Be Careful Which Way You Lean
Here’s a great guest post from Bret Wortman. Bret has been developing software for federal government clients for almost 15 years. He is president and founder of The Damascus Group and blogs at bretwortman.com.
In my family, we celebrate every Friday with pizza and a movie. We all gather around for a family friendly film. (My kids are 6 and 8.) This week, we decided to watch The Lorax.
At a key moment in the film, I was struck by a particular piece of wisdom from one of Dr. Seuss’ best characters.
The Lorax says, “A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean.”
No business person, leader or entrepreneur is ever an island. We rely on many others on a regular basis, whether we’re aware of it or not.
You are already leaning on someone. Is it the right someone? Have you considered who you’re leaning on or how your supporting foundation might change in the future?
In the movie, the young hero Ted learns the story of the Once-ler, a ruined industrialist. Let’s look at how the Once-ler’s business and his support structure changed as the story progressed.
- The Once-ler was a solo entrepreneur. Happy-go-lucky, he had a vision and little else.
- He then found a nurturing environment.
- In response to those mentorships and taking into account the needs of his supporters—not his customers—he changed his approach and adopted a slow-growth pattern, which better preserved his raw materials in the long run.
- Flush with newfound success, he made a slew of rash hiring decisions, including bringing in his unsupportive family to help.
- He succumbed to bad advice and adopted a fast-growth pattern.
- As his growth accelerated, so did his need for raw materials, which he consumed without regard for how to replace them.
- When he ran out of raw materials, the Once-ler’s team members left him.
By changing his approach and leaning on the wrong people, the Once-ler ultimately determined the direction of his own failure.
Imagine how different this story would have been had he continued along the slow-growth path, raising his prices to keep demand manageable and harvesting raw materials at a sustainable pace? It would be a less interesting in movie terms, but a far better success story.
Question: How are you being intentional about your own support structure?