What's your number one challenge? The thing that, if you could accomplish it, would make lots of other goals fall into place?
Most of us have one, big thing weighing on us in our businesses. Maybe it's in finance, or operations, or marketing. But whatever it is, I suspect that you might be hiding from the challenge rather than facing it head-on.
To test this, ask yourself the following question:
When I think about my greatest challenge, could I solve it by learning more or seeking out someone who knows what to do?
If the answer is yes, then you're avoiding your challenge -- but don't worry, we all do this.
In fact, I spent the better part of this year avoiding what I thought might be an opportunity to evolve our accounting. Then I went back for an MBA this fall, learned all about managerial accounting, and, lo and behold, I learned exactly what we could do to improve our system.
Why did it take me the better part of a year to seek the knowledge I needed? Partly because I was putting off what I perceived to be a scary undertaking, but also partially because I assumed that those around me had everything under control and that I couldn't possibly improve a system I knew comparatively little about.
Question everything when it comes to your number one challenge. Chances are that solving your greatest challenge isn't all that hard.
After all, plenty of other people have probably solved exactly what you're trying to figure out, or at least something close enough that you could learn from analyzing their solution.
Try these three questions to figure out how to tackle your greatest challenge before the end of this year:
1. Who is currently in charge of your challenge?
Sometimes you've given your challenge to a coworker or family member. You assume they're doing a great job. And yet, you're just not seeing the results you want.
It might be time to take back this particular item and investigate it for yourself. If you did that, are you afraid of offending the person? If so, try to find a mutually beneficial way forward.
In fact, you probably have a shared vision and goal with the person to whom you delegated your challenge. So, most often it's simply a matter of stepping in to "help them out," rather than to take it away from them.
To that point, this past Fall we hired a B2B lead generation company to help my business partner and "head of sales" because we could both feel that it was more than a one-person job. Though it took a while to admit we needed help, it's been reassuring to know that we now have the additional resources.
2. Where might you find the solution?
As I mentioned, in 99.99 percent of cases, the solution is already out there. You may not have to go back to school to get it -- in fact, you can likely find it with a simple Google search, buying a book or watching YouTube.
But the greatest opportunity of all would be to find someone who has already had the experience of overcoming your challenge. Finding a mentor or business coach who has "been there" and "done that" will give you massive shortcuts while also providing you the peace of mind that you'll feel knowing that you're on the right path.
In fact, earlier this month I spoke with the former CEO of Cold Stone, who told me how he used his CostCo training in efficient operations to effectively increase the operational efficiency of the ice cream franchises. It was another great reminder that lessons learned in the past can be strategically applied to the present -- and the best part is, those experiences don't have to be your own to learn from them.
3. What will happen when you solve this challenge? What will happen if you don't?
Take out a piece of paper. Write down your number one challenge.
Now list out all of the things that will happen when you solve the challenge. Will you make more money? Have more time? Be happier?
How will you feel once you've accomplished your number one challenge?
Now, write out what will happen if you don't solve your number one challenge.
Ask yourself if the pain of solving your problem is greater than the pain of having it.
Solving your greatest challenge basically comes down to mind over matter. Sometimes we fail to do what we need to do because we underestimate both how great it will be to solve a challenge and how painful it will be to stay where we are.
So get a little uncomfortable as the year winds down. It's not okay to be lazy, apathetic or otherwise hiding from what you need to do to be successful.
2018 is the Year of Doing -- now go out there and get it!