Momentum Podcast: 160
Create A Longer Time Horizon
by Alex Charfen
As entrepreneurs we want everything right now in the moment, sometimes yesterday. It is our impatience that makes us successful.
Our insistence that things happen our way is how we change the status quo. In many ways, our impatience is the cause of our success. But it can also be our downfall.
Our impatience can cause us to derail our team, waste resources and make us an ineffective leader. It can cause us to chase shiny objects and delay or halt our progress. When we take a longer time horizon everything changes.
We can tell our team where we are going and rather then following us, they can lead the way and help us get there.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will.
We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent positive human evolution, and we always will be.
Create a longer time horizon. In entrepreneurial organizations, the two biggest complaints from team members are one, there's not enough communication, and two, we change directions far too often. This is not just an empty complaint. When you look at most entrepreneurial companies, both of these things are true. The vast majority of people in entrepreneurial organizations who are working for someone don't really know where the company is going. If you look at most entrepreneurial organizations, they might change direction three times in one week, because the entrepreneur had different ideas or saw something new, talked to someone, went to an event, came back and changed everything in the organization. Does this sound familiar?
This weekend I got a voicemail from one of my favorite clients, her name's Molly Kaiser and she owns Booty Shorts. Her company is training photographers how to do boudoir photography in a certified process that is just incredible. Her message was something like this, "Alex, I have tons of ideas. What do I do with all my ideas? You know, I get them all the time, I want to put them in place, I want to make them work. What should I do?" Well, I know exactly how that feels, especially for Molly. See, she recently started installing our systems, our processes, our programs so that entrepreneurs have infinitely more time to think, so that entrepreneurs have far more clarity, so that you as the entrepreneur actually have space to understand what's going on and see opportunity.
When we clear space like that, here's what happens. The opportunity you see can be overwhelming. It can be everywhere. I could hear the overwhelm of opportunity in Molly's voice. She's like, "I have so many different directions I could go." My reply to her was simple. "Molly, let's take a longer time horizon. Write those ideas down. Flush them out. Figure out what they are. See where you really want them to end up. Then, when we are doing planning for your company, when we are looking at the month or the quarter or the year, let's pull those ideas off the shelf and put them in place."
You get to a point in an organization where ideas that you implement that day, most of the time, almost always, will hurt you. Unless there's an emergency, unless there's a massive change meeting and major policy correction, something that you found that was just broken and wrong, ideas implemented in the day with a team will hurt you. What we are trying to do once we build a team is predict the future. If you're always changing the present, that becomes near impossible.
See, what we want to be able to do with a team is say, "Here's where we're going." Show them the plan. Show them the outcomes. Show them what we actually want. "Here's who's going to do what." Show them who's accountable on the team for each individual part of that plan, that process. Who is going to actually put the items together so that that plan moves forward, and then show them what you're measuring to see if you're successful or not. What are you looking at? Is it milestones? Is it measurements? What type of metrics are you looking at to make sure that you are successful? This is forward planning. See, this is that process where you show your team where you're going so they can get out in front of you. You're not longer the biggest bottleneck, and you can coach success along the way. This is the absolute fastest way to grow a business.
Here's why so many entrepreneurs start growing a team, maybe even get to $1 million, and then get to a place where they just feel plateaued or bottle-necked or stuck, like they just can't go any further. So many entrepreneurs, I'm hoping not you, but so man entrepreneurs have gotten to the place where they think, "My team's now frustrating me. My team's now harder than it was before. Wasn't it easier when I was all alone? I feel like I'm working for the team, they're not working for me." Then, so many entrepreneurs have the fantasy of going back to doing it all themselves and some even pull the trigger and end up firing everyone because they just can't understand how to make it all work.
Here's the challenge. In most cases, if you go back and we do an autopsy on why that situation didn't work and we look at why that person had to fire their whole team or felt like they had to, or why an entrepreneur's overwhelmed in the moment, what we often find is that they have killed their longer time horizon. They're no longer using forward planning. They're making decisions in the moment and trying to implement them immediately.
They're changing things in the moment, changing direction on their team, and here's what happens. Just follow this with me. When we tell our team where we're going, when we set an outcome in the future, whether it's a month away, a quarter away, or a year away, and we say this is what we're going to do, the team all prepares for that outcome. They get ready for it. They get excited about it. They start heading towards it and they try and do everything they can to accomplish it so that you and the team can win, because people want to win.
I want you to understand something: everyone on your team wants to win. Everyone on your team wants to be successful. Everyone on your team wants to be recognized for doing well at what they do. They might not present the same way you do. They might not seem to work as hard or as fast as you do. They might not have the same exact personality type that you do, but I can tell you that for every single one of them, that is true. Unless you have the wrong person on your team, and that's just a simple decision. People want to win.
