History is History

SEP 10, 2014

Last week my son’s club soccer team won a tournament.  It is the first time they have ever won a tournament.  In fact, the year before this they got last in the same tournament.  The strides they made in the last year have been astounding.  Their coach deserves most all the credit.  Exactly 3 days after winning their first tournament, without any warning, the coach got fired.

The next day the team met their new coach.

That coach came in and has a direction he wants to take the team.   My son, who played an offensive/defensive position was made to play a defensive position in this weekends game.  He had never played that position before.  He did not like it.

He was getting really good at the position he was used to playing with the old coach and now he had a brand new coach that had little regard for the past.  This coach wanted to see what each kid could do.  The past meant very little to him.  He knew the past had earned each kid a spot on the team and a certain amount of playing time; but now he would re-evaluate that and possibly change his mind on many of the player’s roles.

It was in watching all this unfold that I realized in a very deep way that everything I have done in the past has little bearing on my future.  My past has created opportunities for me just as yours has for you.

I had been CEO of a $400M company and was now a CEO of a startup.  With my old company I had a great executive team, sales and technical teams, and consistent earning to count on.  I had an Admin that set up meetings, travel, etc and blocked me from things I wanted to avoid.  I was tough to get a meeting with.  My “reputation” proceeded me much of the time.  I was comfortable in all of this.

Well now, in this new start up, none of that matters for shit.  None of it.  I watched what happened to my son and realized we are all susceptible to it.  A new leader, a paradigm shift, or a self imposed challenge like a start up all require real self inspection and personal pivots on how we approach our future.  It will very likely involve getting uncomfortable in order to thrive.

In the new company I had been using an Admin to set my meetings and do follow up.  I was leveraging my reputation to help in the selling and validity of the product and company.  My route to market plans were leverage based and removed much of the workload off of me.  I was in the field, but only partially.  It was going okay, but “okay” was not going to cut it.  I was relying on my past to secure my future.  That is a mistake.  A mistake that can be fatal to a career or a new business.

This weekend I decided I would judge myself not on my past, but solely on my actions from today forward.  I knew under this new criteria, I would HAVE to change.  The are some of the changes I instituted immediately:

  1. I picked up the phone and started calling people myself
  2. I would starting handing out my cell phone number again
  3. I refuse to count on email for much of anything
  4. I defined my champions who will help in reference selling and partnering and commit to building a personal relationship with them.
  5. I starting writing my own notes after each meeting and entering them in a CRM system I choose and gave to the team to use.
  6. I organized a two day offsite to build homeruns with all team members and give them clarity of purpose.  We do this tomorrow.
  7. I realized becoming vulnerable and available to my clients allow for real growth.
  8. I realized staying humble would be key to my future.
  9. I realized rolling up my sleeves and working my smartest would inspire those around me to do the same.
  10. I realized that today and the days that follow would be THE key to my future, NOT the days that were behind me.

My son received a new leader without having any say.  That new leader will judge him from this day forward.  What a great lesson to learn at such a young age.

I have self imposed a new challenge upon myself and my success or failure will be based on what I do from this day forward.

In so many ways, whether we admit it or not, we can use past success and position as a way to become complacent and maybe even wasteful.  We can use it as a way to be less engaged.  We can use it as a way to hide from real work.  Don’t fall into that trap.

If you take nothing else from this post, try and remember this:

When you find yourself under new leadership or facing a new challenge, trust that the leader and/or the market will judge you on what you do from today forward, not what got you here…

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