I’m going to walk way out on a limb and assume you want to grow—financially, professionally, and personally. Okay, it wasn’t much of a limb. More like lounging in a lawn chair while looking at the tree. Regardless, the gifts discussed below apply to any endeavor. From building your firm to concocting tastier dinners.
Let’s throw a couple of ideas in the blender and see what happens. The first idea: To improve (a.k.a. grow) you need to know what to do and you have to be able to do it. Second idea: Good is the enemy of great; i.e., if you settle for good-enough you’ll never achieve audacious goals.** Push the ice-crush button and we come up with the following:
Most quadrant charts encourage you to migrate from “bad” boxes to the best box. But in this case there’s a crazy Danger Zone lurking in the middle. The excerpt below from a recent proposal I submitted illustrates the peril.
“For your purposes bad data would be worse than no data. Lacking any data you will proceed cautiously, test your way into decisions, and find errors in execution fairly inexpensively. However, with bad data you may proceed full steam ahead in the wrong direction, leading to very expensive errors.”
The Danger Zone is when you think you know what to do, but you actually don’t or, worse, your limited knowledge is pointing you in the wrong direction. The other component of the Danger Zone is when you think you can do something well (or well enough) but you actually can’t (or shouldn’t).** For example, most consultants should not squander precious time on bookkeeping, routine analysis, or posting social media.
What you need are the two gifts that will eject you from the Danger Zone: Perspective and Reliable Information. Sounds easy and obvious. So why don’t we, as consultants, have perspective and reliable information?
- It’s difficult to gain perspective when you’re constantly ping-ponging between delivering projects and scrambling for new business. Where in that mad dash for projects or delivery is stepping back to build long-term growth?
- You can’t see your own blind spots. The old bromide is true: “You can’t see your label from the inside of the bottle.”
- Reliable information is scarce when data is non-existent. If you don’t track anything, you won’t know where you are. Since most consulting companies track little beyond their revenue it’s no surprise there’s a paucity of reliable information.
- Information is of little value unless you have benchmarks or experience. Let’s say 50% of prospects you reach out to call you back to learn more. Is that good? Without benchmarks, you’re living in the Danger Zone.
Fortunately, obtaining the gifts of Perspective and Reliable Information is pretty simple: enlist outside viewpoints, track your results and access benchmarks.
For instance, mastermind groups are a useful source of perspective, as are experts, advisers and mentors. The right adviser(s) will also be able to tell you what to track and will have benchmark data.
Are you inhabiting the Danger Zone on your business? Probably. The most insidious aspect of this condition is that we rarely realize we’re in it. We think we’re lounging in the lawn chair when we’re actually teetering on a high limb.
Take an honest look at your consulting practice. Where do you think you’re adroit but, in reality you lack reliable information and haven’t been soliciting perspective? Please post below one Danger Zone you see for your business. (Don’t worry, we’re all supportive in this community.)
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.