One of the important features of Lisbon Challenge is the pressure that we believe must be in place for founders to be on top of their game, all the time. It’s not something that you switch on, but instead a change in mindset. It starts with creating overall goals for the 3-month program, breaking them down monthly, weekly, whereby you are left with tasks that need to be completed daily.
To achieve your goals, one thing is for sure, it will take a lot more than you ever envisaged. Regardless of how superior your product, strategy or team is, there will always be factors that you never planned for – economic changes, legal matters, competition, market uncertainty, cash flow problems, technology problems, human resources issues (lots of them), strikes, acts of terrorism.
One of the biggest examples of how founders underestimate the difficulties is when they leave a salary to go and work on their new startup, assuming that they will have the much needed private runway to get to the salary point they were when they left the sanctuary of the corporate world. It can take years and not months. That’s where most founders quit – because of the sheer amount of resistance and disappointment they will feel during the early stages.
Other times, we see this when startups give up after a few email attempts and a couple of phone calls that don’t get answered to get that brand onboard. Many will find reasons (excuses) why they don’t achieve the results they set out to accomplish. Some give up, others just prolong the agony by keeping the startup on the slow burner whilst they look elsewhere for “new opportunities”.
When you embark on cold calling, in growth hacking and in customer acquisition, to name just a few of the challenges at hand, you will have to substantially increase your efforts, allocated resources and time needed to accomplish them. With the same processes but with the correct estimation of effort, resources and time needed, you will see a substantial increase in results. When you align the correct amount of action needed, and execute at that level, you will begin to understand why so many people simply give up. You already have in the past – it’s just that you found “reasons” for the inaction. That’s why this is so hard and the rewards are so high.
All Around You
One of the challenges that you face when trying to execute at a high level is the environment in which you operate. There are multiple factors that are beyond your control and so you should eliminate them from your conversations. Make a list of all the external factors that could impact your decisions and business, then place them aside and concentrate on what you do have control over.
“Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” E. B. White – American Writer
Most people will hesitate when asked how luck comes into the equation. However, most successful founders, that are intellectually honest, will admit that luck played an important role in their success. What is luck? Some believe that good luck is when you have basic goals whilst bad luck comes as a result of unreasonably difficult goals. However you view luck, it is part of the equation and you better get used to it. You can to some extent make your own luck by placing yourself in the right places at the right time. Though no guarantee, it does increase your odds of getting the timing right. Make sure you are on top of your game, always, as you never know when, where or how the next opportunity presents itself. You can read more about how luck matters more than you think.
You are Your Worst Enemy
Having understood your surroundings and the impact they have on you, whether positive or negative, you should start to look to yourself and Mark Manson does a great job at writing up why you can’t trust yourself. He goes into some depth on the following factors:
- You are biased and selfish without realizing it – the “Moralization Gap” whereby if someone else runs a red light, they are an asshole, yet when you do it, there is no end to the rationalization of why it had to happen;
- You don’t have a clue about what makes you happy
- You are easily manipulated into making bad decisions – people’s decision making can be easily manipulated in a variety of ways, one of which is by giving someone a “gift” before asking for a favor in return. Dan Ariely has multiple examples of this in his TED TALKS and books on irrationality;
- You really only use logic and reason to support your preexisting beliefs
- Your emotions change your perceptions more than you realize
- You have a terrible memory
- My favourite? You aren’t who you think you are
What to do?
As you wrestle with procrastination, luck, external factors and your own fucked up self, there are many ways to get you on track to executing at your highest level. You need to first admit that these things affect you and that you really want to change. It’s not about working more hours but actually the opposite – working less hours but more productively.
No successful plan can exist without understanding the process of creating goals and seeing them through and because this is such a recurrent theme, we have to start at the beginning in order to understand the fundamentals. As we hear more and more about the importance of goals, the law of familiarity kicks in and we inevitably take all this for granted.
Once you learn effective goal setting, you will have to make this a daily habit as repetition is the key to mastering a skill. Make sure that you have forcing functions in place to keep you on track. Early Monday morning is great to define your objectives and tasks for the week based on your overall goal whilst Friday is the obvious time to revisit them and see where you managed to exceed your expectations and where you fell short. Small deviations in a week are easily recovered.
Start now and get ready for the amount of effort and time that you will have to allocate to planning and executing, but one thing is for sure, the results will be very different from those you achieved in the past.