This is the fifth of five articles in the Give Birth to Your Visionary Business series, originally delivered as an email series starting on Martin Luther King Day of 2017. I've ported it here to the blog without changing the original content – which is just as relevant as it was a year ago. Learn more about the entire series here.
Welcome to the fifth and final lesson of this series on visionary business leadership!
So far we’ve covered:
- Dropping struggle and appreciating where you are
- Creating a compelling vision
- Building your brilliant team
- Developing a sound strategy
And now, all you’ve gotta do is everything else – all the thousands of tasks, emails, conversations, financial details, and other things it takes to actually build your business.
In this lesson I will:
- Share the two sides of business success
- Debunk the myth of the 4-hour workweek
- Reveal what separates successful visionary business leaders from broke-ass visionaries
- Introduce a new way of being productive that has you get more done with less stress
The Two Sides of Business Success are Alignment and Action.
Alignment is how well your purpose, vision, superpowers, strategy, brand, etc. fit together into a compelling and coherent whole.
Action is everything you do on a daily basis to move the needle forward.
More alignment leads to a greater return on your efforts. When you are fully aligned, the actions you take will make the biggest difference.
More action means more clients, more impact, and more revenue – essentially, a greater flow through your business.
Alignment without action is impotent. Action without alignment is wasteful.
So far this entire email series has been about alignment, but I don’t want you to take that the wrong way. You need to take action, and lots of it!
A Reality Check for the Tim Ferriss Fans
If you’ve fallen for the myth of the 4-hour workweek, I’m sorry to rain on your beach vacation… but you will not be able to build your visionary business in 4 hours a week.
You know that 9 out of 10 startups fail, right? You should consider yourself very lucky if, after putting in years of dedicated work, one day you will have a self-sustaining business.
(If you don’t believe me, think about it. If it were really that easy, wouldn’t everyone have their own million-dollar startup?)
I say this not to demoralize you, or to say that the determined work of building a business can’t be satisfying and fun much of the time, but it’s only fair to warn you. You need to be in love with what you do. You need to be totally committed to making it work, even if you fail thousands of times along the way.
Otherwise, go get a job.
The Big Difference
The difference between a broke-ass visionary who’s always inspired but never gets anything off the ground (you probably know a lot of these types…) and a visionary who’s actually leading a successful business is powerful action. You’ve heard this before:
“Massive action is the cure-all” – Tony Robbins
“Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.’’ – Chris Sacca, Investor in Twitter & Uber
“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” – Steve Jobs
And straight from the mouth of the OG of entrepreneurship, Thomas Edison:
“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”
Which leads us to this lesson’s visionary business capacity:
Visionary Business Capacity #5 – When you take powerful action towards goals that are aligned with your soul’s purpose, success is inevitable.
Powerful action is inspired and effective. When you take powerful action consistently, you get momentum towards success.
Introducing Sustainable Productivity
How are we able to take powerful action without burning out?
This is the question. If we overwork and get sick or depressed we can’t get anything done, and besides, we didn’t become entrepreneurs to be miserable and chain ourselves to our desks.
Sustainable Productivity is a method I’ve developed for getting more done with less stress and more enjoyment. (I have a half-written book on the subject – how ironic! – but for now I’ll just give you a taste.)
I’d like to illustrate this new way of creating with a fictional story of two entrepreneurs, Tony and Teresa.
The Stories of Tony and Teresa
Tony and Teresa both wake up on a Friday morning with the same difficult assignment – they promised their community that they’d launch a new service by the end of the day, and they haven’t even started working on their sales pages yet.
The Story of Tony
Tony wakes up when his alarm goes off at 7am. He has an extra large coffee to combat his fatigue, then sits down at his desk and starts typing. He’s having a hard time finding the right words but he keeps pushing through.
At noon, he takes a quick lunch break and gets back to it, producing a large volume of words, following the conventional format for a “killer extra-long sales page.”
By 4pm, he realizes it’s not hanging together, so he rewrites everything. He skips going to his favorite class at the gym and keeps working until he can’t think straight anymore, finally publishing the page by 9pm.
He goes home feeling angry at his life and has a couple beers to take the edge off. This is a typical day.
The Story of Teresa
Teresa wakes up naturally at 9am. She gets up, meditates, and goes for a walk in nature, and has a healthy and leisurely brunch, knowing that she needs to be well-resourced for the day ahead.
When she sits down to her computer at 11am, she realizes that she’s not entirely clear on what she’s trying to say. So she puts some big post-its on the wall and sketches out various concepts for her sales page. She also calls a few friends who are in her niche for inspiration. Finally, by 1pm, she is clear on her vision and feels a characteristic rush of energy flowing through her. “Yes!” she says to herself.
She writes the entire page in under two hours. It’s not long but it feels right. She spends the rest of the afternoon drawing some cartoons to bring the page to life. She takes a break, comes back for one final edit, and publishes the page by 5pm. She feels proud of what she accomplished and goes out with friends to celebrate that night.
How do their results compare?
Next week, Tony and Teresa each check on their metrics. Tony’s disappointed. The performance of his sales page is mediocre. Teresa’s page, on the other hand, is performing well! She’s even been receiving emails of appreciation from customers who are touched by the humor and authenticity of what she created – especially the cartoons!
Do you work more like Tony or Teresa?
The way Tony works is what I would call Fossil Fuel Productivity – pushing hard, burning his resources, and producing uninspiring (if copious) results. Teresa, on the other hand, is practicing Sustainable Productivity – taking care of herself, tuning into natural rhythms, finding inspiration, and creating amazing results from a state of flow.
My intention in telling these parables, for most of you at least, is to give you permission to be more like Teresa.
Like a string instrument, you can be wound too loose or too tight. If you're too loose with productivity, then maybe your learning is to be a more like Tony (but in an effective sort of way). But for most of us, in this over-driven culture, even if we think we need to be more hardcore what we really need is to relax and be kinder to ourselves around productivity. The paradox is that we get more done this way.
Especially if you're a sensitive soul like me, you will find that creating more like Teresa is optimal and sustainable. This lesson is your permission slip to honor your own ideal productivity style.
There are many more specific skills I teach regarding Sustainable Productivity, such as prioritizing fiercely (saying “no” to distractions and “yes” to deep work on the important stuff). And of course sticking with it in the face of failure.
For now, all I want to do is open a conversation about the possibility of taking powerful action with ease, balancing creation with relaxation. Appreciating for how far you’ve come, there is always room to grow!
Sustainable Productivity Reflection Exercise
In a journal or document on your computer, ask yourself:
- How satisfied are you with your current level of productivity? (1-5, 5 being most satisfied)
- What are your top 3 struggles or challenges when it comes to Sustainable Productivity?
- What do you want when it comes to Sustainable Productivity?
Allow your answers to these questions to guide your journey of learning and action.
One Last Wrap-Up Article to Come!
This was the fifth and final lesson of this series, but there's one last article to bring it all together and tie it with a bow.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. It’s been an honor!
Here's the final final article:
Parting Words for Visionary Leaders