Friday, April 11, 2008

The First 100 Days

It's not unusual for a sailor to change course and head for a different harbor when, after several days, the wind and tide are just not cooperating. Sometimes we’re on the water for days making little progress toward our destination. And sometimes, well, sometimes we see ourselves bobbing up and down like a cork with no land in sight, and it’s easy to question our destination, and perhaps our sanity.

When we set out on our adventure 100 days ago, I declared my intent to navigate these uncharted waters and reach my destination, “Global Enterprise” within a year. While I am still holding course, the wind does not seem to be cooperating. I say "seem to be," because at this point in my life, I have learned to expect the unexpected. Some days, it seems that everything I do is simply a place-holder until I am ready for what the universe has in store for me.

Nevertheless, I have 265 days left.

As you may have experienced in your own life, when you play full-out, take on something really big, or try to master something new, you are likely to get knocked to your knees more than a few times.

In that regard, I have not been disappointed. For the past 80 days, for example, I have been working hard to fill two CEO Boards. (If you are a first time reader, I joined The Alternative Board in January to learn how they built a global organization. I was certified in their methods and sent into the field to build two Boards of 8 CEOs each. The only difference is, I want larger companies on my board than their system was originally designed to support, so I’m finding few of their tried and true scripts seem to work for me.

Clearly, I have not perfected my message in a way that other CEOs find compelling. The past several weeks have not been easy by any means. My ego has gotten dented more than a few times along the way. I began the month with two CEOs on my first Board and ended the month with one. The fellow who backed out said he loved the idea, but hated the extra work. Two steps forward, one step back.

After sending letters to and cold calling more than 100 CEOs in my area, only five took my call. One was interested but didn’t meet my criteria. The second wanted to join but couldn't afford it. The third said he tried to grow once and it was too hard, so no thanks. The fourth said he would wait and see who else joined. The fifth is definitely my kind of guy and can afford it. I meet with him tomorrow. He started the conversation by saying "I don't need you to tell me how to be successful, I have everything I ever wanted. But I am interested in the camaraderie." So am I!

Anyway, this morning I was complaining to my wife, Frances, that I wished everything would settle down so I could gain some solid footing. She looked up and reminded me, "You’re on a boat! If you really wanted life to settle down, you’d be tied up at the dock."

Thanks, honey! Frances reminded me why I took on this challenge and set out for the unknown in the first place. It wasn’t because it would be a slam-dunk. It wasn’t because it the outcome is guaranteed, or even predictable. Otherwise, I’d have a desk job.

It’s day 100. I again look to the horizon and adjust my sails, reminded that I’ve set out on this journey because of my commitment to bring a remote possibility to fruition — A World that Works because Business Works. Suddenly, as I feel a cool breeze on my face and take in a deep, invigorating breath, I’m re-inspired by the memory of a late friend's poem called Imagine.

Here it is below. I hope you enjoy it and feel the sea breeze filling your sails again, too.


Imagine a world
where people are amazingly effective
as individuals and as members of teams.
Where they understand the business
and how they impact it.
Where they live where they want,
work where and when they want
and are powerfully effective.

Imagine a world
of global relationships
where prosperity and teamwork
replace cultural strife.

Where prosperity is driven
by the right ideas,
the right efforts and the right measures,
all focused on making a contribution,
to one another and our customers
rather than personal agendas
and department fiefdoms.

Imagine, what could we be?

- George Van Ness

Sail on.

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