01 Nov November 1, 2019 – Five Pillars of Freedom Curt Mercadante and High Velocity Innovation Katherine Radeka
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Curt Mercadante – Gallup-Certified Strengths Trainer – Speaker – Disruptive Entrepreneur – Author of Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle: How to Escape Your Comfort Zone of Misery – Read interview highlights here
A lot of people like to hide behind the website or the logo. Why? Because it’s more comfortable than picking up the phone and calling clients. When you mix inbound with outbound, and pair the two, that’s when you’re on fire.
Curt Mercadante is an international speaker, trainer, disruptive entrepreneur, and author of The Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle, a guide for discovering your superpowers and designing a life of true freedom and fulfillment. His mission is to save the world by helping people fight for lives of freedom and fulfillment. Curt’s speeches and training empowers individuals to live their Freedom Lifestyle, and he also hosts the popular Freedom Club Podcast. Curt left his seven-figure PR / advertsing business overnight to pursue his passion as a speaker and coach on the topics of strengths-based development, productivity, entrepreneurial freedom, and marketing/storytelling. Recently named named one of the 30 LinkedIn Influencers Who Built a Powerhouse Personal Brand, Curt is a powerful, dynamic public speaker whose motivational videos drew more than 2.5 million organic video last year alone.
Innovation is knowledge work. It’s building the knowledge needed to make decisions. It expands to fill the available time. If you gave me no deadline at all, I may never come back.
Katherine Radeka is the founder and executive director of the Rapid Learning Cycles Institute, and supports a growing global community of Rapid Learning Cycles Certified™ Professionals who are actively using the framework to get their best ideas to market faster. She has worked with companies on every continent except Antarctica, and in industries from aerospace to medical devices and pharmaceuticals to consumer electronics and alternative energy. In 2015, Katherine published the 1st edition of The Shortest Distance Between You and Your New Product. In 2012, she published the Shingo Research Award winning book based upon her research into Lean methods for product development.
Highlights from Katherine’s Interview
I think that creativity is an important skill; I use the word skill because I think people are creative. Even people that don’t often think of themselves as creative, when you really probe them about what they do, you often find they’re creative in ways that they didn’t expect. I think creativity is a skill that can be learned. That’s an important part of innovation. Because the way that I define innovation is basically doing something that has never been done before in order to meet some compelling need in a new way. And so, innovation is something that happens in a startup or in an R&D organization. And if you talk to people about innovation, you often find there are areas of their lives where they are very innovative. For example, if you are familiar with the community of things like the maker community, a lot of them consider themselves hobbyists, but there’s a tremendous amount of innovation happening in that space. That’s how I relate the words. Creativity is a skill that’s important for innovation.
I think it’s impossible to be an entrepreneur without being creative. The entrepreneurial drive is essentially a creative drive to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before. Even if your business is something everyday, like an electrician business or something like that, you’re still bringing something into being that’s never been before. That creative side of entrepreneurship is one of the things that causes many of us to get into entrepreneurship. It was one of the drivers for me, for going out on my own when I left my corporate job.
Then the innovation piece is saying, “I’m a new company. What am I offering to the world that’s different? What’s unique about me? What’s new about what I’m doing?” That’s where a lot of the innovation comes in saying, “Maybe I am running a very basic business. Well, what am I doing that’s different? What am I doing that’s new? How am I serving my customers better than my competitors?” That provides even the smallest companies opportunities to be innovative.
One of the myths about innovation is that innovation requires you to do something completely new that the world has never seen before in any form. And the reality is that if you look at some of the things that we consider to be iconic innovations, like the Tesla electric vehicles or the original iPhone, they represent taking core ideas from different places and putting them together in new ways. The Tesla, for example, is a lot about how we drive mechanical systems with electricity, how we store that electricity, how we charge that. And then they put it into an electric vehicle, and then using mass production techniques to make that electric vehicle affordable. That is innovation. You could look at it and see that those individual pieces were not so creative. But the creative idea of putting it together and wrapping a new business model around it is the creative element.
