Zig number 3 requires yet another shift in mindset.  In Zig number 1 you are doing everything, and you are working hard.  In zag number 2, you become the head cheerleader, and you are defining processes.  Zig number 3 requires deliberate planning.  It is very cerebral. It is the academic part.  It’s a shift that is hard for many people to go through.  Working hard and working cerebral don’t always go well together unless you consciously acknowledge these two forces and plan the expenditure of your energy accordingly. 

As you shift to your cerebral effort, you are standing back from the minutia, analyzing it, and determining what little levers you could flip that would have significant impact.  In other words, you’re deliberately thinking, “If I do such and such to the business, then we can accomplish this.”  Up until now, your efforts have been all about action.  Now you’re looking for ways to maximize the work being done, and for ways to shift your work to others.

One of my recent ventures involved building an email list of several thousand subscribers.  That’s not a huge number, but for this particular niche we had amassed a sizeable database.  We had gone about building this list in a hundred or more different ways.  We tried one thing, and if it failed, we tried another.  We worked fast and we worked hard, which meant we didn’t always refine our efforts to the point of perfection.  In fact, in many cases we settled for “good enough.”  This is what my friend meant when he said he was “Striving for mediocrity.”

After we had built our email database to what we determined was our critical mass, we set about to craft the pitch that had always been our endgame.  We had one chance—an email blast that, if people responded, would bring us the success we had been building toward.

At this point, our strategy shifted from action to considerable thought.  “Good enough” no longer was.  Whereas early on we had thrown together things that took literally minutes, we now spent hours and hours on this one pitch, running our final effort through layers of strategic review and approval.

I can’t tell you exactly where you’ll need to expend your cerebral capital.  What I can do is encourage you to carve out time to step back, get away, and do the thinking that will identify where you can focus, refine, add resources, create processes, and move toward the scale that will create value whether you’re in the office or enjoying the fruits of your efforts.

I can also tell you this.  I have had very little success getting to a scale component when I’m in a crisis or in a reactionary mode.  I’m great at solving problems, but I am lousy at coming up with new ideas when I am in that task-oriented, problem-solving mindset.  Find time to get away to a relaxed, calm atmosphere when you’re generating ideas for how to scale your business.  I have had enough ideas come while I am on the golf course to justify my green fees for the next ten or twenty years.