Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean that You Should

I have used this line so many times over my years of coaching and leading. The first examples I think of are buying yachts, jets, or another home.

But buying decisions are relatively simple. The decision to invest in expanding a business or in a new venture is where we can run into deeper, trickier challenges. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who are successful in the one area of their genius plunge recklessly into a situation, believing that their success in one arena ensures they will be successful at anything they try—or that money alone can make up for any deficits.

Now, I believe your genius can and should be used in any new opportunity and that it can be transferable into new domains. However, a new venture may need to evolve before the niche for your genius is present—or present enough to be rewarding or worthwhile—and that is where disappointment, frustration, and challenges grow roots and start to creep insidiously into your life.

We can also be attracted to a new idea or venture for reasons that really have nothing to do with the financial prospects or personal growth opportunity. These deeper, real reasons can blind us to red flags. How to check for that?
When you’re thinking about getting involved in a new venture/idea, stop and ask yourself some tough questions:
What’s driving your desire? Be brutally honest with yourself and determine whether this decision helps you avoid something bigger or more personally or emotionally difficult frightening. What do I mean? Are you considering it because it allows you to avoid things like:

  • Relationship challenges
  • Difficult conversations
  • Conflict
If we're going along just because saying no will create tension or conflict in a relationship, especially as we fix friendship with business, or we feel obligated to do something for personal reasons, we need to take special care to evaluate the true cost of the venture despite these apparently important reasons to go along.

Are you trying to be relevant? Do you feel like this venture or idea is an easy or instant way to be involved with technology, industries, or trends you’re intimidated by or uninitiated in?

Are you doing it for others? This is usually the surface thought to something deeper. Why is it you are doing this for them? How does it benefit you or help you feel a certain way about yourself or a relationship? Why is this the only way to accomplish that? Is it? Tap the brakes and go deep when you feel that you're doing something for others.

Do you believe material things will give you a feeling of success?

And there are some questions you can use to come from the other direction:

Does it allow you to play in your genius?

Whose genius and what capabilities do you need to succeed?

Can your current team do it?

Can you hire trusted people for it? Rent it? Should you?

Who do you need to trust?

I’m in the habit of asking myself these questions if for no other reason than to slow down and make the decision under my willful, rational control. One of my mentors always reminded me: ”There will be another great deal tomorrow!” A key lesson behind that great saying is that scarcity is never a reason to be reckless and learning that those FOMO (fear of missing out) feelings are too easily manipulated to be trusted. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should—and it certainly never means that I have to.

Here are some more questions to think about as you appraise a new venture:

Does it keep you on the path to realize your purpose and create the story you want to tell about yourself?

Is your ego driving your thoughts?

Is this about control? Often we make choices based on having control or being controlled. A sense of control is a key human need. Fear—from scarcity, feeling out of the loop, out of control, or experiencing external change—makes us reach for the comfort of control. And some of us have issues with being controlled that can make us act irrationally at even the slightest feeling that we’re losing control or that someone else has control over us. We can't act rationally when we're in the grip of this deep and powerful emotional trigger

What about envy or jealousy? Do we envy what others have, or do we feel threatened that someone can take what we have? These feelings can be a big contributor to the decision to jump into new things.

And for some of us, the question goes even deeper. Do we need to keep after new ventures at all? I was recently discussing this with a dear friend who has accomplished much and achieved a great amount of wealth and success. Despite all this, he was still running hard, continuing to drive, chase, demand, and pursue his goals at full speed when one of his great friends and mentors asked him, “When are you going to declare victory?” My friend considered this for a while and eventually decided he had already won. When he finally declared his victory, his life experiences took a huge leap. His relationships, opportunities, wealth, and his presence really started to grow. What I think of as I share this story with you is to remember that if I really desire happiness and harmony, "wherever you are, be there."

Truth sometimes is difficult to embrace. But avoidance is worse. Making good decisions demands honesty and accepting the truth. Slowing down and stopping the scarcity thinking, remembering that there is no end to opportunities and listing the true pros and cons of the situation is crucial to evaluating whether to get involved in a venture. But going deeper is where I have saved myself a lot of time and pain; taking a little time upfront and investing courage in exploring, finding, and admitting my deeper motivations.

Time is your most valuable resource and asset. Wealth is more about investing money to get yourself more time than it is the other way around. How will this venture command and expend time, your most valuable resource and asset? Are you committing to doing what you only like sometimes? Beyond money, what are the true costs to you? Things like focus, emotion, resentment, being around people who don’t help you grow and live the life you’re trying to live.
And finally, stop and listen to yourself. Seeing and feeling the truth but not listening to your inner voice or intuition is what leads many people down personal and professional paths that waste time, money, energy, and options, and confine us where we’d rather be free.

Reflection

  1. What are some good decisions you’ve made after slowing down and evaluating a new venture or another decision? What advice would you offer?
  2. What are some experiences you’ve had where you wish you had? If you were faced with the same decision today, what would you do?

I’m here if you want to talk through this or share your experiences.

Cheers,
Dave


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