On Being Nimble
I have one protoge’ now that I’ve mentored for over four years through four c-level positions at five start ups located in four state.. We’re probably closer than most father’s and sons as we speak, text and email back and forth all day long, every day. I know what he’s had to eat, who he’s meeting with that day, what is to be discussed and how the meetings went afterward and on and on. I know what he’s wearing on any given day and how much he paid for it. I’d estimate I spend on average 20 hours a week talking to or working on some sort of research or market study on one of his projects so suffice it to say, ours is a very intensive mentorship relationship. I’m a late baby boomer and he’s a late generation Xer so there are many things we don’t agree on. I am more of the school of hard knocks and experiential educated while he has a graduate degree from a respected university. So with that understanding of our relationship I’d like to discuss my number one catch word that I’ve been drilling into his head now for years over and over as my number one law of success and that is for him, to always stay “nimble”.
Webster’s defines “nimble” as:
Note the synonyms: Agile, Lively, Quick, Graceful, Limber, Astute, Sharp, Sherwd, Discerning, Perceptive, Clever and more. That one word encompasses a lot of general business traits in one doesn’t it? When I first told my protoge’ to remain nimble I really just meant for him to remain agile, flexible, light on his feet. able to adjust and adapt to whatever comes his way, to anticipate those curveballs and even learn to enjoy swinging and hitting them up into the cheap seats. I’ve learned from my own experience that failure awaits those who remain fearful of change, backing out of the batters box, being inflexible and thinking that a steady hand is the best way to navigate down the twisted river of running a start up and by my relating my experiences to my pupil I hope to save him a decade or two of hard, hard lessons, failure and fear that can be crippling if you’re not prepared. My protoge’ is at times one that tends to believe his own bullshit, not excessively so, but rather one with nearly as much experience as me, knows it all (or 98% of it) and I get my message through by a type of passive-aggressive teaching method summed up most eloquently in this quote from Nelson Mandella.
These days there rarely is such a thing as working for “the company” for 30 years and getting a gold watch, even if it’s your company! Staying in tune with the fludity in today’s marketplace is critical to survival so keep deeply aware of what’s happening in general and specificlly within your industry’s market segment is key to success.
For further reading on the subject I highly recommend Randy Pennington’s book Make Change Work®: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change
Until next time…