How many examples can you think of in your life when a mistake led to one of your biggest breakthroughs, ideas, or opportunities? How many times did one unwanted outcome lead you in a direction that changed your life for the better in some way?
We can all think of great examples in our lives when mistakes led to massive growth, and yet, most human beings spend an excessive amount of time trying to avoid mistakes and do things the "right" way instead.
During an insightful podcast interview with Vinnie Enriquez, host of the Road to Growth Podcast, we explored this idea quite a bit. Vinnie asked me about the process I use to guide people in making the right investments in their business - particularly when it comes to hiring the right people. I replied that the first step is to be ready to make mistakes. Be ready to "do it wrong".
Here are a few highlights from the interview...
How do you know someone's in the right space [for coaching]? … How do you know that someone's actually ready to be coached?
Such a good question! And it's not an easy thing to know. You could get midway and realize that you know, the person's not [ready] or maybe something has shifted, where they have a lot of resistance going on. But I would say that at the very beginning, [it's important to sit] down with somebody to help them understand what a coach really is and what is it we're going to be embarking on. Ultimately, it comes down to… Are you ready to be responsible? Are you ready to see that everything in your life is something you're creating? Are you ready to go ahead and actually make the changes you need to make and do the things you need to do, whatever it takes, to get to the place where you want to go? You've got to have that motivation, that drive because the coach will hold you to that motivation, you know, and will ask you the tough questions, but you got to know you're ready, you got to know that you're willing to do what it takes. And usually, I can glean that from a conversation with somebody and sometimes we get started and there are bumps, there's resistance, there are things to get through. But as long as the person is willing to face those things, I think you're okay. And it might take longer than you think to get where you [want to] go.
Did you know that [you were] going to get an MBA, and [it would] guide [you] to consulting? Was that kind of an idea?
I think I went into [business school] thinking more [that I] wanted to start a business, that maybe if I was looking to start something, I would sort of validate that a little bit more. And also, to have something to, quote-unquote, fall back on right away... Not that I subscribe to that anymore, but I think I did then. Yeah, I mean, I kind of went in not knowing if I wanted to go into marketing or finance or consulting. I think as I started to realize how little I knew about what I wanted, I realized consulting was the right place, because I didn't want to get stuck in any one particular function in a business, and then be like sort of stuck there. One of the things that is so great, if you don't know what you want to do when you grow up is to go into consulting, because it automatically sort of bumps you into this place of, okay, this person is a problem solver. They're going to… sink or swim, you know? Basically, they're going to swim if they've done okay in the consulting world. And yeah, I think it's a good path when you're trying to feel things out. And I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. Who knows? We all grow.
A lot of people that I have on the podcast [are] in the corporate world, they're getting a steady paycheck, and they have to give that up to actually start their own business. That can be pretty difficult for some people.
Yeah, I mean, that's what I did coming out of consulting, you know, it was a good paycheck. And I went into consulting - at first, the same type of consulting - more of the straight-ahead process improvement and org development kind of stuff. I do think that spending several years in the consulting world before going into consulting in my own business definitely helped a lot. Because you're just going to be doing the same type of thing in terms of estimating and pitching and, you know, you're doing that stuff when you're at a manager level in a consulting firm. You're involved with all of that - here's what the project is, let's talk and figure out what [the client] needs. You're part of the sales process. And so, yeah, you're estimating you're pitching, you're collecting information, you're answering questions off the cuff. All that kind of stuff that is going to happen when you're an entrepreneur. So, I do think it sets you up a little bit more because you're constantly under the gun. And if anybody in corporate has experience with dealing with the consulting firms that come in… some people immediately want to throw those consultants under the bus, like, immediately. So you know, you're going to face that, as an entrepreneur, too, that you're going to get criticized, you're going to get rejected, you're going to get all kinds of stuff that is definitely a little bit more of a training ground than [being]… a corporate finance person or a corporate marketing person. Because you're part of the family there. And it's a little bit, you know, a little bit easier to fit in and be part of the gang, so to speak.
Was there any moment where you were like, maybe I made the wrong decision?
Is there any entrepreneur [who's] going to sit there and tell you that they didn't have doubts…fear, worry, and doubt? That stuff matters, you know, in terms of being successful, even if you're not an entrepreneur. Yeah, of course, there were times I was like, “Oh, no”. And then you have to let that fear sit and say, “Thank you, I know you're trying to keep me safe in this world”… and just keep going because it's what you want. That's what I was saying at the beginning about being sure you know you're ready to do whatever it takes… you’ve got to want it.
What do you do? Because I mean, some moments are [more] difficult than others, right? And sometimes it's harder to see exactly the path you're going towards. So, when you said you let it soak for a little bit, and then you just kind of go forward… is it having affirmations? Is it having a bulletin board of your plan? I know, young you didn't go with the flow and didn't have a plan. But now is it about basically having a plan just around… the low moments [to] just keep pushing through?
