Exponential Growth

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Our human brains have a hard time understanding or accepting exponential trends. We prefer and interpret events and trends to be linear.

Like a nice Sunday drive that is steady in course, direction and speed, we think life events unfold this way.

However, the reality is that we have acceleration occurring at unprecedented speeds. Whether it’s world population, bandwidth or medicine. We are not linear. We are exponential.

This comes from the compounding effects of technology. When technology enters your marketplace, you are off the industrial progress of linear trending and onto exponential growth.

We used to watch blue collar factory work get replaced by robots and automation. Now, the same has happened for white collar office workers. Robots are faster, cheaper and don’t complain.

The network effect of using LinkedIn, Upwork or Twitter to find talent or get things done with a modular project team is within everyone’s grasp now. You just have to rally around your idea and lead. All the resources are a few clicks away to make your ideas happen now.

The network effect is accelerating and available to anyone that is connected. And everyone is connected now.

So, what happens to your position right now? The world is not standing still and the security you might feel could be a deception. You might feel like it’s a linear zone when you are merely in the first part of an exponential curve. It’s not inconceivable you will be replaced or your cost will dramatically reduce.

Once network effects and digitization occur, the commoditization process begins. Computing power, bandwidth and storage are near zero cost. And every day our hypercompetitive economy keeps changing the rules because someone is building on top of the collective knowledge that makes the next step of innovation easier.

The strategy for a world of exponential growth is not to go hope and find places where things are merely linear. That’s not going to happen. The trend across modern reality is efficiency and demonetization.

No, the fit strategy is to map yourself into an exponential mindset. You can participate, thrive and get rich by keeping pace with and trending with exponential growth. Make it a foregone conclusion that automation will replace your work today. But it doesn’t have to replace you.

Your opportunity lies with the ability to develop your personal leadership and use the existing and emerging technology of today to build something people will buy. Start with a few. Make it work. Then make it work at scale.

Have you accepted exponential growth?

The Fit Matters More Than Your Desire

Ever notice that there are things you might want but you are just mediocre at it? Most of the things you attempt, you will be mediocre at, for that matter. Your body, brain and coordination simply underperform compared to a person who naturally steps in and makes it happen.

Being mediocre at something doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. But you may not want to delude yourself into thinking you are going to get big bucks or a championship for your performance.

Fit matters. Your talent and aptitude for a certain thing matter a great deal. I liked John Maxwell’s assessment.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, you can only move up 2 spots with hard work.

If you are a 2 at something, then with hard work, you can become a 4.

The world does not pay for 4’s, especially when there are plenty of 8’s and 9’s around.

But if you are a 7 at something, you can become a 9 at something with hard work.

You can waste a lot of time with good intentions trying to become a 4.

We have this strange folklore in our culture that if we work hard at something, then we can become anything we want.

It’s a myth. Has that played out in your life?

The better approach to finding success is:

  1. Get brutally honest with yourself. Look at how good or bad you really are. We all think of ourselves a little better than others around us see. You can’t get where you want to go if you lie to yourself.
  2. Take inventory. What are you naturally a 7 or higher at? While we may be mediocre at many things, we have an inventory of things that we are likely very good at.
  3. Pick 2. Get really good by showing up every day and practicing those 2 things that are a fit. It is what you are good for, what you are made for.

It’s not a hard process. But you do have to be honest.

And for those areas you don’t have talent, partner with people that can augment you.

If you want to find out what those areas of strength are, consider getting tested.

What can you let go of? What can you commit to more?

Big is Much Harder Than Small

Just because something is working on a small scale does not mean it will work on a larger scale.

You might be able to buy and sell a few computers or hardware but running a division of Hewlett-Packard or Dell is a different game altogether. The amount of resources to manage to get an output has layers of complexity that require deft juggling and trade-offs.

You can have an assistant providing customer service in your consulting, law practice, or professional services. This can alleviate the ongoing bottlenecks to deliver your work with quality and timeliness.

But if you have to scale up and go 10x in clients, data and information flow, by necessity, you will need more people. Now you are in the game of talent management and having to coordinate everyone to align, work and execute in a concerted and cohesive fashion.

Small works because the inputs and outputs are relatively simple. You can satisfy the requirements of your customers by simply working harder. You have a lot of room to make mistakes. You can be sloppy. It’s small, so tweaking how you deliver, sell, market, and support your customers can be done with quick decisions and actions.