Getting back to your appliance example, there are still lots of opportunities. The fact that the person has the energy and drive to go out on their own to find ways to serve clients is innovative. They might not look at that and say, “Oh, wow, that’s really creative!” But making sure I met my customer at seven o’clock at night, that’s not so much the source of innovation. The source of innovation is, “Ok, I have a customer. I have customers who need me to work outside of hours, how can I can do that?” That’s the thing that I keep coming back to with my own clients. They often think they’re not doing anything truly innovative unless they’re doing something that’s so out there, and pushing boundaries that have never been pushed before by anybody.
The reality is that the most creative products that I’ve personally encountered have often been the ones where they’ve taken information or an idea for one domain and moved it into a different one, just as you have a podcast. Podcasts have been around for a while, but now you’ve got one that’s focused on startups, you call it School for Startups, and because you call it School for Startups, you’re approaching it in a particular way. That is taking ideas from other places and applying it to this medium, and that’s the kind of innovation that often leads to really great, long, sustainable businesses that are really difficult for others to copy.
When we’re starting with something new, we’re starting with the raw material for a product, which is all of the stuff that is not going into chicken nuggets. We’re using that as our starting point, and then we’re going to do some ideation around what could we do with that? Could we turn it into a specialty product? Who would we sell it to? What would they use it for?
When brainstorming very out there ideas, what we’ll get out of that is a list of things that then need to be filtered. I tell my clients, “I’m gonna help you get your best ideas to market faster.” That doesn’t mean that every idea is going to get to market, it means they’re gonna get their best ideas to market. We have this list of ideas, and then we have to go through a screening process in order to find out which of those ideas are going to make it. We want those to be fast. We want to do some very targeted learning about each of those ideas in order to find out how viable they are.
At this stage, that’s often looking at how they might meet a customer need, how they might meet a customer need that they didn’t know that they have. For example, if we can find a way to make these things taste delicious, then we might have invented a new snack category that didn’t exist before. But we’re going to need to do some basic understanding of customer needs in order to identify whether any of these ideas have an opportunity. Once we’ve decided which one we’re going to produce, like a new snack product, gizzard snacks, based on these raw materials, then we’re going to look at the major decisions that we have to make in producing this, these are going to be the kinds of decisions that are difficult to unmake later. For example, which kind of snack is it? Are we competing against a jerky product? Are we competing against a corn chip product? Where exactly is this? What texture is it going to have? What basic sensory profile is it going to have? Those things are difficult to change later, because they have a lot to do with positioning and branding and what you put on the shelf and how you position it to your first customers, the resellers who will be putting it out on their floor.
Once we’ve identified those decisions, then we understand when we need to make those decisions, which is often later than we think we need to make those decisions. Then we need to learn to make those decisions with confidence. If we’re trying to figure out which snack category we’re going to be in, that’s a fairly early decision, because it determines our manufacturing process and our packaging and a lot of other things about it. But things like which specific retailers we’re going to approach first might be a fairly late decision. Once we’ve already done things like sampling at food markets, farmers markets and things to demonstrate we’ve got a good product, then we’ve been able to figure out this is the right retailer for this, whether it’s a mom and pop convenience store that might be open to something new, or going to do farmers markets or something. And we focus in on pulling learning forward for those early decisions, trying to learn as much as we can about the different categories of products, trying to make some different prototypes of different products and testing those to begin to enable us to make that decision, so that the rest of our decisions can be made on time.
One of the things that I especially think entrepreneurs can get stuck on is that there isn’t a natural pull for a lot of what we do. Because we’re putting things out into the market that have never been done before, and nobody knows who we are, we don’t have customers that are pulling this from us. For that reason, I think it’s important for these cycles of learning to be very fast. We call it rapid learning cycles. By rapid, we mean two weeks, or at the most, for a major decision, four weeks, in order to begin to learn very rapidly, we need to make these decisions with confidence, but recognize that if we want to get a product out, we need to be making these decisions. And we need to put a timeline together of when these decisions need to be made. And we need to hold ourselves accountable for meeting that timeline. That is how entrepreneurs turn an idea into something that actually shows up on a consumer shelf while the entrepreneur still has time, money and energy to get it done.
