Now, you might be wondering, “How do you motivate people with brutal facts? Doesn’t motivation flow chiefly from a compelling vision?” The answer, surprisingly, is, “No.” Not because vision is unimportant, but because expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time. One of the dominant themes that runs throughout this book is that if you successfully implement its findings, you will not need to spend time and energy “motivating” people. If you have the right people on the bus, they will be self-motivated. The real question then becomes: How do you manage in such a way as not to de-motivate people?And one of the single most de-motivating actions you can take is to hold out false hopes, soon to be swept away by events.
Yes, leadership is about vision. But leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted. There’s a huge difference between the opportunity to “have your say” and the opportunity to be heard. The good-to-great leaders understood this distinction, creating a culture wherein people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard.
“If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. Any business that doesn’t create value for those it touches, even if it appears successful on the surface, isn’t long for this world. It’s on the way out.”
“In what ways does the world pull at you in an attempt to make you normal? How much work does it take to maintain your distinctiveness? To keep alive the thing or things that make you special?
I know a happily married couple who have a running joke in their relationship. Not infrequently, the husband looks at the wife with faux distress and says to her, “Can’t you just be normal?” They both smile and laugh, and of course the deep truth is that her distinctiveness is something he loves about her. But, at the same time, it’s also true that things would often be easier – take less energy – if we were a little more normal.
We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable. We are all taught to “be yourself.” What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.
You have to pay a price for your distinctiveness, and it’s worth it. The fairy tale version of “be yourself” is that all the pain stops as soon as you allow your distinctiveness to shine. That version is misleading. Being yourself is worth it, but don’t expect it to be easy or free. You’ll have to put energy into it continuously.
The world will always try to make Amazon more typical – to bring us into equilibrium with our environment. It will take continuous effort, but we can and must be better than that.
“It seems a farmer was out working his field when his plow caught on something, and it wouldn’t budge. The horse reared up and the farmer cursed. After calming the horse the farmer yanked back on the braces. But the plow still wouldn’t budge. Because he was an impatient man his first reaction was to go into Judger. Had a rock or other obstacle broken his plowshare? That could mean losing at least two days’ work while he hauled the broken parts to the blacksmith! Cursing, he began digging around to free the plow. To his surprise, he discovered that it was caught on an iron ring buried six inches under the ground. After freeing his plow, the farmer got curious. He cleared away some of the dirt and pulled on the iron ring. Off came the lid of an ancient chest. He peeked down inside it. Before him, glittering in the sun, lay a treasure of precious jewels and gold.
This story reminds us that it is often by confronting our toughest obstacles that we find our greatest strengths and possibilities, but sometimes we’ve got to dig deep to find them. Campbell had a phrase for it: Where you stumble, there your treasure is.
To uncover that treasure you’d ask yourself questions like: What could I discover? What haven’t I noticed before? What might be valuable here?”
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Lifeby Marilee Adams and Marshall Goldsmith
Crave companions, not competitors. I want people to sail with me through this puzzling and frightening world. I expect to fail at moments on this journey, to get lost—how could I not? And I expect that you too will fail.
“Starting a new venture is like jumping off a cliff and sewing a parachute on the way down. This book is the parachute.” —Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Airbnb “This is required reading for founders. Experienced entrepreneurs all know this period Scott refers to as ‘the messy middle’ and a few of us have worked our way out of it, but this is the first time I’ve seen an expert—both as a founder and as an investor—break down in such detail just how to endure, optimize, and make it through.” —Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Initialized Capital and Reddit “Scott Belsky is a master of generous work worth doing. The Messy Middle will help you see that you have more control than you dare to admit, and the ability to make a difference if you care enough.” —Seth Godin, author of Linchpin “Having been through the ups and downs of the messy middle many times, it’s critical to understand the challenges ahead. This insightful book empowers you to approach them head-on. Belsky’s powerful toolkit, based on hard earned experiences, is an essential guide to building a compelling product, revolutionizing an organization or growing your leadership abilities.” —Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod, co-inventor of the iPhone, founder and former CEO of Nest, Principal at Future Shape
“Building a lasting business is 1% idea and 99% resilience. The Messy Middle details the unglamorous but essential lessons every founder needs to learn.” —Jennifer Hyman, Co-Founder & CEO, Rent The Runway
“The Messy Middle is one of my favorite business books of the last decade. It’s humble, smart, vulnerable, and precise. If you do complex work (don’t we all?), this book will show you how to navigate the most difficult part of any endeavor.” —Todd Henry, author of Herding Tigers
“With The Messy Middle, Belsky delivers a brilliant book that goes past dogma and slogans into key tactics and ideas. … Small business teams and evolving start up teams will find The Messy Middle useful for refining every aspect of their game.”— Small Business Trends