If you want to achieve success, you should ponder these three questions:
What is my best purpose to achieve conscious success?
How can I demonstrate high awareness for conscious success?
How can I positively differentiate myself from others?
Those three questions are literally on the front flap of a new book, The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success. They pulled me into a narrative by David Nielson. In the book, David shares the dilemma of how to achieve conscious success and outlines a process that helps you move to a life that fulfils your purpose. David is a management consultant who has spent over three decades in consulting and leadership development. I followed up with him to talk about his work.
“You cannot differentiate yourself based on a false image of yourself.” -David E. Nielson
Conscious Success is knowing how you want to show up in life and business, and following a prescribed behavior set which deliberately produces the success you have defined for yourself. The elements and behaviors are specifically the 9 Dimensions.
“How you show up in life is a conscious choice – an import choice, it turns out.” -David E. Nielson
What are some ways to move from unconscious to conscious, and from incompetence to competence?
It starts with increasing your own self-awareness. We emphasize in the 9DCS model that the foundation is defining your purpose, increasing your self-awareness, and increasing your social awareness. As part of the 9DCS model and book, we created an assessment to assist individuals in increasing their self-awareness. We believe this is the starting point for developing your own plan to move toward your own conscious success.
“Gratitude drives your purpose.” – David E. Nielson
Complex problems are messy, unstable, unpredictable, confounding and don’t come with right answers, only best attempts. These problems require new solutions created specifically for the circumstances, and you can only know that you’ve found a good one in retrospect. Contrast that with complicated challenges which are the domain of the expert: a known solution exists, and it can be reliably and successfully applied as needed by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Building a fence between your yard and a neighbor’s yard is a complicated challenge; building a great relationship with your neighbor is complex. Fixing a car is complicated; disrupting the automotive industry is complex. Implementing a customer relationship management system is complicated; delivering a winning customer experience every time is complex.
10 Steps to Solving Complexity
You list 10 simple steps to solving complexity. Which step trips leaders up more than others?
Leaders tend to get tripped up on the early steps, and when that happens it means they don’t even get to the point where they’re trying to implement the later ones.
In step 1 – acknowledge the complexity – leaders often don’t see the difference between complicated and complex, so they can’t acknowledge it. All they know is that some challenges tend to get solved, and some don’t. This leads to the wrong conclusion – if going to the experts to solve some problems (i.e. the complicated ones) works, it makes sense to go to them to solve all of them. Since the complex ones are categorically different, the experts and the expert-centric model of solving problems is the wrong approach.
Even when leaders do recognize and acknowledge that this problem is different, steps 2 and 3 are where they’ll tend to devote much less attention than they should, and these steps are also foundational. Step 2 is about framing the complexity in a great question, and step 3 is about getting all the right people involved in answering that question.
Instead of a great, clear, compelling, aspirational question – which takes work – they’ll tend to do some problem definition, have a report written, and use this as a starting point. This easily leads to miscommunication, misunderstanding and misalignment (from the start) about what the problem is, what success looks like, why it matters, and what’s at stake.
And instead of assigning a high-variety group from inside and around their organization to develop solutions, they’ll tend to go to the usual suspects, keep the group small, and rely on what they see, know and believe (which, with complex problems, isn’t nearly enough).
“A really, really good question will launch a thousand really, really good conversations.”
Entrepreneurs and startups face an uphill battle as they launch. That’s not surprising, because statistics show that 80-90% of them will fail. Against these daunting odds, entrepreneurs must not only be innovative, but determined to succeed not matter what happens.
And, according to Samuel Dinnar and Lawrence Susskind’s book, Entrepreneurial Negotiation, the biggest threat they face is an inability to negotiate.
That grabbed my attention; so I followed-up to discuss the findings with Samuel Dinnar. Samuel is the president of Meedance, a negotiation and dispute resolution service, and an instructor at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
“Entrepreneurs need to treat negotiation as a critical skill.” -Samuel Dinnar
What are “entrepreneurial negotiations” and how are they different?
In the research for our book, my colleague Lawrence Susskind and I interviewed many entrepreneurs from diverse industries and backgrounds. We found that in entrepreneurial negotiations several factors, that may also exist in business negotiations, are always elevated, often to an extreme. They are complexity, uncertainty, relationships, egos, and emotions.
Moreover, the entrepreneurial leader needs to negotiate for everything throughout the life of a startup and especially in the very early days, when the future company is just an idea or in the seed stage. On the other hand, when a corporate leader (whether a manager or an executive) is tasked to run a project that brings a new product to the market, for example, that manager will usually be given a budget and a team to work with. The entrepreneur leader continues to negotiate for resources that are beyond his or her control throughout the life of a startup. He or she will need to sell the “vision” to potential employees who might not get paid in the beginning as the company is being formed, or to negotiate with investors to invest their money in the company that has yet to deliver anything, or to convince the customer to buy a product that does not yet exist from a company that may not even be around a year from now!
As action-oriented leaders, entrepreneurs are constantly on the move. How does this affect negotiations?
Many entrepreneurs are hard-working action-oriented leaders who know how to make quick decisions and move swiftly based on their intuition. Trusting their intuition and instincts has made them successful so far, but there is a danger in that. Some of the habits that made them successful may actually backfire when used at a later stage, once the company has grown. For example, raising money from an angel investor is a very different process of negotiation than the one used with a later-stage venture capital firm. Some entrepreneurs will make the mistake of working alone without seeking enough advice, while others will make the mistake of compromising too quickly, without exploring how to create more value, so that they can go back to doing what they prefer such as developing a product.
“Some of the habits that make entrepreneurs successful in the beginning may backfire when used at a later stage.” -Samuel Dinnar
Every year, Gallup publishes a survey listing the most-to-least trusted professions. As you might guess, bringing up the bottom of the list are members of Congress – and car sales people. Todd Caponi, a self-professed nerd for sales methodology, had a revelation that he felt so passionately about that he left his role as a chief revenue officer of a high-flying tech company to write about it.
It’s a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Service-oriented leaders will celebrate Todd’s approach to honesty and transparency. Not only did I enjoy his philosophy, I was pleased to see a common friend, Jeff Rohrs, was one of the earliest supporters of the book. That grabbed my attention even more.
I asked Todd to discuss how using unexpected honesty and understanding the buying brain will change the profession for the better.
“Transparency is the risk, authenticity the currency, and trust is the reward.” -Dr. Mani
How has sales changed with the advent of the internet, email marketing, and changing consumer expectations?
Since the beginning of time, buyers have sought answers to their brain’s desire to predict what their experience is going to be when making an unfamiliar purchase. “Will this wheel help me move my stuff more effectively, and is it worth the cost of three chickens?” “Will this sliced bread machine save me enough time to make up for the price I’m paying in terms of dollars and potential lost fingers?” For uncounted years, the primary source of information for a buyer to satisfy their predictive need was provided by the individual and company selling the products themselves.
Beginning with the advent of the Information Age in the mid 1970’s, followed by the Digital Age in the 1990’s, the way sellers provide value to buyers in their quest to predict their experience changed dramatically. Buyers now had other sources to gather information, so their expectations changed – simply because they were now better armed. With the digital age, buyers could now self-diagnose their pains and self-prescribe the solution to those pains without the aid of sellers. The good news is that human beings are not great at self-diagnosis and self-prescription. This is why websites like WebMD did not put doctors out of business, and why the internet has not and will not put sellers out of business either. In each case, it required a professional evolution, and those evolutions are not stopping.
“Transparency sells better than perfection.” -Todd Caponi