The Thinker Statue | missing habit of entrepreneurial leaders

Most entrepreneurial leaders are great at doing, but they’re not so great at thinking. That’s a mistake that always comes back to bite them, eventually.

I was at a recent session with a client. We were discussing a specific issue, trying to get to the root (a process called IDSing), when the team realized that they were definitely not being as effective as they could have been.

I knew that they shouldn’t have gotten to that point, so I asked how many team members were regularly taking Clarity Breaks™. There was no response. “No one is doing Clarity Breaks?” I asked. Crickets.

It’s a critical habit of successful leaders to get away and think about their business. But these leaders were all missing it. “Do you think it would be useful to take the time on a regular basis to think through things like this issue?” I asked.

“Jim, it’s hard to think when there is doing to be done,” the owner said, with conviction.

Don’t “Just Do It”

This was an a-ha moment for me. What makes most entrepreneurial leaders great is that they are excellent doers. They get sh*t done. And it’s this same attribute that is the reason so many of them get lost in the weeds. They just keep churning forward, getting things done.

And so they miss out on opportunities because they never stop to ask if things have changed, or if there’s a better way. They’re climbing the ladder, but they’ve failed to notice that the ladder is leaning against the wrong building.

These entrepreneurial leaders have made a habit of working hard, but not smart. To work smart you need to take the time to do what we in the EOS community call Clarity Breaks. Clarity Breaks are breaks away from the office (if you can), as often as monthly to weekly. During this time, you do the thinking work for your business or team. This is essential work.

Get Clarity on Your Business Issues

If you’re like me, it’ll feel weird at first. You have about a hundred things to get done, but you’re at a coffee shop with a blank notepad, thinking. Thinking through a problem that’s plaguing your team or thinking through how to add value to your client experience, or thinking about how you can take advantage of a new market condition.

These issues sound pretty important, but most of us just try to work the problem instead of thinking it through. Most big issues, great ideas, company changing opportunities, or extensive obstacles need time for reflection. This is why the most successful entrepreneurial leaders take the time to think.

Henry Ford famously said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Be one of the few—you’ll never regret it.

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