Friday, August 03, 2012

Inhaing Our Own Fumes

Entrepreneurs are notorious for being too close to themselves.

Too close to the business, too close to the product and too close to their own perspective. And the problem is, when they’re in too deep, inhaling their own fumes, they start seeing things that aren’t really there. Like a mental magic trick, they create optical illusions that obscure the truth and delay the execution process.

I remember writing a book a few years ago that drove me up the wall. Since the layout architecture was more complex than usual, by the time the document was print ready, I literally starting reading words that weren’t there.

My designer was convinced I was hallucinating. So we met for coffee. And Jeff patiently cleared my eyes and helped me see what I needed to see. Then he told me to let it be. Eventually, we shipped the books in time for my overseas seminar and nobody got hurt.

But could have been much worse. As a freelancer, I don’t have a big furnace to feed.

Other entrepreneurs, ones with employees, vendors and multiple stakeholders, have a much broader constituency to cope with. And the minute they get to close to themselves, things start to get broken.

Smart organizations build external networks. Community platforms, social media outlets and other online listening posts to help them scan the horizon better.

Otherwise, they never get out of their own head.

And the mind can be a dangerous neighborhood.