One of the key things that people often don’t understand about innovation is that it is primarily knowledge work; it’s building the knowledge that you need to make good decisions. That knowledge work expands to fill the available time. If you gave me two weeks to help you understand these chicken users, I’m going to look at it for two weeks and I’m going to come back with something. If you give me two months, I’m going to take two months. If you give me six months, I’m going to take six months. And if you give me no deadline at all, I may never come back, or it will take me a very long time. That’s not what we want, right? You want your ideas out in the world, right? We want to see what we’ve created, go out there and be meeting customer needs and making money.
For that reason, it’s helpful to place what we call time boxes around things. The time box is basically going out to learn everything I can learn about the chicken gizzard market in four weeks, and then in four weeks, I’m going to come back and share what I’ve learned with the rest of my team. Then we’re going to use that knowledge to make some decisions. That will limit me in scope to the kind of research that is appropriate. What I mean by that is, if this is the first time we’ve looked at it, I probably want to just do a very rapid survey of the market to understand the landscape, and then decide if this is worth doing at all. As I get further into it, and I’m trying to figure out exactly what product and exactly what category, I’m getting into a deeper level of analysis, but I still don’t need the exceptionally deep analysis that we’re going to need to figure out what our channel strategy is going to be or our reseller strategy is going to be, and so on. We want to keep learning, especially in the early phases, when we’re still figuring out what exactly our product is, what we’re building this business around.
We want to keep those cycles very short and fast. What that does is, it creates pull, because what Whirlpool and Toyota and Kerrigan and some of the other clients that I have naturally have as a result of the fact that they’re existing businesses in the consumer market, that an entrepreneur doing something for the first time does not have, is pull from the market. They have annual cycles when they typically have new products in the market. And they tie their innovation processes—or at least my clients tie their innovation processes—around those natural cycles. That way, when the customer is ready for a new product, they have a new product to show that customer.
An entrepreneur doesn’t naturally have that. I worked with a company called in Australia, they make a product that is a basically a GPS collar for cattle. So he pushes the GPS collars on all his cattle, sends them out onto the range where they’re going to be grazing, and is gathering a lot of information about each head of cattle that is going to help them do a better job of managing the herd. Now that’s a product that’s never been done before. Right now the ranchers manage their cattle basically by driving around and pickup trucks and looking at them and seeing what they’re doing and maybe walking around among them, kind of checking on them. So with something like that there’s no natural market pull. Ranchers see how this could really benefit them, see that it could help them do things like eliminate all of their physical fencing, but there’s no natural pull for it. So what a company like Agriscience has to do is put themselves on a very strict timeline of spending two weeks learning about this, spending four weeks learning about this. Then we’ve got these decision points that we need to make, and we’re going to make these decisions at these specific points in time. That’s to help generate pull, to make sure that these things that would otherwise take up an infinite amount of time actually get closed in a reasonable amount of time, before a company like a startup like Agriscience runs out of investor money.
One of the innovations in my own business is that I moved away from pure consulting and started doing public workshops now, and offering certification. I have to admit that we leveraged very heavily from the Project Management Institute and from various groups when we thought through a certification process, but we’re offering it for people that are working on hardware products, where the methods that those companies teach are not the best methods to use. And I think that kind of thing is exactly what I mean when I talk about the kind of innovation that takes an idea or a concept from one place and moves it into a new sphere which allows a different audience or a different market to benefit from those ideas.
One of the things that I do when I’m experiencing writer’s block is I try to get outside because that really helps. I’m fortunate to live in a part of the country where that’s very easy. We have the Columbia River Gorge just about 10 minutes from my house. And doing things like that to recharge your batteries is so important as entrepreneurs, because if you don’t, if you’re not doing that kind of self care stuff, then the well does run dry. The other thing that is important, and this is true for any group that’s starting out on something new, is that there’s always a little bit of needing to understand and internalize and digest what’s going on before the new ideas are ready to come out. When I launch a new book, I will start by writing an outline, and then we’ll kind of freak out a little bit, and so I’ll have a few weeks when I’m spending a lot of time on a trail or a lot of time just sitting by the river. That’s allowing the idea of what I’m about to do sink in and materialize after I charge up my batteries, so that I can be creative. Doing that allows your brain to rest and focus on something that’s very basic like that. I get a lot of really good ideas when I’m washing dishes. For me, that’s my time. I have a kitchen window overlooking my garden, and that’s often a time when I’ll have new ideas come up, and it’s the same thing. It’s the brain getting a chance to not focus on it, and then by not focusing on it, it relaxes.
