Weaving Small Victories Into Big Wins

The Big Red Car here and here is Austin, By God, Texas.  Going to be a lovely day though it is only in the 30’s just now but winter — well, this little spate of it that is — will be over next week when it returns to the 70’s.

Ahhhh, on Earth as it is in Texas.

So The Boss is meeting with a couple of his CEO pals — coaching clients really — and they are understandably waxing eloquent about what the year of 2013 has brought to them all.  Mixed results to be sure.  Lots of small victories and more than a few big wins.

Don’t be so tough on yourself

CEOs are understandably a bit tough on themselves.  They are typically driven persons though the stereotype that they are all Type A personalities is not nearly as universal as you might think.  They are do-ers — folks who get stuff done.  Some of them are quiet do-ers, folks who just keep crossing stuff off their checklists and quietly go about converting their Vision into reality.

What they are also is hypercritical of themselves.  [Hey, the vast majority of these CEOs have never, ever done this before.  That’s why they hired The Boss in the first place.  But don’t tell them that.]

This hyper criticism tends to minimize their short term achievements and almost begrudge them their very real progress.

The Boss likes to say:  “Everything costs twice as much and takes twice as long the first time you do anything.  Don’t take it personal.”  [SOB paid a bit of tuition in his 33 years of CEOing to learn that little jewel.  Haha, Big Red Car, STFU and tell the damn story, please.]

That is why experience — particularly “rented” experience — can be valuable.  Ally yourself with someone who has been to the rodeo once or twice before.

The Big Picture

In the Big Picture — the backward glance that starts at the point of your hypothesis taking root — most CEOs have accomplished great things.  Take just a second to consider them.

Some of these big things are just stupendous — a fintech company which has gone from crawl, walk, run to SPRINT and is growing like a weed with universal acceptance and success.  The struggle magnifies the magnitude of the success.  Ahhh, it is sweet.

An eCommerce company which has dramatically increased its sales beyond any reasonable expectation.  A “pinch me” type of performance.  Big numbers.  Under control.  The CEO and his team do not even recognize how well they are really doing as they have known nothing but this level of success.  [Five years of incredibly hard work to become an “overnight” success.  Haha.  STFU, Big Red Car.]

A company which has closed funding and whose future looks particularly bright.  The experience of seeking and successfully closing funding has been a world class experience for all involved creating a level of useful confidence.  Rookies become seasoned pros like magic.

An SaaS company CEO whose main concern these days is not to “screw it up” because thing are going so well.  It is extremely gratifying for The Boss to see up close and personal when a CEO just blossoms into a skillful operator and is hitting on all cylinders.  There is a moment — that eureka moment — in which everything just falls into place.

This list could go for a lot more, believe me.

The fleeting Moment of Perfect Balance

What you seeking is that fleeting Moment of Perfect Balance — like sailing a big sailboat heeled over on a broad reach and the sails, rigging and tiller are in perfect balance and the wind whispers through the rigging “well done, skipper”.

Or, like landing an airplane when the plane is so perfectly trimmed that it seems to just move in slow motion floating effortlessly to its rendezvous with the runway whispering:  “I’ve got this one, pilot.  On me.”

The Boss has seen some great development from all of his CEOs and sometimes it is the resolution of a potential flaw, a thorny problem confronted and solved, a pivot toward a more viable model or the hard bitten seasoning that comes from dealing with the disappointment of an uncooperative vendor.  Even in travail, there is accomplishment that at a later date will help contribute to success.

Tough lessons, future successes

The tough lessons learned today will be the foundation for future successes.

Notions like:  “Check, doublecheck, re-check EVERYTHING” take on real life.

“Crawl, walk, run.”

Sun Tzu is no longer a stranger, you know that bastard and, damn it, he was right.  “Exploit the advantage.”

“You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect” — you begin to live them.

Celebrate your successes

So, CEOs, take a moment to catalog and celebrate your successes.  Look backward with curiosity and then look forward with steely resolve.  Get ready to bite the ass off a bear in 2014.  You can do it because you are already doing it in small and big things.

Celebrate your successes whatever they may be.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.  Need a bit of CEO coaching in the New Year, give The Boss a shout:  [email protected]  The Big Red Car will make damn sure he gets back to you promptly.



3 thoughts on “Weaving Small Victories Into Big Wins

  1. “…most CEOs have accomplished great things. Take just a second to consider them.”

    I often ask the CEOs and teams I work with to recognize and act on the areas that need improvement, but don’t ignore or lose sight of their accomplishments. “Let’s make a list of accomplishments folks…” Share them with the company and other stakeholders. Once they look over the list, they feel a lot better. However, if the list is short, then we have another conversation!

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