Are You Busy Doing…?

How to think strategically about my family business' future

When’s the last time you took time to think? I mean really THINK. Envision. Dream. What’s that? No time between all the meetings, family commitments and running the business? No time. Well, that’s the trap. It’s not that you don't have enough time. You are caught up in a trap and that trap is called “Busy Doing”.  
Early in your career, it was your job to be productive in whatever area you worked in – be it in sales, production, finance, etc.  You were “busy doing”…executing tasks, generating results, managing projects, prospects, people or all three. That’s what you were accountable for.
Then one day, you got tapped on the shoulder to lead. This new role comes not only with a change in title, but requires a change in mindset. With this transition, comes a demand for a new set of skills and that’s the wall so many leaders hit – where a high-performing doer needs to become a high-performing thinker.
Thinking big and long-term means a family business owner must build a strong leadership team. A team that not only collaborates on developing the company’s strategy, but is also “busy doing” and executing on the plan. The net result of their efforts gives the owner time to breathe, think, explore new opportunities, address challenges, and to think about future strategic steps (think of them as chess moves) for your company. For the organization to grow strategically, a leader must be thinking forward beyond the horizon.
Unfortunately, far too many family business owners are stuck in fire-fighting mode all the time, holding the position of chief problem solver, which means you are going to be very busy “just doing”.  That might solve today’s crisis, but it will stymie the company’s ability to scale up.
Now, here are some interesting scientific discoveries about the human mind and how it operates.  First thing to know is over 50% of the mind’s activity happens on auto-pilot – yep, the subconscious is running a lot of the show.  In addition, most “breakthroughs” come as a result of “thinking time”; those moments when you turn off the white noise of the day and create the right environment for the proverbial “light bulb” to go off. The challenge is to find a way to carve out, ideally, one or two hours a day – or at least a couple of hours a week – to do nothing expect think about the true future of the business, write ideas down, and let them incubate in your mind. 
One of my clients states that his greatest thinking takes place while he is walking his dog.  Another when he reads and then spends 15 to 20 minutes being quiet, letting the loose ideas emerge. Others find thinking time during their morning runs, travel time, or at the beach. Journaling is another way to bond all those BBs rolling around in your head to form a coherent idea. And last but not least, a business coach is an excellent resource; someone who helps by letting you talk out loud and holds you accountability for committing to THINK time.
There is no right way to do this.  It doesn’t matter where or how, by yourself or with others. You just need more thinking than doing. Plan for it, carve it out, commit to the time, and as Nike® says – just do it!