For me, this conjures up a scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail where the king is explaining about how he built his castle on a swamp, each castle sank into the swamp until the fourth one stood firm.
It’s so incredibly important to have solid foundations on which to build your life or business. There are times though where we think we have a rock-solid foundation and ignore the holes forming in it. Just like we think we’re invincible and nothing can hurt us or affect us, we think our foundations are too.
There are times when we need to fix those holes and cracks but that means taking a step backwards and many see it as a weakness. Their ego will tell them they’re going in the wrong direction. Their ego will tell them they’re letting themselves down and they’ve become as weak as a little field mouse. I disagree though. I see the act of taking a step backwards to be one of the strongest and most powerful things we can do!
We begin these journeys whether in life or in business with big plans. We’re excited, our emotions are running high and just like a kid on Christmas day, we forget about most things because our focus is on the prize (or the presents). Maybe we forget to put the battery door back onto one of our gifts properly.
At first, everything is amazing. We spend hours playing with the new toy, it seems like only surgery will remove the smile from our face. Then it happens, the toy stops working because the batteries have fallen out (remember the door?), the smile weakens, the tears begin, the special day is filled with wails of sadness. All because you’d missed something at the beginning.
“When things go wrong, go back to the basics” –Urvi Mistry
Tame our ego
One of the most powerful things that stop us taking that step backwards is our ego. It would be like asking a NASA rocket scientist if they would like to read “Rocket Science for Dummies”, they just wouldn’t do it because they would see it as belittling their existing knowledge. I’ll be honest, I would have felt the same if someone had handed me an “Archery for Dummies” book just as I’d won my second British championship title.
These are the times when we have to suspend our ego. It can be difficult and many times we have to force ourselves to do it, but when we do we massively grow. It’s like when we go to a workshop or conference. The speaker lineup is awesome, you’re excited to see them. The event begins, the house lights dim and the stage is spotlit.
The first speaker comes on stage, begins talking and your first thoughts are “But I already know that”. The mental walls shoot up and you miss all of the golden nuggets available because your ego shut off your mind to any new information.
This is exactly the same process that happens when someone suggests to us that maybe we should take a few steps backwards to strengthen our foundation. The mental walls go up and our mind goes into lockdown. It’s like sticking fingers in our ears and loudly shouting “La La La La La La” so we don’t hear someone saying things.
So what can you do?
The first step is to slap your ego around the face with a wet trout. Your ego is used to being in control so doing something to disrupt that situation gives your conscious mind the control back long enough to jump in and begin reasoning and questioning the situation.
Start asking yourself “What do I REALLY need to do to fix things?”. The solution won’t be to stick a band-aid on, it’s to fix the core issues which can be anything from lack of systems/procedures, lack of academic knowledge or lack of experience. All of these fall into the realms of your foundations and that’s where your focus should be.
All too often we complicate things to the point where we stop seeing the solution. To stop your pizza from sticking to the box lid, you wouldn’t start to develop a non-stick cardboard coating so the cheese doesn’t stick to the lid when it gets dumped around by the delivery driver. You’d keep it simple and put the little plastic thing in the centre of the pizza instead.
“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution. The best solutions are always simple.” – Ivan Sutherland
When we complicate things, not only do we lose sight of the end goal, but we forget about the simple solutions. Those simple solutions reside in the realm of the basic, that place you get to when you take this valuable but sometimes difficult steps backwards. Yes, it’s going to be hard at first, yes it’s going to give you those feelings of failure and going back to school, but believe me when I tell you they will be the best, strongest and most powerful steps you take, on a par with Neil Armstrong’s small step for man.