August 30th, 2022, represents a landmark milestone for The Innovation Garage. Ten years in business. Ten years since stepping out into the unknown and starting something.
In contemplating what to write about for the tenth anniversary, this article is written with a specific intent—sharing what we are learning and answering some FAQs about the journey. Many attendees have been asking these questions in client sessions, large groups, and individual discussions. One of the best ways to provide the answers is to write about them.
As a long-form reflection, this article also represents a celebration of effort. We share outcomes of the elements in our ideal design and what we continue to learn each day.
Shared later in this article series, you will find a top-ten list that is pressure tested in the real world, even after ten years in business. The Innovation Garage assembled this “top 10” learning list based on thousands of conversations—and hundreds of cups of coffee. Advice from close, trusted colleagues you might not know. As well as wise sages and influencers that you may have heard of at some point. In capturing this insight here, it might be that you have heard it all before. We are hopeful you will pick up some new context and insights that will be helpful.
We share these learnings, backstories, and what we consider as True North Principles. When designing your ideal adventure, use the lessons learned as pin drops to your roadmap of very own Hero’s Journey. Consider this a helpful traveler’s guide for your own experience. If you are looking for encouragement in finally taking that “big leap of Faith” for yourself, use these learnings as fuel.
As we now pass this ten-year “valley of death,” it is valuable to look back for a bit. With a business model understood yet continuously evolving, it’s an excellent time to reflect and capture the immense learnings and experiences from the last ten years.
What elements are critical in designing a business for the long haul?
Playing the long game regarding a time horizon is essential too. What might the next twenty or twenty-five years look like if I do this?
If you spend any time listening to the so-called “business gurus,” they will tell you that there are just a few valleys of death in business—the one-year, two-year, and five-year mark. The statistics say that most companies will fail after three years. 50% of businesses fail after five years, and 66% yield after ten years. The average survival rate of firms with a decade or more of business under their belts is 34.4%. So, maybe about three in ten chances of surviving beyond that. Many statistics indicate that only 25% of enterprises will last for 15 years or more.
So, why on earth would you risk starting something that, in the long run, only one in four businesses (just 25%) will ever see or experience?
You start because you want to see what will happen if you take the leap. The real payback is much more about the experiences you are having and are grateful to have. The reality is that there are multiple valleys of death. It’s your job to do your best, move through the ups and downs, and keep pressing forward. There are many ways the storms can come. It is incumbent on you to be in a position to be overly surprised by what may come.
Three design elements we try to anchor to each day help us do just that. Specifically, in our design, we have three parts:
Faith, Learning, and Gratitude. Each is an integral component of our ideal design.
In this specific article we focus on the importance of learning and owning your time.
Why is learning and owning your time essential?
The next part of our design includes learning and owning time as critical elements. And in designing your adventure, including a method to own your time is essential.
Time is the one thing in life that you cannot manufacture. If you waste it, you will never get it back. When creating the idealized design for your life, think deeply about the concept of owning your time. Owing your time gives you the necessary space for yourself to learn and improve. It also permits an ability to make space for others. You can actively make time to learn skills AND improve in the areas where you are intrinsically motivated to do so.
In rewinding the last ten years, the amount of learning experiences on this path represents exponential increase. There is an exponential increase in available time to learn and for others when compared to a traditional employment role in someone else’s organization.
To learn more about this concept of owning your time, seek out and be fascinated with people that do their own thing and have figured out how to own their time. Throughout your life, if you are open to it, meet with people who are marching to their drummer—speaking with these folks is super interesting. They seem to always be on the outskirts of what everyone else is doing. Seek out these “misfits” and “outcasts” from society. Have a conversation with them. Each time you do this, you will learn how they own their time in their own way.
A pastor colleague helped drive the owning your time concept home. He made an ultimate transition. He was leaving a very comfortable and high paying IT program manager job to pastor a congregation. He gave up everything society says he should do and gave it up for the Lord. He owns his time. He is grateful that he can spend his time on his calling. Optimizing his time in the best way that suits himself and in service to those around him.
Conversely, you can also learn more about owning your time from those that have chosen a more traditional employment path. We all know people holding on to a job they don’t like. People may complain about their job or career and how much of a time drain it is. Folks will justify the struggle in their daily job and glamorize future retirement like some “on the beach” investment fund commercial. You will hear, “If I can only get X more years in here, then I will do what I always wanted to do. “
This “Matrix like” mindset can be at its own peril. Parents, siblings, and friends you know give all their available time and energy to an organization in a role they do not enjoy. Then with a brief call, video conference, or short meeting, they are told they are no longer part of the organization. Perhaps due to a layoff, redundancy, or downsizing. Or, once finally reaching the promised land of retirement, the health of that person or their spouse’s health fails. Be aware that retirement might be only be a marketing construct. A construct that delays the long-term desires of what people really want to do in life by as much as thirty or forty years.
Owning your time helps you to be present and “in the moment” with your tribe. Your tribe might be your family, work colleagues, or the team you lead. Owning your time gives you space for guiding and protecting your tribe. This space helps you do everything you can to ensure the safety and growth of those you care about the most. Owning your time helps you enable as much as possible for your tribe. You can support them to make the most significant dent in their universe as possible. You teach your tribe to guard their joy as leaders, parents, or contributors. You encourage brave and bold choices, even if there is a considerable risk of getting hurt.
Owning your time will provide more value in the long haul than any amount of money.
When you start your ideal design, make sure you have a plan to own your time.
Most creatives like musicians, entertainers, designers, educators, and yes, consultants, are, in their way, striving to design and provide a great user experience. And by participating in the experience, the designer is hopeful that the user truly learns and gains a meaningful outcome. We strive to do the same each day.
Our mission is to Make Things, Make Things Better, and Teach Others.® We will keep on this path of Faith, Learning, and Gratitude and see where it will take us.
And, as Tom Petty encourages, keep running down a dream.
At The Innovation Garage®
We help organizations grow. Providing education, tools, technology, and expert consulting in change management for strategy, innovation, and supply chain. Guiding leaders from startups to the Global Fortune 500 to intentionally self-disrupt their offerings and organizations. Delivering world-class education, tools, and technology on how to craft business operating systems focused on long-term profitable growth.
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