About 20 years ago I flew to a castle in Scotland and broke an arrow on my throat. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Later that evening, after calming down a bit, thinking about how much I loved life, and putting things into perspective I walked over some hot coals.
I know, I know, you’d think I’d learnt to stop being stupid by then, but on the Friday night, the last night of this torturous affair, we had a party to celebrate our group stupidity. Phew, all over. Nope, karaoke. Three for three.
If you’ve never experienced the giantesque, Tony Robbins inspired coaching then you probably think I’m stupid. If you have, then you know I am! But it taught me:
There are only two mistakes on the path to being Better Than Great – not going all the way, and not getting started.
(…and sticking arrows in your neck)
I’ve been paralyzed into not getting started through fear, over-thinking, and comparison.
I’ve not gone all the way through distraction, confusion, and lack of trust in the process (and myself).
I see both these problems in many of the consultants, coaches and expert business owners I work with who are trying to build a business, attract prospects, deliver to their clients, and create assets to scale. And I have thought about sticking arrows in their necks (you know who you are). The solution is to get started and go all the way (and avoid me if I have an arrow in my hand.)
How do these problems show up? Usually in starting and not stopping, or stopping too soon. Here’s one example I see a lot, I call it the ‘write it and they will come’ delusion.
It goes like this:
” A smart consultant writes a brilliant business book,
they get it published, and then…
…they have a brilliant business book.
That’s it. ”
The output (a brilliant business book) has been achieved.
The problem is that the output (a book) was disguised as an outcome, wrapped up in an ego (we all have them), supported by an untruth.
Write a book is an action and output towards the real target – get more clients or get a seat at the table or get more leads. (These aren’t very well-documented targets I know, what table & how many would help, but for brevity I didn’t include the details, and now I have broken my brevity rule, and twittered on. But, they are certainly better than just ‘write a book’.)
Many activities we find ourselves embroiled in are at best towards intermediate outcomes, and at worst impotent outputs.
How do we get it so wrong, and what can we do instead? The problem is we have too many moving parts – we have inputs, outputs & actions, and targets & outcomes. It’s easy to mix them all up: too much input feels like progress but is actually just too much input; outputs & actions feel like progress but they might just be procrastination or fear; badly formed or thought through targets lead to weak outcomes and feel like progress but…
You can break this chaos into three stages:
1. Inputs – you select and constrain inputs (no cat videos)
2. Outputs & Actions – you create outputs and take actions
3. Targets & Outcomes – you set targets and measure outcomes
Let’s start at the end: targets & outcomes. Sometimes the desired outcome appears to be bleeding obvious: Get 10 people to join as founding members of my club.
My outputs & actions could be: Call previous prospects to invite them, write to people on my list, invite previous clients, make a video and share it, make a sales page and share it.
I have to set new targets and achieve new outcomes. It’s never-bloody-ending!
In the ‘write it and they will come’ example, write a book could be considered an intermediate outcome, you’re getting started. But you need to know what the next targets & outcomes are – and then you need to do them to go all the way.
Here’s a crappy picture I drew earlier:
You need to select the correct inputs (sticks, arrow heads and feathers) to create the right, well-formed, useful outputs (arrows). Then don’t just collect a bazillion outputs (arrows), you need to fire them (take action) at the target. Don’t move the target. Don’t have multiple targets. Don’t fire the arrows in the wrong direction. Celebrate when you get the outcome!
Sometimes, the desired target and measured outcomes are less obvious, and then they get all muddled up and squishy, they don’t ever seem to end, there’s no constraints, you are in the chaos. (Or is that just me?) That’s because not all outcomes are equal.
There are three types of non-obvious outcome:
1. Nested Outcome – like a series of Russian dolls, you need to get the innermost outcome finished before you can create the next outer layer, and then the next. You need to know the correct order of outcomes and then do outputs to lead you there. A book is the outermost layer of a nested outcome – there are inner outcomes that must be right first. This is frequently where aspiring & jobbing consultants are setting targets and measuring outcomes – they have to get great to add the next outer layer.
