I hear business owners frequently say things like…
“My business never allows me the time I need to do the work I love most. There’s always a launch to do, decisions to make, and things to manage.”
“If I could only hire the right team and automate my sales funnel, I’d finally be able to properly focus on the work that will have the biggest impact.”
I sympathize with these frustrations. I’ve felt them myself even recently.
However, these statements miss the real reason why they are struggling to do their unique-genius work and realize their vision of having bigger reach, influence, and impact as a thought leader at the top of their industry.
Evergreen Sales Funnels, Automated Systems, and a Bigger Team Are Not the Answer
In response to these frustrations, I often see business owners decide they need evergreen sales funnels, automated systems, a more effective team, and productivity hacks to free up their time and energy.
This may sound familiar.
However, the real problem is an unseen force that immediately absorbs any freed up time and energy like a black hole sucking up light.
(And that’s not to mention that even though popular “scaling and automation” strategies might grow your income, they do little to establish you as a top thought leader.)
If this “time and energy black hole” isn’t recognized and dealt with in the right way, you’ll continue to find time to do enough of the unique-genius work and thought-leadership activities required to create a truly distinct and impactful body of work.
The Cause of the Time and Energy Black Hole
Our human mind is wired to seek quick results. As entrepreneurs especially, we crave experiencing wins that provide fuel for our motivation, confidence, and work ethic.
This fuel is of utmost importance to our success. I call this “Efficacy Fuel” because it makes us feel competent and gives us a sense of being in control of our destiny.
As a business owner, you are constantly making decisions about where to invest your time and energy — your most important resources. We are more naturally drawn to dedicating time to things that provide us quick results (i.e. Efficacy Fuel).
Heck, I sometimes take a break in the middle of the day to play a video game just because I get to dependably win — I’m pretty good at it 😉 — and feel a hit of Efficacy Fuel.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting that. It’s a human need.
However, because you occupy two critical roles — business owner and thought leader — inevitably you have to choose how to invest your time and energy into doing the work of each role. Down the road you may be able to hand the business owner reins over to someone else, but for now you’re probably handling both roles out of necessity.
The Thought Leader Dilemma (or One Person, Two Full-Time Roles)
I call this the Thought Leader Dilemma. The way you respond to this dilemma has a significant impact on your long-term success.
The truth is that we will naturally be drawn to doing the business-owner tasks rather than thought-leadership tasks. This might surprise you to hear since you probably wish you had “more time to do the work you love most.”
However, the reality is that, without realizing why, we very often choose to focus on business-owner tasks because they more dependably give you Efficacy Fuel in the form of numbers, dollar signs, a checkmark on a to-do list, or a pat on the back.
On the other hand, thought-leadership tasks have a much more ambiguous payoff. For example, you could spend two hours writing your book and very likely be left with nothing more than a lingering doubt as to whether anyone will care at all about what you’ve written.
Eventually, this unique-genius work might produce recognition, gratitude, feelings of confidence, and proof that you’ve had an impact, but these things show up much further down the road. As a result, it requires a lot of faith to invest energy into these activities and wait for the deferred results.
When faced with a choice between an immediate concrete payoff and a deferred ambiguous result, the former will win almost every time. As a result, thought-leadership (unique-genius) tasks get put off until someday later along with the opportunities and results that they would eventually generate for you.
This leaves you with a frustration that you never have time to do the work you love most. You’re left with the feeling that there must be something more than the daily hustle and brush fires you deal with in your role as a business owner.
You’re left wondering why your big vision and desire to make a big change in the world keep moving farther away, always beyond your reach like the horizon seen from a ship in the middle of the ocean.
We blame the problem on things like daily brush fires, a pressure to hustle, or a need to maintain cash in the bank because it seems that is what’s happening on the surface.
Yet in a very real way, the part of you that wants fast payoffs and the part of you that wants to have a long-term impact are competing inside of you all the time. No wonder it gets so exhausting and frustrating!
Once You’re Aware, Then What?
What is the answer? Once we are aware of this “black hole” force, how do we escape the pull of its gravity?
For this to change, we first have to realize that we give away our time and energy to the business-owner tasks because they feel safer; they give us the Efficacy Fuel that we crave and need right now just to keep going.
We’ve worked with numerous thought leaders and business owners to help them overcome this dilemma in a way that is effective and feels authentic.
With a few key shifts in their work and how they make strategic decisions, they are able to attend to all the vital business-owner tasks while also giving attention to the thought-leader activities that will ultimately realize the big vision they want most. Not only that, they derive far more Efficacy Fuel (i.e. motivation, confidence, clarity, and fulfillment) and results on a daily basis from the things they choose to spend their time on.