The easiest way to get in touch or get my book is to go to HighVelocityInnovation.com. You can find the book High Velocity Innovation at any bookseller, places Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. The best way to find out about my work is to buy one of my books.
Highlights from Curt’s Interview
A lot of people come to me and say, “Oh, freedom lifestyle. Are you going to tell me to sell everything and move to the mountains, be a monk?” I say, “Not necessarily. Maybe if that fits you.” I’m a free market capitalist kind of guy. That doesn’t fit me. But you don’t have to sell your job. You don’t have to quit. Hell, you don’t even have to leave your nine-to-five. I know this is the School for Startups Radio, but a lot of people quit their job. They go and they start their business. They think it’s about freedom, and four or five years in—like I did—they feel like they’ve built a prison instead of a business.
There’s a lot of what I like to call hustle and grind pornographers out there, sleep when you’re dead, fit eight hours of work into a four hour workday. I did an online AMA and 10X factory. It’s an online mastermind for startups. I had one guy admit, and a lot of people were nodding their heads, “My dad told me a real man works eight to nine hours each day.” We had a conversation, and it turned out he does about two to three hours of outcomes focused working each day.
I said, “Why the hell do you spend the rest of your day in there?”
“Well,” he said, “I feel guilty if I’m not there. My dad said a real man is supposed to work eight hours.” And he said, “Well, Kurt, do you just waste away when you don’t work the rest of the day?”
And I said, “No, I’m never busy. Because busy is a choice.” A lot of people wear busy as a badge of honor, but my days are absolutely jam packed full with experiences that fulfill me. That doesn’t just mean work. It means self care. And it means spending time with my wife and four children.
It was reinventing myself, reassessing, and redefining what success meant. A lot of us bounce through life like a pinball from objective to objective, because we have no clear vision where we want to go. You can’t plan to your vision, you have to define your vision and work backwards. A lot of people will argue with me and say, “My vision in my 20s was making partner and making $100,000, and in my vision of my 39—” No, that’s an objective. Somewhere along the line, you hit a wall, and if you don’t reverse engineer…
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, I do some mastermind, and a lot of them keep throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. And they’re grinding, they’re grinding, they’re grinding because they read from, you know, pick your celebrity sales guru, pick your celebrity entrepreneurship guru. And it’s all about people posting pictures. “I’m at work and I’m sleeping under my desk,” and you’re making no money. You’re running in quicksand, you wear that as a badge of honor. You’re wondering, “What the hell am I doing? This was supposed to be about freedom! What’s entrepreneurship supposed to be about?” I hit that wall when I was making seven figures. I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now; I was on a cocktail of prescription drugs, having anxiety attacks, yet I felt guilty because I was told that’s what you were supposed to do. So I said, screw it. I fired half my clients, and still made more money. Then my dad died. I had built some freedom time wise; I was making money. My dad died. He had worked on the space program, designed fighter jets, did all these cool things. At his wake, not one person mentioned anything my dad did. He was an entrepreneur later in life. They all mentioned what he did with his family as a husband, father, and volunteer for church work. It was like someone dumped a bucket of cold water over my head, and I said, “What the hell am I doing?” Around that time, I had started coaching as a side hustle. And when I coached I realized I really love doing that, and I want to make sure others don’t make the same mistake I did, because I can never have those years back. I learned from them, but you don’t have to go through all that crap.
I’m not making fun of entrepreneurship gurus inasmuch as I understand what they say. Let’s take Gary Vee. I can’t decide what he wants. Either be patient or you don’t have enough time in this life. Depending on the podcast, he does either sleep when you’re dead or work smarter. Listen, you can work hard while you’re working smart. My book is Five Pillars of the Freedom Lifestyle. The fourth pillar is becoming radically outcomes focused.
