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Invisible Things are Eternal

A post inspired by The Infinite Game

There are two quotes that have had a big impact on my life to date. One I’ve known for a while and the other I came across fairly recently. Nevertheless, they both have close ties with my current read, The Infinite Game, by Simon Sinek. Here they are:

1.     “… for visible things last for a time, and the invisible things are eternal”. – 1st letter of St. Paul to the Corinthian

2.     Having a high standard and doing the invisible work, the work when no one is watching, is part of what it means to be a professional. – Jeff Bezos

Keeping those quotes in mind and in relation to my current read, I’ve asked myself why many businesses have such a short life span? And when the answer came to me, it was simple: these businesses were built by leaders who placed an unbalanced focus on near-term results, who obsessed with the visible metrics such as financial windfalls, financial metrics, beating competition, being the richest, being the most liked, having the most followers, and so on… The thing is, when we lead and build with visible and tangible metrics, it’s a win or loss approach. It’s a very short-term mindset since the motives are all wrong, not sustainable and backwards. Now, when we lead and build with a true cause (aka the invisible), there is motivation and excitement to keep playing and adding value to the world, and continuing the hard but fulfilling work that inspires us all to stay focused beyond the visible rewards and wins. This approach leads to invention, innovation and sustaining well past the founding team. And when this approach is done right, it leads to financial windfalls and strong fiscal performance. 

At BizON (especially in the beginning), attracting investors was extremely difficult because most of them have a 10 year horizon. I, on the other hand want to build a business and cause that will be around for 150 years; built for resilience and structured with a strong foundation that will last forever. Going down this avenue requires patience and constant audits to ensure your building and leading the right way, not the fast way. People need to remember the difference between “speed” and “fast” in business. Speed (in my opinion) is being decisive and taking action on uncertainty while having the willingness to experiment the right way. Fast, on the other hand, is making poor quality decisions quickly. Knowing the difference is vital when building a business because it’s a forever game, not a right now game.  I’ve always wanted to build a business people love to work for and a service that consumers love to use – and we’re on our way. At the core, our team is on a journey to empower people to be business owners so they can live on their own terms while positively impacting local economies around the world, keeping small businesses open and thriving. This is our cause, something greater than us as individuals – and this is what I define as the invisible.  

Understanding that we are part of something bigger than ourselves is a key contributing factor to creating great momentum, and with momentum comes commitment and that is when purpose is built. When you have a business and workforce built on purpose, everyone involved will be excited, dedicated, passionate and fearless and everyone will share their passions with others. This is how the cause grows. 

In the end, you have to be in love with the journey of creation, and this is different from your mission or vision. It’s deeper to the core and culture of your business and the people you inspire and attract to join the journey. As a leader, guiding principles should be in place because it is critical to develop operating principles, processes and company values so the company can operate without you. As Sinek mentions in his book, just because a company is big and has enjoyed financial success does not mean it is strong enough to last. Here are a few of my favourite, “just cause” statements:

Samsung

Make Japan Known for Quality.

Apple

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. 

Amazon

Earth’s Most Customer Centric Company. 

Microsoft

To Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Simon Sinek

To build a world in which the vast majority of people wake up inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.

My favorite example of lacking a cause is Blockbuster: one of the largest movie rental companies in North America until advancements in streaming technology gave access to movies quicker, easier and cheaper. Had Blockbuster defined their need to exist in terms related to maximizing the convenience and value of entertainment for customers (invisible) instead of opening more rental retail stores (visible), they might have been open minded to leverage technology as a tool to advance that cause and could’ve have been the owners of Netflix today (which would have led to greater success versus insolvency). 

As mentioned in Simon Sinek’s book “The Infinite Game”, in order to have a Just Cause it needs to have the following attributions:

  • For something – affirmative and optimistic
  • Inclusive – open to all those who would like to contribute
  • Service oriented – for the primary benefit of others
  • Resilient – able to endure political, technological and cultural change
  • Idealistic – big, bold and ultimately unachievable

Share your Just Cause by tweeting me here.

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