I wish I could say I was more of a planner. And it's one of the things I know about myself in terms of why I use Kolbe assessments. One of my natural ways of "doing" is to be a little bit more improvisational. Not surprising that being in jazz studies [in undergrad] was very comfortable for me, just [improvising] whatever came out of my mouth. But I do think a plan is important. So, it's getting to that point, right? You may have some variability but stay the course with something… Otherwise, you have no metrics, you have no idea what the heck is working or what's not working. So yes, you do have to set a direction for sure and have some things that you know, that you want to do, and that you're going to commit to. It's about commitment more than anything else, not necessarily, here are all the steps I'm going to do or I'm going to follow this exact plan to this exact timeline. And the other thing is, make sure you have people to help you. You're not going to be able to do it all. Like for example, I have somebody helping me with certain marketing things who's a great planner, and a great tester and they know about A-B testing and sending me metrics, right? So, you got to be able to hire people who will fill in for your gaps and be ready to invest. If you're not ready to invest. If you're only looking to invest time and not money in your business, it's one of the worst mindsets to go into business with. Be ready to invest the minute you know you need something.
What's the process? I mean, what's the process you use? And what's the process you guide people to do? …Finding the right people [and] the right things to invest in knowing you may be invested in the wrong thing… those can be very difficult decisions for any business. So how do you kind of go through that? How did you learn?
You’ve got to be ready to make mistakes. It can't, you can't be perfect and tied up in a nice, neat little bow. Right? That's just not how it works. If you're not ready to potentially, do it wrong, you're not ready to be an entrepreneur, because you're going to do it wrong. Be ready to do it wrong. And learn from doing it wrong. So that's, that's one thing. But when you're talking about, you know, things like, what are you going to invest in? I mean, yes, I could go all the way back to my business [school], my MBA days, and business plans are great if you're somebody who can really [create one]. And I mean I had a basic idea. It wasn't like, you know, [planning] every last detail of everything, but [I knew where I wanted] to be. And having that all mapped out knowing how much money you're going to need and how many sales you're going to make all that kind of stuff. I mean, it can be really valuable, right?
That is really, really valuable, but in terms of investing in people and hiring - one of the things that I help people with – you’ve got to get really clear on what you need somebody for. And that requires knowing yourself really well… Where are your strengths? Where are your gaps? Where's the expertise that you don't have that you need to hire somebody? … One of the first things people know they need to hire, and they get all up in a kerfuffle about, is legal. Yeah, you're going to need a lawyer. And it's expensive, right? Or like CPAs or … those things like, you know, you don't do those things… you're going to need somebody. And if you don't get somebody, now, you're [taking on] a lot of risks. And potentially, you're going to lose money on things.
But there are some things that people just assume that they can bootstrap and do on their own, wearing every single hat. And they're going to hate working in their business if that's the way they're going to go. So, we have to work on what are the things as soon as possible that you can get off your plate. And then how do we hire the right people? And I say people in plural because you can't just dump everything else that doesn't fit for you on someone else, because most likely, it's not going to fit one person. So, you have to really get clear on… your priorities. What's the first thing… that needs to go? Some people go with immediately hiring a VA to get those... $10 to $15 tasks off their plate. I sometimes prefer to go with the expertise first, like the things that you [need] the higher-end people [for] first… So it just depends on the business, the business need, you know? Where your gaps are… there's a lot of investigation to do to really do it right.
What was the biggest failure that you think you went through?
The biggest? There are so many failures, which one do I pick? I mean, it's really the truth. It's constant failure. It's also constant success... Wow, that's a really good question. I mean, I think part of it is... waiting too long to understand how important it was to get my head screwed on straight to work with other coaches, particularly on the mindset piece - not just like execution, but I hate to say the word because a lot of people don't jive with this in the business world but truly, faith, like your belief system... What you believe is gonna happen here is probably what's going to show up for you. I kind of rolled my eyes at that stuff at first, like, oh, it was all airy fairy manifesting, you know, whatever. And now I'm sold. Yes, what you focus on appears. It's true. I am here to tell you, it is true... for example in hiring, you know, looking back on past failures, like, "Oh, I just want somebody who's not going to do this and is going to not complain about this and that"... and you're focusing on all the things you don't want, you're probably going to hire the person that's going to complain, walk out the door, tell you they want this, they want that, you know, whatever it is, because you're focusing on what you don't want. So creating a new vision and continuing to uplevel a vision of what you want to create and believing in it... really believing in it [is what's important].
Check out the rest of the interview on YouTube
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Andrea MacKenzie, Founder of Lead With Harmony, is an MBA, multi-certified coach, Kolbe-Certified consultant, and leadership and team-building expert with over 20 years of combined experience in corporate roles and business consulting. Andrea enjoys working with growth-oriented business owners and executives who advocate for the advancement and well-being of the people they serve, hire, and inspire.