Summer is a classic time to take time out of your ‘everyday’ and ask — where am I headed? Do I know? Do I have any idea? And if so, is it a good destination?
So, take a moment whilst lying somewhere hot and trying to cool off and play this little game:
Sort, in order of your highest to lowest priorities — these five things:
i.) Money (ie how much)
ii.) Reputation (ie. what people say about you, the applause at the end of a speech, your social media ‘likes’)
iii.) Power (ie. how many people’s lives do you directly affect — say as a CEO, Head Teacher, Politician)
iv.) Status (ie. the suit you wear, the bag you carry, the car you drive or perhaps the awards and medals you accumulate)
v.) Meaning (ie. the difference you are making in the world, to the people around you to the environment etc…)
Then, ask a friend or associate to choose your list of priorities for you and then compare and contrast!
Look at the things you put top — Money, Power, Meaning, Status, Reputation? Does your career path or startup journey place that thing above all others?
Then look at what you put bottom — Money, Power, Meaning, Status, Reputation? It is highly likely that you miscommunicate with people who treat your lowest priority as their highest priority.
If you work with other people, you may be missing what really motivates them — because, we all, naturally, think everyone should be like ourselves, when they clearly are not.
If you are a startup entrepreneur building value products and services that people want to buy — have you understood the real motivation of your clients? For instance, how would you list the priorities for your perfect client or customer?
Let me give you an example — my lowest priority is Status — I have never been able to get my head round the fact that some people covet cars that cost $zillions or handbags priced in $millions when there are fabulously engineered and designed cars and handbags for a fraction of the price. However, my struggle to understand the motivation here is because Status is my lowest priority but for many others it is top or near the top.
This means I need to pay particular attention to Status as a motivator for people in organisations or clients — because, otherwise, I am likely to miss opportunities to have an impact.
Equally, take Power, the desire for Power explains why extremely wealthy (Money) business people leave exceptionally well paid roles for (relatively) poorly paid public service. Although, in some cases, the switch can be driven by a desire or quest for greater Meaning.
So, play with your list of priorities — ask others — ask your colleagues and ask you customers and clients.
Look for the surprises and insights.
Then check in, where am I going with my career or startup?
Maybe an adjustment is due or maybe its time for a full scale pivot.
Either way, the summer is a great time to reflect on your path as you stare at the mountains, the forest or the sea for a short while, and, Autumn is a great time to take new invigorated action.
I’m Neil Lewis and I coach startup / scaleup entrepreneurs and innovation executives. Find out more about how we empower founders and executives here.