Be Like a Buffalo - Why Entrepreneurs Should Walk Into The Eye of the Storm
As an entrepreneur, you learn pretty quickly not to dwell on the past and to move forward. Having said that, 2013 was without a doubt my most challenging year to-date and l learned a few lessons I’ll never forget.
1. Be more like a buffalo. As I’m knee deep in a bunch of corporate cleanup, my wife stops me and says “You know, you’re a lot like a buffalo … the buffalo is one of the only animals that will walk directly into a snow storm in order to get through as quickly as possible.” Curious, I did a little research and found this. Here’s the story that my wife was referring to:
"There are often terrible storms on the plains of Wyoming. The skies darken on the horizon and the pressure builds. As the storm approaches the creatures that live underground find safety, and the birds take to the canopy of the trees to find shelter, but the hoofed animals who can’t find shelter on the ground sometimes try to out run it… in terror they flee, and as they run and run the storm pursues them. Pretty soon exhaustion sets in, and then their final collapse. In the spring their bodies are often found as the snow begins to melt.
But the buffalo does things differently. When he feels the storm approaching he turns to face it. He stands firm and then drops down into his heart, and he begins to walk. He walks and walks right into the eye of the storm… while the wind and rain and thunder and lightening rage all around him he keeps on walking. Until, in time, he emerges right out the other side and feels the sun on his face again and the warmth of it on his back… and he knows he is free….”
2. Set your own direction. When times were tough, a former staffer looked at me and said “You know, you can’t just put the entire company on your shoulders.” Not true. I realized that I needed to tackle each individual issue head-on … like a buffalo.
3. It’s okay to remove the goal posts. Another timely comment from my wife who, bless her, is no athlete, told me to stop constantly moving the goal posts farther away as I got close to the end zone. I learned that setting unrealistic goals and unachievable targets was making me miserable. It’s great to set larger goals but smaller, attainable goals that get you in the end zone will create both short term and long term happiness.
4. When shit hits the fan, regroup, research and respond. Sometimes an immediate response is required but more often than not, you’ll have the time to compose yourself, research the situation in detail, and then respond precisely and confidently.
5. Employees can kill your company. All it takes is 3 or 4 people to completely obliterate your company. If the people you hire don’t fit the corporate culture you’re trying to create, it is destined for failure.
6. Employees can save your company. On the other hand, the right 3 or 4 people can help you sustain and even thrive in the toughest of circumstances. In my case I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by an exceptional group of people.
7. It’s okay to get angry. No one should feel ashamed to admit that they were pissed off at someone or something and that motivated them to take action. Anger is a great motivator but it has to be used sparingly and kept in check or it can completely poison your decision making.
8. Fear is your friend. Fear is also a great motivator as long as it isn’t paralyzing. As I found out, it’s pretty easy to become comfortable and even complacent at times and that’s a big problem. The fear of failure can be the ultimate motivating factor and holding at least a little bit of fear can give you a competitive advantage.
9. Honesty is the only policy. At every step of the way, you have to be honest with your customers, your staff and most importantly yourself. I learned that taking a straight/ direct approach, like the buffalo, is better than huddling up and waiting for the storm to pass.
After last week announcing House of Cards season two will premiere February 14th 2014, Netflix has released a full trailer hinting at the story arcs for the new season. The trailer comes just hours after the political thriller was nominated for four Golden Globes.
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