It's Time to Rethink Your Thinking!
Updated: May 2
Though escaping our chilly Wisconsin winters for a warm destination is how I like to relax and recharge, it’s also when I take time to reflect on my business. While soaking in the sun recently, I read the book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, and his words struck a chord. As an entrepreneur and consultant to business owners, rethinking (forming our own second opinions) is my life – or is it?
The reality is, entrepreneurs are generally highly driven people, and we tend to view changing our minds and how we do things as signs of indecision or incompetence. Yet, as Grant shares, scientific thinking favors humility, doubt, curiosity, and discovery. Not pride and conviction. With humility, we remain grounded and realize we are flawed and fallible.
He goes on to say that confidence is a measure of how much you believe in yourself. You can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present.
So why as business owners and people do we hesitate at the very idea of rethinking? Again, Grant hit home with this insight - questioning ourselves makes the world unpredictable. What was once right may now be wrong as new information comes to light. Yet, reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making us feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves.
When consulting business owners on the importance of building value in their businesses to eventually exit, I hear multiple points of resistance to beginning the planning process:
I’m not ready to exit, I’ll reach out when I’m ready to sell.
What if my customers, employees, or competitors find out?
I’m relatively young and healthy – there’s no need to even think about my exit right now.
I’ve been doing this for “X” number of years, and I don’t know what else I would do.
What if, as a business owner, you rethought your views on what “exit planning” means?
Let's take another look at those points of resistance:
Instead of seeing the exit planning process as the last step of your journey as a business owner, look at it as the first of many steps toward growing value in your business and setting yourself up to have options to exit on your terms in the future.
Instead of resisting the process of planning because you fear loss of confidentiality, focus on strategically building a culture of value growth where your employees and managers act like owners – where being prepared for exit is simply the “norm.”
Instead of ignoring that 50% of owner exits are unplanned, focus on maximizing and protecting the value of your business to provide for your family, your employees, and your retirement.
Instead of seeing retirement as the loss of your identity, see it as a new chapter to evolve and build a new purpose.
One of the reasons we don’t rethink is because we fear being wrong. But what if we approached building our business and planning for our futures with a scientific thought process? Everything we did would be an experiment and a testing of our hypothesis to improve on what we do next.
While enjoying sunshine, warm weather, and relaxation on my trip, I engaged in many conversations with other vacationers, many of whom were retired. Most of that time I spent listening. I listened to them talk about their past careers, what they are doing in retirement, and the many tropical vacations they have taken. However, I didn’t hear any talk about their new purpose in life - and this bothered me. I couldn’t help but envision my future.
As I reflected on the idea of retirement and what will make the transition to my own Next Chapter successful, I realized many things:
I’m not ready to retire in the traditional way, i.e., travel, golf, move to Florida!
I need to have a purpose to get up every day.
I need to engage in intellectual conversations on a regular basis that challenge my thinking and engage my brain in problem solving and helping others.
I need to experience life, not just go through the motions.
Most importantly, I need to know that I lived a life of meaning.
Ironically, as I waited in the airport to board my flight home, I received this e-mail from someone I've never met.
As busy as life gets it is important to stop and share appreciation when other people’s words or actions touch us in meaningful ways. I just found your article from the Business News – June 2022. The article is titled “Align your business with your Life Purpose.” I cut it out and put it into a folder because I felt so strongly aligned with your words.
I opened that folder today and as I read the words again there is a pleasant irony that came to light. I also lost both of my parents within months of each other several years ago. And now I am blessed with my first grandchild who just turned four months old. Life’s journey must have meaning.
My purpose for reaching out is merely to express my gratitude for the words you shared. I found them to be informational the first time I read them, and today I also recognize they are quite inspirational. It was perfect timing to feel the motivational force of your words in my life. Thank you.
My best to you as you diligently keep your focus on reaching for fulfillment into the next chapter of your life.
As human beings, we seldom realize the impact that we have on others. It can be our words, our actions, or as business owners, our leadership, and the opportunities that we can help create. Our ability to “rethink” our ideas, our decisions, and our futures provides us with the humility, doubt, curiosity, and discovery to never stop experiencing, never stop learning, and never stop impacting our lives and the lives of those around us.
Whether it's examining your views on exit planning or looking at how you interact with your family, friends, employees, and complete strangers…I challenge you to “think again”!
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Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC
Our firm is focused on providing business owners and their businesses with strategic planning, exit planning, financial expertise, and organizational improvement. We use a holistic approach within all of our services by aligning leadership with business strategy and outcomes.
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