There are times when everything goes wrong with your career plans. This happens often in life. It happened to me multiple times …
We work with many partners and executives and they sometimes break contact for a few months. When they resurface the most common reason provided is that things went chaotically off track and they needed time to stop everything, including their personal development, to fix the problem and regroup before resuming with their careers.
It happens to all of us. We can all recall times when things became so bad we felt like quitting and barely made it through. I can personally recall a few such times earlier in my life. And the common theme is that most clients feel blindsided when chaos occurs. They are shocked that it happened.
We are dealing with some chaotic times in our organization. What helps us manage this is operating under the assumption that the very worst that could happen will happen. We are not hoping to avoid the problems. We have a plan for when they eventually will likely happen. And they will happen. The exact problems may not be what we expected but we expect catastrophic problems.
This is a stark departure from the way the world is usually run and the way most clients run their careers. This is especially true for the majority of our clients who assume a platinum education, employer and residency will insulate them from any possible shock.
If a client makes a $250,000 salary with bonuses in the current year, clients just assume this will be their salary plus a 2% yearly increase for the next 30 years.
Clients spend to the hilt. We have clients who have canceled a monthly premium membership subscription to buy a home. A home is a worthy investment but it is unwise to invest in anything where the margin for a severe cash crisis is the cost of a monthly premium subscription.
Most clients do not have a contingency plan for health problems. What happens if you cannot work for 6 months? What happens if you lose your job? What happens if your company’s market share collapses?
Our operating philosophy is called “be prepared to play in extra time.” It is a football (soccer) analogy. Most football teams try to win the game during regular time and give up if the game goes to extra time. We believe things will be tough and we need to have a strategy to fight it out in extra time.
We expect to be playing in extra time.
There are important insights here. If a football game is 45 mins x 2 halves. That is 90 minutes. Extra time is 15 mins x 2 halves. That means we have to be prepared to be working 33% (30 min / 90min) longer and harder than anyone else.
It means we have to be fitter. We have to have more energy reserves. We need to set aside time to practice for this.
This is a mindset. Surprises are bad when they are surprises. They are not so bad when you expected the very worst things to happen. We discuss this much more in The MasterPlan Program, which I highly recommend Insiders revisit during this time of year.
Getting derailed in your 20s and early 30s is hard, but you will recover. Getting derailed in your late 30s and 40s results in many people getting completely stalled in their careers for the rest of their lives. In large part, because they never had the mindset to expect it. They never had the thinking and plans in place to see it through. They never looked for guidance and coaching to help them navigate out of it.
We run the companies very frugally. Frugality is a centerpiece of our operating philosophy. We invest in assets. We don’t spend on unnecessary expenses. We call this having a fortress balance sheet.
Every time you face a problem in life, it is linked to money.
A failed product launch makes you apprehensive about your job since you need the salary to pay for your mortgage, kids’ education, and your college debt. A fortress balance sheet is just that. It means having the financial resources and time to wait out any surprises.
The hard part is sticking to the plan. We use the term “stay in formation.”
If you ever work with us, you will hear these three phrases very often. Staying in formation means not panicking and worrying. It means not doing crazy and irresponsible things when things go wrong. My father sold his shares when the Russian stock market collapsed a few years ago. He did not stay in formation. He should have waited it out and I wish he would have asked for my advice or at least shared his plans.
Despite all the things that are going wrong because of COVID, especially for our start-ups, our view is things are unfolding better than we expected since we expected much worse at this point and planned for much worse.
In our view, all these obstacles may even work to our advantage since they could reduce the noise in the sectors our start-ups operate in.
Staying in formation is about sticking to the strategy because it is the right thing to do. Staying in formation does not mean asking the opinions of 10 friends who are not invested in the business and don’t understand the strategy, and changing the plans to follow the most popular advice.
Staying in formation is very hard. You need to have a contrarian view. You need to trust your earlier thinking and trust your implementation. It means disagreeing with people.
It’s possible that because I grew up during the collapse of the Former Soviet Union, having contingencies and contingencies for contingencies is the norm for me. Yet, it is your life. Even if you live in the wealthiest city in the wealthiest country in the world, you need to be ready for anything.
Especially for our community. Most of you are attracted to high-profile roles. So are your peers. Everyone is chasing too few roles. Sometimes you will get them, sometimes you will not.
And it is guaranteed as you age, your firm will decide newer, fresher minds will be needed. You will be out. Even the greatest strategy partner eventually becomes a strategy partner emeritus. And that is one of the reasons we are introducing a high support coaching program for those clients who want to work with us to start purpose-driven authority-based online businesses. If you are interested, click here to be notified and email [email protected] if you are specifically interested to apply for a spot to work with us to launch or build your authority-based online business so we can have you on the radar for a few spots we will have for the upcoming cohort.
Regardless of whether you see yourself ultimately building an authority-based business or continuing your career in the corporate world, if you model your life to be ready for the worst things, they are not so bad when it happens. It starts with not blaming yourself when bad things happen to you. It starts with not assuming someone else was at fault when things go wrong. Blaming does not serve you well. You can only live life forward.
Much in life is outside of your control. Build a fortress balance sheet. Be prepared to play in extra time and always stay in formation.
P.S. I hope you will find this message helpful. Email us at [email protected] and let us know what do you struggle with the most in your career or business. I read every reply to our emails to the FIRMSconsulting community. And my team is here to support you on your journey. Please note that due to holidays there will be a delay with reply.
P.S.S. And as you are building your skills with FIRMSconsulting content, or any other resources, please also focus on building a skill set that will serve you for the rest of your life, versus only focusing on achieving a short-term goal.