To a lot of folks, a lot of entrepreneurs, I say, “What did you achieve today?”
“Oh, I was so productive! I got 25 things on my to-do list.”
I said, “No. What did you achieve?”
“I was productive. I got into the office at four.”
None of that is actual productivity. None of that actually signals what you achieve. You’re clogging your day with inputs. Instead of becoming radically outcomes focused, where you know your vision, and you reverse engineer it so that every year, every month, every week, every day, you know the three—just three—outcomes you need to achieve to win the day.
A lot of people don’t feel good when they get stuff done. They grind and then they maybe get 15 things done and they go home at the end of the day and they feel like they’re stuck in quicksand. “I got all this stuff done.” But what did you do to win the day? “Well, I don’t know. I got stuff done.” It’s about winning the day. I have to fill 250 seats at my Freedom Club Festival on November 8, right? I didn’t start the week before. I didn’t start two days before. I started a year before. I have 365 days to get one outcome done.
One of the biggest things entrepreneurs don’t do is delegate, outsource, hire. They say, “I don’t have enough money to do that.” Really, you don’t have enough money not to do it. Because the fact of the matter is, if it takes you two hours to do something that’s not in your wheelhouse— The first pillar the freedom lifestyle is superpowers. I’m a Gallup Strengths Coach. We know when you work in your strength zone, you’re more profitable, you’re more efficient, things flow instead of grind, right? You hire someone to do those things that take them a half hour. Let’s say you have a $250 an hour rate. You just made money by hiring that person.
There’s a number of things we can do but to use your example, you’ve written books, I’ve written books. I had a number of outcomes I had to do write that book. I started last January, it was just published a week ago. It’s not like I jumped into it and said, “Wow, I’ve got 500 things I have to do today.” If you’re smart, and you reverse engineer it all the way to the beginning of the year, there’s one outcome today, one outcome tomorrow, and you don’t try to shove it all in at the last minute.
The 4-Hour Workweek made a huge impact in my life. I think a lot of people misconstrue it as you could literally work four hours. I set a goal of working 12 to 14 hours a week. I set that back when I had my agency, and I pushed it over seven figures. It forced me to focus on the things that actually make sense, those non-negotiables. Joe Pici, Global Gurus ranked him the number three sales trainer in the world. He packs in sales trainings every day. He said he made the most money when his wife, who was his business partner, was knocked out with mono. It forced him to weed away all the BS and focus on the one or two things that actually matter. I’ve always had my most profitable months when I go on vacation. Why? Because I have one hour a day to actually focus on the non-negotiables in my day. I weed away all the BS because, if I have a computer in front of me, I will use it. I’ll waste three hours spinning my wheels.
Real productivity—we’ve talked about productivity somewhere along the line. Humans invented the lever so that 500 villagers didn’t have to come out and lift the boulder. There’s some people today who still wear that as a badge of honor. You see them on Facebook, “Don’t contact me this week. I won’t be returning calls. I’m so busy.” It’s martyr syndrome. We invented the lever. That’s productivity. The 500 villagers coming out is not productivity.
It’s the Pareto principle. Tim Ferriss talks about that the 80/20 rule, right? vYou have to identify the 80% of the inputs that aren’t getting you in the straightest, shortest, simplest line to your outcomes. Maybe a number of the number of those you outsource, you delegate. You hire the bookkeeper, you hire the designer, you do these things. And so you’re not the one sitting guy. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who play with WordPress. They’re not developers, you hire that out, or some of them. You waited ’til the last minute. It doesn’t have to be done today. It could be done next Thursday, next Wednesday, next Friday. But you identify the straightest, shortest, simplest line to your outcomes, and you reverse engineer that to right now.
Whether you outsource building your website depends on what your outcomes are. I can’t define those for every single person. But I have some people right now in my masterminds called the Freedom Club Accelerator, and they’re worried about their logo and their website. I had 10 clients before I had a website or logo. You have to focus on those specific things. A lot of people like to hide behind the website and the logo. Why? Because it’s more comfortable for them than picking up the phone and calling clients.
