’re in California that’s the hot bed of that where we’re talking about how your thoughts actually really form things in the world, and as inventors and creatives I’m sure you’ve had that experience or that is the experience you’re looking to have.
When you think about it, the extraordinary ability to create anything really starts with your thinking. What’s come to me is this idea that in the thought is actually the seed of the fulfillment of whatever it is we’re looking for or wanting to have more of or whatever desire we have is already in process as soon as we think the thought. What has typically been missing for me in the past was consistent follow through or consistent thinking about it.
I’m pretty goal oriented and if you’re on these calls you’re an action taker so you’re pretty goal oriented as well. The distinction I really want to bring up is this. We can take on so many projects inside a business, especially when it’s growing. Right now we’re taking on so many different things inside my business operationally and it can feel like you’re getting a lot done or a little bit done on a lot of things and that’s not necessarily the most efficient use of time, your energy or your spirit for the results you want.
The image that came to me when I was reflecting this morning was the Chinese plate spinning people. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, but if you’ve ever been to a county fair with Chinese acrobats you might have seen it. What they do is there’s this long stick that’s straight up in the air, usually 2 ft. tall or taller and at the top of it is a place. They have this line of these sticks up to 10 or more.
The plate spinners job is to go down the row of these sticks at the beginning and set a lot of things into motion. They put the plate up there and spin it with the rim and then the stick wobbles and creates this momentum that keeps the stick moving and keeps the plate spinning on top of it. So they get one going spinning and making sure it has momentum and it’s spinning smooth.
They go to the next plate and spin that plate to make sure it’s going well. They glance back at the first one to check and then they go on down the row putting plates spinning on top of each stick, always looking back to the previous sticks to make sure the plates are spinning what’s in momentum, but their focus is on the plate they’re bringing in now.
During the process of putting a plate spinning on each stick, in momentum and on course, they’re continuously looking down the line to what they’ve already created. So as they move they’re looking to see if everything is still spinning, and as necessary they’ll go back to tweak and get a plate spinning to keep them going.
I was thinking about our business and projects in general, and the process of bringing a product to market. It’s like those Chinese plate spinners. With each stick being an area of your business or a part of the development process. They get into trouble when they get too many plates spinning for where they’re really amazingly proficient, but the process is that they have to continue adding things and tweaking it as they go. Their ability to hold that entire line into vision in its turn that’s actually the process of running a business.
It occurred to me this morning that being a great CEO is like being the Chinese plate spinner. You get each piece of the business up and operational and moving in its time, but you can’t walk away because the plates lose momentum and fall, and it’s the same thing with your business or product.
If you are all about developing your product and that’s all you’re doing, when it should have been about raising capital as well, then you’ll have a problem because you didn’t get that into momentum early enough in the game so you can run out of cash. If you’re already up, you have your product and it’s already packaged and now you’re at a trade show but you don’t have any follow-up systems or thought through what happens after the show, again you won’t make the sales and you’ll have a problem.
So if you think of this analogy of the Chinese plate spinners and identify which stick is what part of your business and what the next plate you need is, the next thing to create momentum while finishing and keeping the other things going. I think it’s a really great analogy and I’ve never thought of it before.
It has come to me with all the different priorities that can happen. For Instance, we finished our website, for anybody who’s interested it’s up and that plate took a lot for me to get into momentum. It was a lot of work and focused attention. You have to keep sales going while that’s happening and if you’ve been watching our emails at all you’ll know I was at the National Hardware Show (during that time) and that’s another plate for me to keep in momentum of what I’m speaking on at the event.
Then while I was there I was invited to judge the invention area, which is a huge ballroom with 50 exhibitors in it. There’s another three-hour chunk of time that goes to something else, while we were there about sales and marketing.
So, when you have all these different priorities it’s important to have enough vision and perspective to be able to step back a little in order to see each area you have in momentum so you can keep it on track.
When you’re in momentum on things, it’s important to keep enough vision for what’s the next part, what needs to happen two or three weeks later, where do you want to be and hold multiple timelines. It’s a skill and I will tell you that I haven’t always been best at this. It’s a muscle I’m still developing, but I wanted to bring this vision to you because I think it’s important for your development as a business owner to really consciously choose how many plates you’ll get spinning at one time.
Meaning, how many areas of your business can you focus on effectively? What comes to me is that even in an organizational chart… say you were to go to the point where you have a VP of sales, a VP of marketing, a customer service manager and a CFO, you still need to keep enough momentum and contact with each person to keep their areas of the business in momentum.
It’s a really big thought to do it. It’s something you’ll all grow into if you aren’t there already. So I wanted to give you the glimpse down the road, because it’s a really important one. Nobody had ever given me a clear picture of what this was and when I thought of these Chinese plate spinners this morning.
That’s what it is; how do you keep the plates spinning, and how do you recover when one drops? Inevitably in one of these Chinese acrobat shows, one of the plates loses momentum, the person can’t get back fast enough, the plate drops and they pick up another one put it back on the stick and get it back in momentum. They don’t go crying in the corner. They don’t go poor me I’m so bad. They get another plate, put it on a stick and get it into momentum. It’s a process. It doesn’t mean anything about them or anything about you if it happens to you.
So, if you run into a spot where there as a plate that needed adjusting and you didn’t get to it fast enough, pick up the pieces, put another plate on there and get back in momentum so you can keep going.
The reason I bring this up is, for me to be at the National Hardware Show and to judge the invention area, speak and support five clients at the show and walking the show looking at new projects, potential new clients and prospects it’s a lot. I was at this show very differently and one of the things that came to me is this whole vision of, what am I doing with everything after the show?
It’s been a focus of mine to think about shows or events like it’s a trapeze that I’m flying towards. I’ve done this exercise where you climb a pole and get on a disc at the top and there’s a trapeze further out, like 20 feet away from the pole and the goal of this exercise is that you are to stand on the disc and then catapult yourself towards the trapeze. Ultimately, the goal is to catch the trapeze.
The catch with this is that historically and statistically, everybody underestimates what it’s going to take to catapult themselves from the top of the pole to the trapeze. The only way to do this exercise and complete it is to aim through the trapeze and higher than it, past it. It’s the same with a trade show or a business, instead of aiming to get to the show as its sole goal, aim past the show and envision what it is you’re looking to have happen after the show.
That’s where your money, sales and results will show up. It’s an outgrowth of the effect after the show, what you do at the show will depend on literally what you want afterwards. It will influence your process a lot if you think through the goal rather than to it. There’s a lot that happens with Olympic runners in the same way, thinking through the tape at the end of the race, it’s the same thing with your product.