Three Big Questions for Entrepreneurs

Last May my husband died.  After Chuck had several strokes, it was pretty clear we were in “countdown”.  He had always wanted to go fast, but that’s not how it happened, so the last six months were hard for everyone.  I was in a bubble – trying to stay “in the moment”, be with him, and survive that experience. Without question this was a very turbulent time for me and my company.

In the book Leading at the Speed of Growth, I talk about how dangerous turbulence can be for a company.  In fact, if you haven’t planned for it, you and your company can easily get overpowered by the current and sucked under by a whirlpool.

But if you’re able to get out of the current and into the eddies, turbulence can serve as a powerful “kick in the pants”.  It makes you stop and have the time to examine how you got to this point, what you’ve been doing right and wrong, and whether you’re going in the direction you want, or you’re simply being swept along by the current.

My turbulence forced me to ask hard questions about what I am doing vs. want to be doing. For the first time in a long time, I am free to make choices that are right for me without having to worry about the impact of those decisions on a spouse or family.

I’ve noticed that people and companies – myself included –can become boxed in without even knowing it.  We think we’re making changes, but we’re really only tinkering around the edges, trying to get better at what we do.  Seldom do we take the time to consider whether this is the best way to achieve our personal goals or the company’s goals. Fortunately for me, I was able to pull over to the edge of the river, and do some thinking.  I talked with lots of people and got lots of advice.  In essence, people suggested that I ask three questions (1) What do I love to do? (2) What am I good at? (3)Where do I want to do it?

The answers came pretty quickly.  I love to work with CEOs, helping them unlock their company’s growth potential.   After working with hundreds of CEOs, I’m good at quickly recognizing the patterns, the typical problems, and know what they need to do in order to grow.  I’ve decided there are two places I want to do my work — Boulder Colorado and Adelaide, Australia!  So my plan is to live in both places, and work to create a bridge between Boulder and Adelaide. Is this exciting? You bet!  Is this something I would have thought about a year ago? No way! 

The turbulence in my life prompted me to step back,  question what I was doing, and ask whether it I was really achieving my personal goals – and if not, to make changes! The good news is that you don’t have to experience this kind of turbulence before asking these three questions.  But you do need to give yourself time to answer them, and permission to make the changes required to get you back on track.  Life is not a dress rehearsal – it’s the real thing – so don’t dilly-dally. Figure out what you love to do, are good at and where you want to do it – then go for it!