We all know that there’s no such thing as an “overnight success.”
It’s true in business, and it’s true in life. Nor is there a magic bullet, the quick fix, a switch you can flip or a single, out-of-nowhere “aha!” moment that changes everything.
These are the reminders I get from reading about “The Flywheel and The Doomloop” in Jim Collins’ Good to Great.
The flywheel is a heavy, massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle. To get it moving, you have to push with all of your concentration and effort. It might only move a centimeter in the beginning. You keep pushing. It moves some more. You keep going in a consistent direction and keep pushing, and after what feels like countless pushes, the flywheel builds momentum.
Pretty soon, it’s flying solo. And that’s the moment when everyone turns to stare in wonder, at how it has miraculously taken off and started generating its own energy.
To others on the outside looking in, it appears you’ve flipped a switch. All of a sudden, you’re “It,” the talk of the town.
As entrepreneurs, our business is our flywheel. Every time we post a blog, make a phone call, go to a networking event, attract a new client or customer, we are making a small, imperceptible push on that flywheel. And so much of it happens quietly over a long period of time.
There are those who look for the bright shiny object that’s going to break them through to success. And there are those who push the boring, heavy flywheel, day in and day out. They create the most sustainable results. Consider this shake-you-up observation by Peter Drucker that Collins shares on pg. 180: “the drive for mergers and acquisitions (ie bright shiny objects) comes less from sound reasoning than from the fact that doing deals is a much more exciting way to spend your day than doing actual work.”
If we’re doing the actual work, we sometimes get tired of pushing and want to stop (I call those my “Stop the world, I want to get off!!!” moments).
This is where I think introvert entrepreneurs have an edge. We have an ability to focus and drill down deep, to stick with a task over time. That doesn’t mean we don’t get distracted; I often find myself coming down with a severe case of entrepreneurial ADD. But we generally can keep our nose to the grindstone (or in this case, the flywheel) long after others have grown impatient.
Another key point to remember: make sure you’re pushing on the right flywheel. Check to see if you’re feeding the Cycle of Success and the Cycle of Failure (both concepts will be discussed in my Nov 17 podcast interview with Julie Fleming). If you’re caught in the Cycle of Failure, your pushing will cause movement, but it will never create momentum.
The take-away for the introvert entrepreneur is to use your super powers of focus and depth to push with quiet consistency. Keep in mind that all of the little steps you make, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, will add up to what looks like a breakthrough.
You can’t force or manufacture that breakthrough; it has to be the result of, as Collins puts it, a “compounding investment of effort.”
You can only keep showing up, keep pushing, and then smile in wonder as the wheel starts to carry you.
PS: Introverts, remember that you don’t have to push alone! A few well-chosen, energizing partnerships will make that flywheel much easier to get moving. BEFORE you get tired, know who you can call upon who will help you push or even push YOU.
For Your Consideration:
What tiny pushes are you making right now on your flywheel? What keeps you going when you get tired? What muscles are getting stronger the more you push?