I’m currently reading a great book called Small Giants, Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham. The book talks about companies that chose to stay small rather than become large businesses.
The author is constantly arguing that most people assume business success is the same as growth. Most people assume that bigger is better. But just as the systems and habits approach to improvement is focused on small steps, there is benefit to keeping a business small and it could prove to be part of a great success plan.
At one point he talks about those around you when you are building a successful business. He discusses the reasons why we have to choose for ourselves what success looks like, rather than following others.
He say, “Nor can you necessarily count on your friends and family – those who really do have your best interests at heart – to point out that you might find more happiness by choosing another path. They’re probably not aware of any alternative. Like most people, they assume that getting big is the whole idea. Then if things don’t go the way they want, if they don’t like what the company is doing to you – or to them – they’ll blame the business rather than your choice about what to do with it. For that matter, you, too, will probably blame the business – or your competitors, or the economy, or your employees, or the government, or whatever – if you get in trouble later on; and you may not be completely wrong.”
The point is that most people underestimate their ability to make choices. They assume things are done to them without their conscious involvement in the decision. So they listen to those around them, whom probably don’t have all of the options presented in a clear manner in their mind. So they resort to Big = Better.
But we always have a choice and many times the choices we make without a full understanding the systems involved turn out to be ones that we later say we didn’t have a choice.
So we have to start taking control of our lives. Only you know what will make you happy and if you only listen to others you will simply head in the direction that they think you should go, rather than what will make you happy.
It wasn’t until I started to make choices against common sense that I started to realize this. Instead of going on to graduate school after obtaining my bachelors degree, I went back to a 2-year school to get education on an area I was interested in to start a business.
This didn’t make sense to those around me (and even to me at times). But this felt like the direction I had to take. In order to reach my goals I had to do something other than following the normal path.
Many times we make decisions that impact our future and we don’t realize the incredible control we actually have over our lives. We assume outside factors are more impactful than they are. We assume we have to take certain direction towards happiness.
But if we evaluate the systems involved and realize that the path in front of us isn’t leading us towards our idea of success, we have to grab control of our lives and start off in a new direction, one that will take us towards our idea of success and happiness.