The 2 Most Powerful Words for a Business Owner
We recently spent some time with our Elite Mastermind members. Clate Mask, CEO of Keap, shared with the group the 2 most powerful words for a business owner. Clate successfully grew a startup to over $100M in revenue. This was one of those gold nugget moments from someone who knows, and we all took note.
Speaking to the chaos every business owner deals with on a daily basis, especially those leading high-growth companies, Clate said the 2 most powerful words are, “I’m clear.”
It’s easy for us to get swept away by the current of requests, incoming calls, texts, emails, tasks and never-ending to-do lists. Many refer to this as putting out fires. Others talk about how we get stuck working IN the business instead of working ON the business. Whatever you like to call it, the chaos of business ownership often has us on our heels in a reactive, defensive stance rather than being in a proactive, offensive posture.
While this may sound familiar to anyone who read my most recent blog post – The Key to Breaking Out of Reaction Mode – I promise this one will be different.
In this post I want to spend more time describing some of the pain of being in the chaos and not getting clear and then contrast that with the power of clarity for everyone involved.
The Pain of Chaos
While there may be moments of excitement, rushes of adrenaline and even some great victories to celebrate when you are battling the chaos, the costs of operating this way are too high and are unsustainable.
When chaos reigns, your brain operates in survival mode, which prevents you from engaging effectively in higher order thinking. Strategy, creativity, collaboration, logic and reason happen when you are able to utilize the front part of your brain.
The possibilities you see when your brain is in survival mode are freeze, fight or flight, which happens in the lower “lizard” brain called the amygdala. Most entrepreneurs probably see themselves as being in fight mode much of the time, but honest introspection would likely reveal some amount of getting stuck (freeze response) or wanting to run from, ignore or procrastinate addressing larger challenges (flight response). You can’t thrive when you are stuck in survive.
Whatever your preferred method of surviving the daily attacks experienced in business ownership chaos, you can’t maintain your own mental, emotional and physical health under prolonged exposure to this kind of stress. And if personal health weren’t reason enough, the pain of staying in survival mode extends to strained family relationships and even your financial well-being. You simply aren’t your best self when it comes to interacting with the people you care about the most and don’t make sound decisions when you are constantly living in chaos at work.
And if you’ve tricked yourself into thinking you are the only one feeling the weight and strain of the chaos in your business, your people are feeling it too. In fact, chaos tends to multiply as it travels down the organization chart.
When you aren’t clear, your employees can’t be clear either. Think of it this way, if you as the business owner were being spun at a dizzying rate at the center of a merry-go-round (or the whirlwind of your business), your people are hanging on for dear life at the edge of the merry-go-round… the centrifugal force is nearly unbearable.
To make things even more interesting, it isn’t uncommon for business owners to come in pairs. If partners don’t see eye-to-eye it creates a divided dynamic in the business that has employees responding to requests from both partners that are sometimes completely opposite. I’ve also seen businesses owned and run by a married couple, where the employees felt like they were working for a “Mom and Dad” who weren’t always on the same page. Definitely chaotic!
The great thing about allowing the chaos of the business to rule the day is that you will be swamped with things to do. With so many things to do, you have no shortage of tasks to spend your valuable time on. However, simply responding to everything coming at you will never take you to a destination you’ve declared. Rather than running your business by design to an intentional future, you might be stuck running your business into a default future. When the destination and the path are unclear, there is a lot of wobble in your company.
As my good friend, Clate Mask, will say. Business naturally creates chaos and confusion. A good leader creates confidence in everyone around them through clarity and alignment. So, how is that done?
The Power of Clarity
Think about it for yourself as the business owner. You are most confident when you are clear about where you want to take the business, the strategy you will employ to get there and the team you will need to assemble.
You have so many things going on. Every day worries and pressures (employee issues, customer complaints, production or quality challenges, churn problems, making payroll, etc.), and thoughts about where to take the business in the future (Do you try to keep growing? How would you get there if you did? Is there a plan to exit or a succession plan of some sort?) consume you. It’s so chaotic as a business owner that trying to write about it is even chaotic!
Clarity and alignment breed confidence. When people know why we are doing something, how we work with one another, where we are headed and our chosen path for getting there, they can sift through all of the noise of the whirlwind and make decisions with confidence.
People do their best to move forward even if they aren’t completely sure about where they are headed. You must take time on a regular basis to get clear for yourself so you can give clarity to those you lead. That requires you to get out of the business on a regular basis, preferably to a place where you can do your best thinking.
When you set a clear vision with your people about why your company exists, the Values you live by and the specific destination you are leading them to, it dispels the confusion of ambiguity. When you bring that level of clarity and then align your people and your resources to pursue the straightest course to the stated destination, you enable everyone associated with the business to move with purpose and confidence. No wobble. No uncertainty. Just efficient, coordinated action to achieve your goals.
Clarity and alignment bring confidence, and having confident people leads to great results.
So, when Clate shared that, “I’m clear” are the two most important words our Elite Mastermind members could use with their teams, I took note.
I’ve watched Clate make and take the time necessary to get away from the whirlwind and chaos of the office to get clear at least once a quarter for more than a decade. He comes back recharged and confident, and then he drives that clarity throughout the entire company. His clarity is contagious, and people are always craving more of it.
If you want to see your business soar, try a strong dose of clarity and alignment in your business. You’ll be glad you did!
If you’ve successfully grown a $1M+ business and need help getting more clarity into your business, feel free to schedule a call with me to discuss what you need to do next. Even the best leaders I know benefit from getting some outside perspective to get more clear. Grab a time on my calendar, and we’ll talk soon.
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