I can still remember the session where one of my mentors said to me, “There should be an 11th commandment and if there were, it would be:
“Thou shalt not kid thyself”
… He explained that so many people are so blinded by their hopes and visions for the future that they cannot, or choose not, to see the harsh reality. He added that in his experience many people seem to subconsciously (and often consciously) ignore the facts when they are chasing a dream or a goal, such is their desire to win.
I have blogged before about the need to remain positive and focussed on a goal and the fact that every successful journey is interweaved with failure…. And I have often heard the quote that states:
If the dream is big enough the facts don’t count
….to some extent I agree, in that many things seemed impossible until someone made it possible – examples would include:
– The 4 minute mile… until Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3mins 54.4seconds, scientists and doctors said that it was simply not possible and that the human heart would explode and the lungs could not cope if a human ran that fast for that distance… since then its been achieved many times and the current record stands at, 17seconds faster, at 3.43.13
– Your entire music collection in your pocket, impossible until we had the Ipod… now it’s expected and taken for granted.
– Space travel
….and I am very confident in our lifetime we will see many more scientific breakthroughs that change and challenge that ‘facts’ as we know them, or believe them to be true.
But, back to the 11th commandment.
One of the biggest, in fact ‘the’ biggest reason for businesses failing is a lack of cash… often caused by uncontrolled costs or a lack of sales. But sometimes too many sales can crash a business if the cash flow isn’t there to support fast growth…
As a founder, CEO or investor I wouldn’t say that I have ever ‘enjoyed’ the financial/accounting side of business, and I have found myself at odds with Chief Financial Officers, Accountants & Financial Director’s on occasion because I thought that they were being ‘negative’ or overly cautious…..
….but the reality is that it is their responsibility/accountability to act on facts and make predictions/forecasts based on the realities of the market or the business performance to date. Whilst I may have often been ‘at odds’ with CFO’s, Accountants and FD’s, I also always knew that they were probably the most important consultant or advisor that I had in any business because ‘the facts don’t lie’ when it comes to finance, Ignore the facts at your peril.
Another huge problem, and an area where people often ‘kid themselves’ is in hiring or keeping the wrong people in roles that they are not right for….
….when it comes to people I am a great believer in the Stephen Covey adage:
“The enemy of the Best, is the Good”
…. and yet too many businesses settle for less than good people when trying to build a business.
I sometimes ask business leaders/directors if they had to ‘let 10% of their people go or face bankruptcy’ who would they let go. Usually in the time it takes to digest the question they can often picture the poor performing teams/people. Jack Welch Ex CEO of GE, used to say that we know who the anchors are in the business, but we seldom have the courage to make the tough decisions, sometimes thereby sealing the fate of 100% of the business because of our weakness in addressing the problems.
The other key area is poor quality products/services or outdated products/services…
….the best place to find out the issues that need addressing is from your customers, lapsed customers (who were customers but no longer use you) and the customers of your competitors. Having built him! Research & Consulting with my business partner Tom Fender in UK, USA, Australia & New Zealand and having had clients in those countries and throughout Europe I know that there is a huge amount of market and customer data/insight available but often un/under-exploited. him! worked to understand existing and changing customer needs & trends.
Sadly, when things do go wrong and businesses or individuals fail, they often say, with the benefit of hindsight that they knew things weren’t right, or that the signs were there but they didn’t act on them.
Failure is a part of every successful journey, but to have all the signs and not act on them isn’t just failure, it’s irresponsible and foolish…
So now, as I look back on the last few decades of my journey I realise that the 11th Commandment is/was one of the best lessons that I received and remember it often.
The 11th Commandment – Thou shalt not kid Thyself
“Seek the truth or hide your head in the sand. Both require digging.”
– Andrew Nolan
Note: My Blogs are all based on my personal beliefs, perspectives and experience. They are never written with any intent to offend or criticise individuals, but with the intent to stimulate thought, discussion and consideration of circumstances that may be helpful in addressing and growing businesses, and/or for personal development.