|Today’s Advice Sponsored by Divvy
It Starts With Strong Commitments
The foundation for having a startup that supports our dream lifestyles is making really strong commitments to those lifestyle choices. For example, if we’re parents and we want to make sure we never miss our kid’s soccer game, we have to publicly make that commitment and stick to it.
Sometimes just announcing those commitments is a great way to get the ball rolling. When we launched Startups.com we had all just had our first kids, so we made a proclamation that we would never let the business get in the way of our families. 8 years later we’ve never broken that promise, largely because it was committed to very publicly, so we could all actively support it.
Take Baby Steps — Then Commit
Where we blow this up as Founders is when we try to take it too far too fast. No, we probably can’t work from a beach in Fiji for 6 months out of the year (yet). But can we try working remotely for a solid week? A big part of shifting our workflow and culture is just making small, consistent steps toward adjusting the company to fit our goals.
When we wanted to create more flexibility at Startups.com, we started by just trying one Wednesday where we could work from home. It was easy to try and easy to reverse if it didn’t work. Now, over 200 people work remotely and we’re more efficient than ever. Those baby steps are what made it possible.
Bring Personal Goals Into Corporate Planning
All too often we separate our “startup goals” from our “personal goals” as if they’re not allowed to intermingle. But really, our startups often ARE our lives, so separating the goals and activities doesn’t make any sense.
What’s worked well for us at Startups.com is that we sync our personal goals first (commitment to our families, free time to pursue interests, how we want to help people) and then figure out how our business can support those goals. We make daily decisions based on that compass, and our lives reflect that.
Lifestyle Design Isn’t a Myth
There’s very little preventing us from designing our startups around our life goals. It starts with us being very clear about what we want to achieve and then taking clear, small steps toward those outcomes.
Life is too short. If we’re going to create something beautiful in the world with our startup, there’s no reason we can’t build a beautiful lifestyle in the process.
“How do I know if I’m the liability?”
That’s the hard part. As Founders, we’re often the last to know because our worlds aren’t entirely set up for total honesty. It requires some actual digging, which, to be fair, is a scary exploration. It helps to have a friend, mentor, co-worker, or spouse that we can trust enough to shoot us straight.
Finding an honest person is the easy part though. Asking the right questions is the hard part. If we use polarizing queries like, “Do people think I’m a total jerk?” we’re going to invite potentially kinder responses in fear of offending us. But something more aspirational like, “Where should I be spending time improving myself?” could really open up some helpful insights.
Trust me, when we are the liability as Founders, it doesn’t take a ton of digging to get some honest responses. Not asking and digging is the real problem.
“What do I do if I’m the liability?”
Get in front of it. Confront the people that we’ve offended or pushed away. In this day and age, fundamental honesty and contrition are a rare commodity. When I pulled people aside and started admitting, “Hey I didn’t realize what a jerk I sounded like in that last meeting…” it blew people away.
The truth is, I didn’t want to be a jerk, and I definitely didn’t want to be a liability. The reality is we can’t prevent ourselves from becoming our worst liability unless we take the time to assess ourselves fairly — and more importantly, do something about it.