If you are big, you have to move many more pieces. Your team is locked into a workflow. They learned to do their job within an architecture that takes more energy to turn should you change your mind. And you have to get them not only acting the way you envision but thinking with you on what is important and how their work matters.

This is why small can be appealing. You don’t have to run an efficient operation all the time. You simply have to stay ahead of customer expectations.

When you get big, you have to manage the team’s expectations and your errors can be more costly. It’s hard to shift to a new process, system or way of doing things when you have new information that you want to act on.

If you are small currently, you will have a challenge in scaling up. And it’s not trivial. The last thing you want to do is underestimate the costliness. Running a big operation demands more. If you’re not up for the hassle, then consider the luxuries of staying small.

Perhaps use the ambition and bandwidth to build something else small and run it in parallel. See if you can gain the net revenue with less hassle this way.

Have you found challenges in scaling up? Do you like small or big?

Procrastination Might Be Telling You Something

“Sometimes the best way to finish a project is to just drop it completely.” ~ Arianna Huffington

We live in a physical, emotional, visceral reality that is constantly giving us feedback. Daunting heights warn us not to jump with abandon. Temperatures tell us whether to touch something or stay clear.

Some things are readily interpreted for our own survival. Others can be taken both ways.

Many people shy away from intensity while others are drawn to it. Intensity can be either good or bad depending on your associations. The same can be said for intimacy. It can be a negative experience, awkward at best, for people that carry pain. It can also be luxurious for those that are romantics.

What should we make of recurring procrastination? For many, it’s a signal to try harder. You have to overcome the laziness or inertia and get work done. In many cases, this is true because of consequences. If you don’t complete that assignment in a class, you have to be ok with the consequence of a failing grade.

On the other hand, what if your procrastination is within the context of a project you decided to do? Noone assigned or demanded your commitment. You volunteered and either you lost motivation or you are up against the natural resistance of the universe.

Every circumstance will be different, however, you might find a better use of your time and productivity if you take a close look at your procrastination on various projects. Have you ever considered the option of dropping projects completely very early?

There’s a lot of merit in being a hard worker who is determined. Heck, you need this to go after your goals many times.

But, if early on, or even later for that matter, you find procrastination continues to be prevalent, you can save a lot of heartache and bandwidth by declaring your work finished by dropping it completely.

It’s not waste. It’s decision making. You started your work or project with good intentions. There are lots of uncertainty. Then you have to make a decision with the new information the universe has presented to you.

Furthermore, every hour you put into something you dread is an hour you rob from something you might love. That sunk-cost bias is expensive when it comes to allocating our energies to ventures, projects and work that will have a payoff.

Your task lists can be frustrating to look at because you have a lot of open loops and tasks left undone. That can be demotivating. But what you may not be seeing is the feedback your work is providing. You may be observing it without acting with decisiveness on whether to fully commit or drop it completely.

To a large extent, noone is telling us what to do. We can choose and that can be frightening. We have to own our choices and the work.

Are there projects you should simply drop right now because you find yourself continually procrastinating?

Creativity Is Still the Differentiator

I think that mentality of working harder is a comfort zone when you don’t know what to do. You don’t have to take ownership of your direction. You can simply, perhaps mindlessly, keep going down a path of merely working without thinking.

If you are a hard worker, that’s great. You need execution to make ideas happen. But if your mindset to win in your market or with customers is to be merely better than everyone else then it can be a losing strategy.

It’s extremely difficult to stand out. It’s also inertia to put on the brakes and pivot when you need to.

Stopping to observe what is happening around you, assessing and exercising creativity will likely get you much more returns on your time and effort. You want to be different, not necessarily better. This means figuring out a game you can stand apart in and win.

It may be a small twist on what you are already doing or positioning your offering within a niche. The differentiation happens because of how you state your position and what is happening in the mind of your customer. You can influence and shape this from your entire approach, communications and consistency.

Yes, you want to be known as a hard worker. But the better positioning is to be known for your ideas more than for your execution. Great execution is expected, thought it often does disappoint when there is a lack thereof.

Someone with ideas that can act on them is extremely valuable. It takes slowing down so you can think through options, scenarios and opportunities to practice idea making and creativity well.

You may be busy. But don’t be so busy that you are only going fast. Often, direction is much more important than velocity. And those you serve will see it this way as well.