Two misunderstandings about business and dating

Business plan

There are two major misunderstandings about successful businesses and relationships. (Photo courtesy of /  Boians Cho Joo Young)

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do” –Proverb captured from Sri Lankan tea plantage

There are a few common misunderstandings about the fundamentals of entering into relationships and developing successful businesses. We need to unlearn from several concepts taught in business schools all over the world. Before launching a new venture people are taught to prepare detailed business plans, evaluate risks and estimate revenues.

Careful planning limits action

Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras prove this to be somewhat wrong. Even the brightest idea, carefully described in a business plan, will remain as an idea without execution. Great businesses and the most enduring companies have most often been built on mediocre ideas and pure experimenting. According to extensive research and the book Built to last, first published in 1994, many of the most known American corporations weren’t established on the basis of breakthrough ideas, products or services.

Instead, visionary companies, as Collins and Porras call them, such as P&G, Hewlett&Packard and 3M found their way to success through trial and error. Hewlett&Packard, to name just one, was founded without specific idea of the business of the company. Founders weren’t either certain which products they would make. Of course they did have some ideas, but many of the initial experiments turned out to be failures. Two founders primarily sought to be self-employed and establish their own business.

In Built to last Collins and Porras conclude that it’s a bad idea to wait for a superb idea to appear.That’s how you should feel about approaching a girl, making an unforgettable engagement or just a giving nice gift to your significant other. Have you ever wondered how a regular guy strolls hand in hand in the street with gorgeous woman? How has he got there?

It’s about our misconceptions. In a perspective of relationships, whether they were business or personal, one needs to bear in mind that trying and experimenting is the key forward. If you don’t utilize your chance you won’t ever find out how it would have turned out.

In business school I had a classmate who had a goal to talk to one previously unknown (beautiful) girl per day. Eventually he succeeded to find a girl who was nice too. Unfortunately nobody documented how many days it took. In business sales work follows the same logic. You can enhance your sales work and quality of your leads. But the more sales calls you make the more sales you create. From here we can make a transition to another common misunderstanding.

Charisma is overrated

Second common misunderstanding among want-to-be-entrepreneurs is that one should be a charismatic leader to establish a highly successful company. Collins and Porras prove this also to be a major misconception. To run a business effectively is not required to be an exceptional leader.

For sure CEOs of visionary companies are highly skilled leaders and businessmen in most aspects, but in visionary companies the business is not dependent on the top leader. The leaders develop their company in such a manner that the organizational culture, strategy and systems keep the wheels turning whoever would lead the company. One of the main tasks of the leader is to crystallize the purpose of the company.

This fact provides us support to the fundamentals of building a strong relationships. It’s more about hard work and understanding the dynamics of the relationship than being a perfect person and partner. To understand how and what to work for we need to first understand why relationships exist.

Remain humble – word of caution

The word of caution is about a phenomenon of positive illusion. The illusion is strongly psychological. It creates tendency to see us performing in daily tasks better or more than our peers. Most of the people think think that they are better drivers than others. Statistically that’s impossible. In our profession we often evaluate ourselves possessing better leadership skills than others.

When your spouse tells you that you don’t do any household work, you usually think you contribute a lot. Even if women tend to use such words as never, ever and at all, it’s probably a good time for serious reflection. In relationships it’s dangerous to benchmark yourself to other husbands or wives. Watching the big bunch of reality TV-shows is not going to help either. Stories about celebrity couples living beyond normal life are poor benchmarks.

Again, if you aren’t the most charismatic, borrowing the words of Collins and Porras, husband –  don’t let it bring you down. Letting go of overly positive thinking is good healthy steps to take. Just keep in mind that one does not need to be a superhero and success does not require greatest idea nor a plan. That’s proved by business practice of several great enterprises. The second piece of evidence is me and our relationship, which also started as a result of not that great idea.


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