What makes an entrepreneur do what he or she does? How do you dare to risk everything in order to create something? It can’t just be about the money. If that were it, there are easier ways. What gives you the courage to try against incredible odds? The answer: A little bit of crazy mixed with facts and faith. In the book ‘Thou Shall Prosper’ by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, he talks about leadership requiring both facts and faith. I was fascinated by this idea. A leader must have an incredible grasp of the facts of any situation. If you look at the great leaders in history, they were geniuses at understanding the world around them as it was. The key is the understanding of how it is, not how we wish it was or how we fear it might be. So many articles today, even in “legitimate” news and magazines are titled something like “Many farmers are afraid the future might be gloomy”. Then the authors go on to talk as if they can predict the future. While it may sell news, it is certainly no way to lead others.
If we are to lead; we must follow certain steps when we make our decisions.
Those steps combine facts and faith. We must:
- Get the relevant information.
- See things as they actually are, not as we fear they might become.
- See things as they could be.
- Make the decisions based on that information.
- Once we have made the decision, allocate the resources, people, and talent to make our decision right.
I recently purchased the hardest kind of business to buy. It was in bankruptcy as it had falling revenues for the last two years, not to mention the morale was terrible. I normally would have walked. What kept me interested and ultimately led to the purchase?
- I know the town the business is in very well.
- I know the reasons for the declining revenues.
- We are experts at creating amazing culture.
- I was able to negotiate a win-win financial deal with the bankruptcy professionals.
- I did extensive due diligence.
- I have the vision it will take to make it successful.
- I am able to tune out the naysayers and create a vision.
- We are in the process of making the decision to turn the business around with massive action.
Will it be successful? I guess only time will tell. I have faith that it will and my actions show that faith. I am moving forward with my resources, time, money, and people to make it so.
In order to be great leaders, we must constantly be looking at the facts.
We must understand our customer, team, industry and capabilities. These facts arm us with the ability to make good decisions. Once we know these things, steps 1 and 2 are easier. That is not to be underestimated. A leader who is blind to the facts, or chooses to ignore them, ends up with a company he or she wishes they did not have. It is important to note that many people have access to the same information. In fact, many of your team can see the same things you can see and they can get relevant information and analyze it. They could see things for what they really are. The difference maker between just having information and being a leader is that leaders also have the faith to take steps 3, 4, and 5. Faith in this context means working towards something yet unseen as if it is assured. Many times only the leader can do this. Only the leader can see and set the vision. You must see it clearly in your mind’s eye, you must know that it will come to pass and then you must work your ass off to be sure it does. Only the leader can take the relevant facts and then change them to see things as they could be. Not in a naïve or ignorant way, but in a guiding, leading way. Only Steve Jobs could see what Apple could be and then create the vision and plan to make it so. He was not ignorant of the facts. Apple was in big trouble and he took those facts and used them to create the vision. However without faith, he would have been paralyzed. Both were important. Faith also allows you to make the decisions that have to be made. Once the vision is crystal clear, the decisions become much easier. It does not get rid of the problems but instead puts them in perspective to the whole vision. Finally, it allows you to make the decision right.
When everyone is telling you it can’t be done or that it’s too hard, you press on with laser-like precision, keeping the end in mind.
Leaders must have incredible grasp of the facts. They must know them better than anyone else and be able to rely on them in a realistic way. Finally, they must have the faith that goes beyond the facts to see something higher and better.