How many people would get on an airplane and travel around the world to start a new life with only $400 in their pocket? Well that’s exactly what I did. Did I know what was going to happen? No, not at all. I didn’t have a clue, but I think success in business follows a similar route. Most people think they need to get from A to Z in a straight line – as the crow flies. My original goal was to go to school and get a business degree – that was my A-to-Z plan. But I missed that target by a mile. Thinking about it now, I skipped business school because it wasn’t ever really my goal. It seemed like a box I should tick off, but it wasn’t my passion.
So the next time you take a flight, think about the fact that you may spend as much as 95% of the journey off the charted course. Weather, wind, and other factors shift an airplane off its intended flight plan, and the pilot must keep re-evaluating the position and making corrections to ensure you ultimately land exactly on target.
Our paths become more clear with time, but in the beginning most of us may not have a clue as to the direction we should be driving our businesses. For some that is a scary idea, for others like me, that’s where the fun begins.
Explore ‘Where Are You’
This is where exploring and asking yourself “where are you?” comes in: it makes things clearer without you even knowing it. Never underestimate what life might have in store for you. I believe that successful people, in this case people who build successful businesses, are driven by circumstances and then led by opportunity. I use the acronym WAY (“Where Are You?”) to describe this winning intersection of luck and go-getting.
So ask yourself, “where are you now?” What unique combination of circumstances, skills and needs is open to you, here and now, and to no one else? What are your passions, and how can you apply them to the context you find yourself in? You need to have some idea of where you want to go, but be open to the idea that you might end up somewhere else. If you’re not successful yet, get out of your comfort zone and go another direction.
Have faith in ‘Where Are You ’
After I decided to bypass business school, I ultimately ended up in a far better place, achieving the true goal that I’d wanted all along. You must firmly believe that – wherever you are now – success is right around the corner. A successful entrepreneur I know always says, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens.”
For those who are game, who are willing to take risks and go against the grain, you can achieve great gains. But you need to look at where you are, understand what you’re doing and expecting, and know generally where you want to go. Then you need to get up, get moving, and share that dream with others.
Create your own opportunities
There’s no point in trying to force your way to success in business. Opportunities come from circumstances, and only the right circumstances bring those golden opportunities. If you don’t seem to be getting any opportunities, you may need to change some things about your life – thereby changing your circumstances.
Look carefully at the WAY (“where are you”) again. What unique circumstances are you part of? Capitalize on the opportunities provided, and don’t strive for goals that ignore your current circumstances – you are unlikely to be successful.
Just show up
Once you’ve got to grips with your circumstances, focus on your own responses and what you personally can do to make positive steps towards your goal. Just show up and be open-minded. As you watch the people and businesses around you, you’ll start to see the available opportunities and figure out what excites your imagination.
Take a step back from analysis. You can miss opportunities by spending too long scrutinising every little detail and waiting for the circumstances to be just right. Of course you’ll want to make sure you have the best chance at success, but procrastination will get you nowhere. Show up and pitch in.
Learn as you build
Your WAY may change from day to day or from week to week – in business, circumstances never stop evolving and fluctuating, dependent as they are on wider economic or political trends. It’s not a straight line from A to Z, and there will be many digressions along the way. But some of the digressions might in fact turn out to be better routes.
If something doesn’t work or you have a setback, try something new. The crucial thing is to keep learning as you build so that every time you are wrong, you leave yourself in a better position to make the necessary adjustments until you get the model right.
Image Credit: CC by Moyan Brenn