You are familiar with the phrase “what got you to where you are today isn’t going to get you to where you need to go tomorrow.” Then there is the variation: “you got yourself to where you are today; you trust that you can get yourself where you need to go tomorrow.” How about: “you got yourself into this; you are going to have to get yourself out of this.”
You are the CEO of YOU: the common denominator of your enterprise, your career, your job function, your academic, technical or business expertise (or both), your vision, your goals. This title is for startups, entrepreneurs, established businesses, and everything in-between. How well do you trust yourself in today’s rapidly changing, global business development playing field?
Here are 5 tips for evaluating where you are today and trusting yourself about where you are going tomorrow:
Tip #1: Do you trust yourself? That’s the underlying premise! There’s more involved in answering this question than simply acknowledging that you have self confidence about your ability to execute sound business judgment. Are you the same person who passionately started out your career or your enterprise? We all mature over time, as we take a few knocks, learn a lot more, grow older and hopefully wiser, and don’t repeat the same mistake twice. Running a business (or doing our job) may have its ups and downs. The thrill may be gone from time to time as we deal with the daily realities and fire-fighting which temporarily distract us from our long-term vision. Ultimately, do you still know yourself and have an uncompromised value system? Good. I thought so.
Tip #2: Are your core capabilities the same or have they changed since you started out? Your core capabilities are the skill and value foundation upon which your enterprise or job is built. Have you been able to leverage your experiences to augment your core capabilities or have you had to abandon them? Core capabilities can be reconfigured over and over again, as different opportunities present themselves. The best students, entrepreneurs and business owners see their experiences, and core capabilities, as additive so that they are not continually reinventing the wheel.
Tip #3: Are you getting in the way of where you are going tomorrow? This is a tough one for folks who are used to leading, with everyone following or being dragged along. Sometimes, the reason a company or project cannot go forward is that we, ourselves, are holding everything back. In the world of entrepreneurship, we call this a “pivot. Realizing when you need to step out of the way is a form of leadership, rather than being perceived as a sign of failure. ” Let it go if it’s for everyone else’s good, including your own.
Tip #4: Do you give in to second-hand opinion and, subsequently, self-doubt? No one said there was an Easy Button to professional and business development. From time to time, we take on too many challenges, accept projects we may regret, work with folks who drive us crazy. If we played things safe, we wouldn’t be presented with these opportunities. Leading and self-development involves assumption of risk. It’s not a matter of feeling inadequate. It’s more a matter of understanding the tools and knowledge and network we need to access to get to the next level. If in doubt, re-read Tip #1 again. Good. I thought so.
Tip #5: Are you comfortable in expansion mode? Some of us like the comfort of the niche markets and core capabilities we’ve grown for ourselves. Others of us like to put all the pieces together and move out into uncharted waters which are complementary to the skill sets we are leveraging. This question is a variation of Tip #3. And it’s a matter of how well you understand your customers, and your relationship with them.
If you are the CEO of a company which wants to expand, yet you are comfortable in your niche, perhaps it’s time to form a new company based on that niche and on your comfort level. Let the rest of the company sail into what you perceive as those uncharted expansion waters, with someone new at the helm and you on the Board of Directors. You both end up where you are going tomorrow.
Do you trust yourself?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.