I have a sales team, and it’s amazing the amount of folks who come in, and on a closer look it’s like they’ve got Glengarry Glen Ross in their head. They never pick up the phone, they send three emails, then say, “Well, I’m just going to give up.” More and more people do that. The more impact you have, when you pick up the phone, you call someone and they’re like, “Wow, someone’s actually calling me. I’m not used to that.” What’s that all about? And when you mix inbound, which I do a lot of and you’re doing right now with this podcast, when you mix it with outbound, and you pair those two together, that’s when you’re on fire.
I’m a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and if people are unfamiliar with the Strengths Finder program, about 40 years ago, a psychologist named Donald Clifton ended up working with Gallup, and he looked at the big book of mental disorders. It was sitting on his desk, and it was about what’s wrong with people. What’s everyone’s weaknesses? Let’s attack those. Let’s try and fix those. He asked what would happen if we flipped the script a little bit. He asked, what’s right with people? We start there.
Forty, fifty years later, now they know that 90% of Fortune 500 companies have their employees take the assessment. Millions of small business owners, individuals, take this assessment. And we know that the best route to development is amplifying your strengths, getting in that zone with those naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. I tell people, I had a friend who was a former semi-pro baseball player, and he didn’t understand this. And a lot of people say, “I’m playing to my strengths,” and really they’re playing to their skills.
And I said, “Chris, when you were baseball player, were you a right-handed hitter or a left-handed hitter?”
He said, “I hit from the right-hand side of the plate.”
I said, “What if at the beginning of the season, your manager came up to you and said, “Hey, Chris, we’re going to try something new this year. You’re going to hit from the left-hand side of the plate.”
And he said, “Well, I’d suck. My batting average would be horrible. I’d hate it. I’d quit. I’d get benched. I’d probably leave the team.”
I said, “Right. Whether or not you can hit a baseball is a skill. Your strength is whether you’re right-handed or left-handed. You pair that skill and you invest in it and pair it with your natural talent. It turns into a strength, you amplify that strength on a regular basis. You hit the batting cages, you show up, you have a love for the game, your experiences. You amplify those every day, and then you’re working in your superpowers, and you don’t ignore your weaknesses.”
You know, Larry Bird, described himself as a slow white guy who couldn’t jump. No matter how much he worked out, he wasn’t going to jump as high as Dominique Wilkins or Michael Jordan, but he knew he would get in shape. He’d be as fast as he could. But he could shoot the heck out of the ball. He could pass the heck out of it. He amplified what he was great at. He became the best Larry Bird. He could be an NBA Hall of Famer, one of the best of all time.
Vision, the second pillar, we already talked about a little bit. It’s having that clear vision for your life. If you’re an entrepreneur, your business should be an extension of who you are as a person. That vision pairs with your purpose for living, for being here. Your purpose, for your business, for your startup, pairs with the impact you want to make on the world.
Making money has to do with objectives and outcomes, not vision. I have to make money. Listen, I love money. For 17 years, my wife and I were engaged on the fake Grand Canal at the Venetian in Las Vegas. We were engaged, and then 17 years later, we got married a year later. After we got engaged we said we’re going next year. I made seven figures and I never had enough money. We thought we’d got to make that next $10,000, that next $15,000 before we got married. Then we had four kids, and said, “We can’t go now.” I shut down my agency; obviously, my revenue took a hit. It’s on its way back up now that I’m doing what I love.
We always said we didn’t have enough money to go and travel. I shut down my agency right then, and we went for five and a half weeks to Europe. My point is that money is an outcome to purchase the experiences that fulfill you. You talked about woodworking. You have to make X amount of dollars to do woodworking. Making money. How do you do that? You do X amount of podcasts. This is why we reverse engineer our vision when you talk about your purpose. You do things along the way. Those are outcomes. Those are objectives.
