Through the entrepreneurial lens of my experience, I’ve developed an interesting theory: people are more inclined to move when the pain of change is less than the pain to stay the same. More people seem to be motivated by wanting to avoid pain than actually capturing pleasure. By inclination, I approach innovation (and subsequent success) with an entrepreneurial mindset, which sometimes makes me sound like a character from The Matrix. The truth is, effective inventors (don’t forget iterators and interrupters) create systems to make things easier and faster, while staying open to changing those systems when needed. When it comes to the evolution of your organization, how do you define success?
Active vs. Passive Success
“Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.” – Agent Smith, The Matrix.
Is Agent Smith right? Do you think people define reality through suffering and misery? Many people do; they feel helpless to control their own destiny, blame setbacks on others and complain without taking action to change their circumstances.
Truly successful entrepreneurial leaders view the state of the world as evolving, not fixed. In this opposite mindset than the one we just described, people believe they have the power to write their own story by altering their surroundings. Constantly seeking and giving themselves constructive feedback, they exist in a gradual, consistent state of change. They believe that every day is an opportunity to embark on a new adventure and allow setbacks, bad situations and painful jobs to spark creativity and propel them forward.
A common defeatist mentality refers to smaller (perhaps more niche) organizations that are suddenly expected to compete with the powerful offering and marketing spend of larger companies in the same category. Understandably, when business owners start to see the migration of customers to the “big guys,” they begin to feel that there’s just nothing they can do. Yet, this is where the innate qualities of an entrepreneur become the secret weapon of innovation. While it may seem counterintuitive to people who avoid “active” success, growing your business actually becomes easier when you build your own systems. Building systems to make life easier grants your organization the freedom to do more of what you want to do, instead of what you have to do.
I’m constantly inspired by business leaders that approach each day as an opportunity to make something a little easier. Our greatest innovation was born of the willingness to build roads where none exist and the fundamental belief that we have the power to create our own success.