Thought Pillars

Confidence Over Certainty

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

— Wayne Gretzky

Most game-changing growth efforts involve complex and ambitious ventures that can’t be mapped out in advance. Put another way, they involve risk – risk in execution, risk in outcome. That makes many people uncomfortable. And as the saying goes, if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.

To create a step-level change in our business or personal growth, we need to trade in certainty of how we are going to accomplish something for confidence in our experience, our skill and our good judgment to be able to course correct along the way until we get there. We have to know where the goal is, and we have to know our next move. And then we have to play the game and make sure we are ready to take the shot.

Tribes Over Teams

“150. This is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation.”

— Robert Dunbar

A few years ago, a research group at Google undertook a project, code named Project Aristotle, to understand what makes an effective team. After a great deal of work they identified the top element to be “psychological safety”. I prefer calling it a sense of belonging. Because then you realize that this is something social psychologists have known for decades.

I’ve been thinking about teams for over a decade now, and working in them for much longer. I’ve worked with teams that have managed to accomplish more together than we had any right to! And teams that couldn’t accomplish much even though we were individually skilled. And teams that were really just a group of people with one person driving all activity. It’s a lot more fun, motivating, and satisfying working with the first of these kinds of teams – I call them tribes. And the essence of building a tribe is creating a sense of belonging.

Why Over What

“Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t.”

— Simon Sinek

OK. You know where the goal is, and you know the next step you need to take on your way there. You aren’t waiting for certainty because you know that gaming changing growth requires decisions. And “decisions” do not equal “no decisions” + “more questions”. And you have invested in turning your team into a tribe. Because you know that game changing growth requires the people involved to be highly aligned, motivated, and engaged. If you’ve done all of this, you have probably also articulated your “WHY”. But if you haven’t, stop everything else you are doing, and do that now. Not WHAT you are doing. Not WHAT happens when you’ve done it. But WHY anyone should choose you over the other person trying to do the same WHAT. If you properly frame your WHY, a bunch of other previously hard decisions become obvious – and your tribe becomes better aligned to achieve step-level change.