I remember hearing David Neagle, one of my mentors, say on a call once:
“You can’t make a cake without getting the kitchen messy. And if you try to avoid the mess, you will not be successful at it or enjoy the process.”
He was referring to business when he made this comment. And it’s oh so true. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t be organized, or have a system, or a team, or any of that. What it means is that the process of creation itself is beyond one’s ability to manage at times, and certainly beyond tidiness much of the time.
I don’t mean it’s helpful to let papers pile up and live in clutter. Or have your inbox get full to the point where you can barely find anything and Outlook can’t even load up any more (I’ve been there—don’t try it). Or to not do or have someone do your bookkeeping or any of that.
What I mean is that when you are really going for it, your business will have elements that are beyond your control. And you have to get comfortable with that. Or at least allow it to happen, even if you aren’t comfortable with it. Because if you don’t, you will stymie your business growth by trying to keep your business “in order.”
I was out walking with a friend recently, and she was sharing with me her story of having built three natural food stores in Sonoma County during the 1990s. She said that her then husband was very entrepreneurial and that that was why their business grew so much and so fast in a short period of time. She was a ballast for that, being the money person I am sure that was a good thing. And she joked that she likes things well managed.
“If it was just me, she said, I would have one store that was really together. When we opened the store in Santa Rosa we didn’t even have labels on the bulk item bins. But my former husband said we’ve got to open now, so we did. And it was fine. But it was wild.”
She also said they always ran their business in the black—they had a couple of loans to start out with, but they always paid everything on time and made a profit. Messy and profitable. I like that.
So it’s a balance because one of the reasons their business ran in the black was the willingness to open and begin taking in revenue before everything was “ready”—the risk of that. And also her watching the numbers carefully, projecting, and planning—the steadiness of that.
Yesterday we ran a livestream and we had some bloopers. The internal bloopers were unfortunate but not so awful. They mostly had to do with interfacing livestream technology and Skype. We had a few moments when we had to be transparent about things not working – and I commented: “we are in imperfect action.” This was particularly ironic because I was teaching about the importance of taking imperfect action!
We also had some external issues with some people not being able to view the broadcast. Now that is more of a bummer, right? Here at Temple Ostara the broadcast was coming in fine – but some people had a lot of buffering issues, and freezing up of the screen. Typically this is a local broadband issue – you have to have enough download speed to be able to watch streaming video like this. But even my tech assistant who has tons of download speed was having issues with the broadcast. We are investigating with Livestream.com to see if they can figure out what happened.
I’m sharing this with you because in this high tech world, things like this can and do happen. It can be messy and feel out of control. And in some ways it is out of control. I’ve had to develop my capacity to work with that reality – and believe me my inner control freak has had to learn to stretch a lot.
The thing I have to keep in mind is this is not the important part. The important part is the people who I’m connecting with, what they want and need, what I’m providing, and what we can create together. It would be so easy to allow something like this to stop me, to throw me off, to give me every reason to give in and give up. And that there’s always another day.
Businesses don’t fail – people either give up or don’t ever get started. While this may not be true 100% of the time, it’s often the case. To get started, and to keep going, you have to understand that mess comes with the territory and it’s a whole lot easier if you embrace imperfect action.
And we’re going to do the livestream again – because that’s what you do when something like this happens. You do it again. You can register above – as my guest!