When you show someone the path to winning, when you say, "Here's where we're going, this is where I want you to put your time, your effort, your energy, your focus," and you have them begin moving there, then you pivot, everything that they're doing in the present feels futile. Everything they're doing feels like a complete waste of time. The effort, the energy, the focus that they've put into this process, whatever it was, to help you achieve the goal that you said you wanted is now thrown aside.
Here's what happens if you do that to people consistently: you lose trust with your team. First, they'll stop believing the outcomes that you tell them you're going to pursue because you always change them. They'll know that when you say, "Hey everyone, here's where we're going," what you really mean is, "here's where we might be going. Here's where we're probably going. Here's where I think we're going, but probably not. Here's where we're really going."
What happens when you get into a situation like that with your team, it becomes near impossible to convince them to put in the time, the effort, the energy, the focus that you need. In fact, what happens is you almost immediately start losing their discretionary time. People aren't going to think about the business on the way to work while they're driving if they know that those thoughts are unnecessary because they probably won't come to any type of fruition. People aren't going to obsess about your business over the weekend when they're laying in bed and taking a shower and coming up with new ideas for your company. That will all go away if you don't take a longer time horizon.
When you throw people's work away because you pivot in the moment, when you make people feel insignificant because you told them you were going in a direction and then you change it, when you make people feel like they wasted their time, their energy, their effort, and focus, it doesn't matter how much you pay them, they will start to feel used and frustrated and irritated and upset, and even angry with you, because people want to win.
What we don't realize as entrepreneurs is when we continuously pivot, when we're constantly changing things, when we don't take a longer time horizon, when we get impatient and decide that we want something right now, we absolutely damage our ability to lead our team. When we pivot in the moment, we're not only not predicting the future, we're changing it in the moment. When we change the outcomes that we're pursuing with our team, we can send them into a full panic because they've been working on an outcome they've committed to, and now you change everything. When we take that belief that we need to have it right now, that we want it yesterday, that we want to change everything, we damage our ability to build a real organization that leaves a significant dent in the universe.
When you look at major corporations, the companies that you and I respect, they're planning years in advance. When an entrepreneur tells me, "Alex, I don't like this. It feels constraining not to be able to change my mind. It feels like I can't do what I want to do if I can't come in and tell my team to change everything one day. I want to be able to keep leading the business like this." My reply is simple. "Great, you can, but it's going to be a half-hearted, difficult to grow, hard to build the team, challenging organization to work in because you're not willing to have the maturity of decision making and delayed gratification that will actually allow you to build a team, show them where you're going, coach their success along the way, and achieve massive results."
As an entrepreneur, this is one of the toughest lessons to learn and it doesn't just happen all at once with your team. I mean, first, start working on making commitments in the week that everyone succeeds at and everyone makes happen. Create a forward planning system or adopt a forward planning system, or heck, just come to us and check ours out. We can help you do this very well. When you do this, when you show your team where you're going and you coach success along the way and you stick to that plan, you will get consistent results over time.
Every world changing organization in the history of man has been able to do one thing: predict the future. Apple computer tells you when they're going to release a new product, and it's there. Tesla just started shipping out model threes this month, which by the way are a little bit late, but still, they're changing the entire combustible engine market and saving the world while they're at it. If that doesn't work, Musk has a plan to back us up on Mars anyways so we're probably pretty good. Things like that do not happen without taking a longer time horizon.
You have to ask yourself, what type of entrepreneur are you? Are you an impatient entrepreneur that needs everything right now, that wants to have it happen all at once? Or, are you a world changer? Are you a game changer? Are you someone who's truly going to leave your dent in the universe, because if you are, then you must stop making decisions in the moment that affect your team. You must take a longer time horizon and dismiss the immature decision making of seeing a squirrel or a shiny object and changing your entire company's plan in the moment. When you stick to a plan and you allow your team to execute and you get to a destination, you now have perspective on what you're capable of and what you can do the next month. You do that every single month of the year, and you will see massive changes in your business that will be there permanently.
Running the business is one of the greatest privileges in the world. Growing a team is a exercise that will teach us more about ourselves and who we are than anything else that we can do as a human being. Taking a longer time horizon is a step into entrepreneurial maturity that, when an entrepreneur accepts it, everything changes. When people like you and I are willing to look away from the shiny object and ignore the squirrel in the moment and put a plan in place, drive towards it, and then crush through the outcome we wanted, we create the discipline and the muscle memory of predicting the future and making it real. Take a longer time horizon and you'll see everything in your business and your life change.
If you're ready to do this now, I'm ready to help you and I want to help you. Go to momentummasterclass.com. Check out the course that we have that's already helped hundreds of entrepreneurs take a longer time horizon, understand exactly what they want in their life, their business, their relationships, create a level of focus that they've never had before, and have the systems and tools to execute on all of it. It's the first personal development process or system ever created for the entrepreneurial personality type and it's the only one out there made exactly for people like you and I to create momentum. Momentummasterclass.com, I'll see you there.