I have to write my book. My purpose is not my book. Writing the book is an outcome to become a thought leader, and maybe make some money along the way. Now that I have a book, I can charge my $15,000, $20,000 for speaking. That allows me to reach an audience and help them be more free and fulfilled. And you know what? When I make that $15,000 or $20,000, I travel the world with my family. Those are outcomes, which are pillar number four.
The third pillar is alignment. So the term work-life balance is BS, it’s mythical. There’s work a lot of people separate by saying work-life balance. Do you think there’s work over here and life over there? No, we’re all living human beings. You can’t separate the two. There’s just life. The key to fulfillment is aligning your family, yourself, and your work in a way that works for you.
I have people take a piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle, it’s a pizza pie. The pizza is going to have three slices. You draw those three slices, one slice for work, one for family, and one for self, but the size of each slice is in direct proportion to the amount of time, mindshare, worry, etc, that you spend on each slice. If you’re in the office 50 hours, but you’re worrying about it all day on Saturday, it’s still work. You draw those slices, then right over that pizza pie, you redraw them the way you want your life to be. I’ve never seen it where the self slice needs to be smaller. And I’ve never seen it where the work slice needs to be bigger. I’ve seen it where family actually needs to be a little smaller; working moms sometimes put too much into their family and not enough into self-care. You look at those areas that are out of alignment, and then you use that as a goal. This is what I want to do to get my life in better alignment, instead of balance.
Number four is outcomes. I feel like we’ve talked about that. Then the fifth pillar, flow. Flow is not about grinding. It’s about flow. It’s the cumulative effect of the first four pillars. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote the book Flow in the 1980s or 1990s. He talked about the definition of flow is having those short term outcomes every day that you know you need to achieve to know what it takes to win each day. Having it clearly defined. When you’re in your superpower zone, you’re able to use what comes naturally. If you’re hitting from the left hand side of the plate, but you’re right handed, you’re certainly grinding, you’re not flowing. Outcomes is all about knowing those key outcomes every day when you’re in alignment. I go to the chiropractor every week, and the key with a chiropractor is to get you in alignment. Without giving too much information, when I’m in alignment things are flowing better all over my body.
Peter Drucker once said, and I’m going to butcher his quote, that most people think they know what they’re good at, but they’re wrong. Most people can only operate optimally from a position of strength. I’ve given several hundred Strengths Finder assessments. If you go to Gallup Strengths Center right now, anyone can take this assessment. Every human has 34 talents. I call those your untapped superpowers. Mine are learner, responsibility. When you combine them all together and you look at all of them, you’re either more of a strategic thinker, more of a relationship builder, more of an executer, train’s on time type of guy, or you’re more analytical. And the problem is this signals whether you’re hitting from the right-hand side of the plate or the left-hand side of the plate. If you have your strategic thinker trying to keep the trains running on time, he or she may feel like they’re a failure. And you may be like, “Well, you’re fired. You’re not getting that done.” The strategic thinkers need to be strategic thinkers, the relationship builders need to be out there building relationships, and every single human has these 34 talent themes, the order and which are near the top five matter. If you go and take the Strengths Finder Assessment, it shows you your top five. The odds that you would find your strengths twin, the person with the same five in the same order is one in 33 million. When you start investing in those, then you start to discover your superpower. But most people have no idea what they are.
The Strengths Finder Assessment is $19.99, and it comes with a lot of reports. There’s a lot of assessments you take and you’re like, “Great. So what?” And you walk away. This actually gives action guides on what you can do every day to invest in your talents to turn them into strengths. I’m a learner. Number one, I have to read every morning. It primes me for the day. You may think, what does reading fiction have to do with your work day? Well, if I go to the gym and I do leg presses, I’m not doing leg presses because I’m gonna do leg presses any other day or any other hour of my life. I do it so that my legs are strong, so I can walk up the stairs, so I can pick up my kids. It’s like that with your strengths. If you start investing in those just like muscles, they become stronger and they help you throughout the day.
The easiest way to follow me is go to FivePillarsofFreedom.com. It’s a landing page on my website. You can get chapter one of my book free, or purchase it if you like. That’s got all the other links to my podcast, my website, and all that good stuff.