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Ordinary People Taking Action
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A straight line brings predictability. I love predictability – devising a plan and then watching it materialize. Yet, my friends will often say that they think I am spontaneous and have a “go-with-the-flow” approach to life. Some might call that more of a curved line. What I’ve come to learn is that this perceived spontaneity is, in fact, something else – resiliency in disguise.
I’ll give you an example. In January, I gave notice to my employer. As is the case for most people giving notice, I had a strategy and plan in place. My strategy was, in short, to launch my own consulting practice. My plan was, in short, to land two big projects relatively quickly after coming off payroll from my employer.
I needed the plan – the belief in the plan – to rationalize that jump.
Leaving a steady job is somewhat risky, and without a plan, I am not so certain I would have made the move when I did. So, with my plan firmly in place, I frantically built and launched a business in a very short period of time. Yet, as I have stated before, I also have been building this practice for over a decade, in my head.
It’s been a little over 90 days since my February 5th launch and here’s what I now know to be true. Every piece of my “plan” has changed. The two large projects that I expected to fall into place? They’re still not closed. Both have run into loopholes and bureaucracy galore. They will come, in time. I am growing in my ability to demonstrate and appreciate patience.
Here’s what I didn’t realize. As doors started to close – or not open quickly – I moved rapidly into “Plan B”. The decision to create a back-up plan wasn’t entirely conscious. What was conscious was my commitment to not failing. Failure for me has very little to do with financial gain, and everything to do with personal growth. I am confident that this experience of starting my own business will teach me more than I imagined. Because of that strong belief, nothing in this adventure will be a failure.
Let me tell you a little about “Plan B”. For one, it was not meticulously thought out like Plan A. Instead, I pieced together Plan B through a string of unexpected connections and random introductions. Through this, I became aware that my second and third-degree networks are much stronger than my first-degree network.
A quick point of clarification on that last statement. My first-degree network offers me more emotional support, and that’s undeniably important. It’s my second and third-degree networks, however, that are closing the deals. I would never have guessed this to be the case. It’s one of many learnings I have had in the last 90 days: second and third-degree networks are extremely important – in a different way than first-degree networks. Trust me on this.
I have also learned that if I sit and wait for my plan to fall perfectly into place, the ship is going to sail. The train will depart. The airplane will take off. Whatever analogy you want to use, if perfection is the goal, the opportunity will simply pass me by. So, in the last 90 days, I have jumped – multiple times – with no plan. My friends and people close to me have said that it must be freeing to be so spontaneous. What they don’t realize is that I am not being spontaneous, I am being resilient.
Spontaneous: a person having an open, natural and uninhibited manner or a process or event occurring without apparent external cause.
Resilient: a person able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
I am resilient. Picture yourself jumping from a really high diving board, with the plan to land in a really big pool. Halfway down, you realize the pool isn’t there. You must course correct, and find a way to recover. That is resilience.
Resiliency is within you; I hope you look deep to find it. When you do, amazing things will happen. Trust me. The three biggest learnings of the last 90 days:
1. Resiliency is incredibly important.
2. Plan A rarely goes as planned.
3. Your network – your entire network – is gold.
Launching a business is an incredible journey. It’s also full of the unexpected – just like life. If it’s a path you’re contemplating, hold on tight.