Have you ever been involved in a project that had spurts and sputters along the way? One marked by flurries of creativity mixed with periods of inactivity. One that was at once exhilarating and maddening. And have you ever had to grapple with the decision of whether to stay with the task in which you have invested a lot of resources (time, ego, and money), or move on?
While such decisions can be confusing and gut wrenching, two pieces of advice may help you find clarity.
The first is what one of my mentors told me: At some point in a business relationship, the time may come to make the decision for “no deal.” If what is on the table does not satisfy both parties, then both parties walk away amicably. Stephen Covey refers to this as Win-Win-Or No Deal in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Jim Collins offers sage advice in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. In it, he introduces the Hedgehog Concept and its three interconnected questions:
- What are you passionate about? This means you really love to do the work and enjoy the process of the work or project at hand. Collins puts forth this test: “I look forward to getting up and throwing myself into my daily work, and I really believe in what I’m doing.”
- What can you be the best in the world at? In other words, what do I have a God-given talent to do? Again, Collins’ words: “I feel that I was just born to be doing this.” The other side is to understand what you cannot be the best at.
- What drives your economic engine? This means what you do brings economic rewards. “I get paid to do this?” Collins says you might ask yourself, “What is going to give me the highest rate of return on my efforts?”
Video recommendation for the week:
If you would like to hear Jim Collins himself describe the Hedgehog Concept click here.
When confronted with hard decisions to pursue a project, stay with a project, or move away from a project, you might find this three-question exercise clarifying. Only you can answer if you should invest energies in a pursuit that would detract from your personal and business goals. Perhaps asking yourself if the endeavor will enhance the quality of life will help you sort it all out.
If you make a lot of money doing things at which you could never be the best,
you’ll only build a successful company, not a great one. If you become the best
at something, you’ll never remain on top if you don’t have intrinsic passion for
what you are doing. Finally, you can be passionate all you want, but if you can’t
be the best at it or it doesn’t make economic sense, then you might have a lot of
fun, but you won’t produce great results. (Collins, page 97)
While Good to Great tells the story of successful (and not so successful) companies, consider applying the same rubric to your personal life. The intersection of the three circles is the sweet spot.
© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2011.