Have you ever regretted trying to improve something? For me, it was my old car, an early '90s two-door that was already used when I got it. I didn't push it too hard, because I preferred walking anyway, but I also didn't do upkeep as much as I should have. It seemed to work fine. One day, I did break down and do a nice upgrade - perhaps it was the tires. Within weeks I was suddenly having trouble with the steering wheel, the exhaust and other seemingly random areas. I didn't realize it, but the whole machine compensated and adjusted to the flaws of each part. Once something changed, the natural balance fell apart.

The exact same problem happens when we decide to take our business to the next level. Whether it be through a growth spurt or a pivot, the challenge is that you can't improve just one part of your business. You have to improve the whole thing.

It's like Apple releasing the first iPhone and realizing it had to upgrade the iPods and, eventually, the entire Mac lineup, or television productions spending more money on makeup and lighting because HDTVs would show the wrinkles on every onscreen actor.

Improvements have consequences.

In my own career, I've done considerably less journalism and more entrepreneurship and consulting. The problem? Consulting pays significantly more than journalism and even startup entrepreneurship can lead to wealth through ownership. After I started consulting, I considered other journalism assignments and realized I wasn't getting what I was worth before and definitely wasn't being offered what I was worth now. My writing career today is all about strategically saying "No" and making sure what I am paid is in line with other parts of my career - a complication I didn't even consider when I first pursued entrepreneurship.

It is a matter of planning for success: If you actually do reach the big, hairy audacious goal you've set for yourself, then how will other dimensions of your career have to evolve, too? You don't want to put your premium tires on a jalopy.

Published on: Apr 15, 2016
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