2. Intermediate Outcome – these are stepping stone outcomes to a bigger or more distant final outcome (death or taxes). You need to know the correct order, measure distance moved, course correct as necessary. A book is (at best) one intermediate outcome in a series of outcomes, leading to a distant or longer-term outcome. Frequently, jobbing and expert consultants have a lot of intermediate outcomes. You are already great, now you need to get better than great and stack the outcomes.
3. Identity Outcome – if you want to become someone distinct – an author or The Consultant’s Consultant for example – you will have an identity outcome to manage. The identity outcomes are tricky and vitally important. I’ll write more about these later.
So, let’s complicate it up a bit! You can probably see how you might have some nested outcomes and obvious outcomes stacked along your intermediate outcomes path, that are leading to an identity outcome.
All clear? Glad I helped.
It all goes wrong when you don’t know what type of outcome you are working towards, or even if it’s an actual outcome and not just an output. What’s the problem with thinking you’re working on one type of outcome, but really it’s a different type? The ending. We all want a happy ending, right?
If you think an output is an outcome you stop! I wrote the book – the end. If you work on a nested outcome and think it’s a final destination outcome you never get the full Russian Doll experience.
I wrote the book, but never published it.
If you work on an intermediate outcome and never move on to the next outcome you will never get the full benefit of your input, nor reap the full rewards of your clever thinking, and never scale.
I wrote the book, published it but never used it to generate business.
If you think your identity outcome is ever ‘finished’ – well that’s the fast route to stagnation and obsolescence. I’m an author, love me. Unless you sell, retire or get a ‘proper’ job – you are always working towards an outcome in your business.
What’s the solution? Get comfortable in the chaos, set constraints, capitalise on your ideas before they become obsolete by:
1. Doing & Inputting Less: reduce the input – you probably don’t need more knowledge, you need to put your knowledge into action.
2. Getting Things Done: get things finished, you don’t need to start another project, you need to finish and ship what you started.
3. Doing Things That Scale: shoot them at the target, get better at shooting, get better at adjusting and remixing, then outsource or automate to get more with less.”
This is the essence of Better Than Great.
Great is a given, you are great at what you do. Everything else is what makes the difference between aspiring, jobbing, expert or the pinnacle, becoming the go-to, consultant’s consultant
”Being better than great is a habit, not a destination.”
We talked about habits, in the Three Handstands Habit – Minimum Dose, NZX, Stack It, Perfect Practice.
Avoid the ‘write it and they will come’ delusion by knowing what type of outcome you are working on and its purpose on your path.
If you haven’t got started: If you have never written a book but have always wanted to, then join me. You’ll have your Minimum Valuable Asset book on Amazon by Christmas, you will be an author and then you can move on to the next asset you should create to get the outcome you want. I’ll make sure you don’t create a badly formed output. (https://theassetpath.com/join-the-mva-club)
If you haven’t gone all the way: If you’ve got stuck finishing your book, you’ve written a book and not used it for the greater outcome, or want to create a companion book, then join me. Your book is just an intermediate outcome, when you join the Better Than Great Club not only will we work out the job your book has to do (what type of outcome and where it fits in your business), we’ll get it done, published and working for you. I won’t leave you alone with a well-intentioned, but impotent output. (https://theassetpath.com/join-the-mva-club)
More details: The Better Than Great Club– I promise there won’t be any arrows and I certainly won’t be singing.
If you want to get started and go all the way, I’ll paraphrase a very shouty, sweary, tiny misogynist who lives in a castle in Scotland: Shoot the bloody arrows.
Ciao for now,
PS: I’m only going to invite 10 people for this first cohort, and if I don’t get 10 people who are right for the program I won’t run it. If you want to book in for a chat I’ve opened up some slots next week. Book yourself in and we’ll work out if this is right for you: https://calendly.com/debsjenkins/30-minute?month
PPS: If you are wondering what aspiring, jobbing, and expert consultants are, and where you are on the consultant’s path, take the diagnostic here: https://theassetpath.com/the-asset-path-diagnostic-for-consultants/