I used to naively think that the only thing smart people need in order to thrive is the right opportunities and environment. Today I know better. Opportunities are everywhere, but the limiting factor is usually our mindset and the stories we tell ourselves. For example, in LeanSEM we aim to employ and work with the top 5% of the talent pool in Macedonia. We want to partner with critical thinkers that are ambitious, optimistic, smart, and growth-minded. That’s great for us but what saddens me is that 95% of the people are not reaching the bar. Why is that? Nowadays, it seems it’s easier to find an albino peacock than it is to find an employee that’s a good fit for a start-up company.
The main reason why? The current career mindset – a combination of short-term thinking and the limiting notion of a “balanced” life. Let’s peel the onion…
What do I mean by short-term thinking?
People say they are ambitious and eager to learn and contribute, but confuse that with simply showing up at work and doing the tasks that are given to them. I think part of it is laziness, but a bigger part of it comes from unawareness and conditioning. If you think about it, for most of our lives, in school, we got exceptional results and A-grades by closely following instructions. There is also the fact that our brains are not wired to think long-term. That’s why get-rich-quick schemes are always in high demand. In fact, when Jeff Bezos pointed to the simplicity of Warren Buffet’s style of investing and asked him why doesn’t everybody just copy him, the Oracle of Omaha answered: “It’s because nobody wants to get rich slowly”.
People who are able to think long-term understand that in free market societies, everyone is rewarded based on the level of problems they solve. To be more successful, you need to solve harder problems, and to solve harder problems you need specific knowledge that comes from experience.
Experience is also a tricky concept that many associate with time. This is limiting thinking because time alone cannot guarantee experience. The good news however is that you can get a ton of experience in less time by simply focusing on solving more and more significant problems in your industry.
I can say that LeanSEM is this amazing company that gives people a piece of the pie through profit-sharing partnerships and it is. But, it all started with me. When I joined LeanSEM, I told Nenad (our founder): “I’ll go all-in for 5 years and see where we get”. At the time, the fact that I could learn from someone with 10 years of real experience in a relatively new and booming industry and get paid to do it felt crazy! The same opportunity is still here, but I rarely stumble upon someone thinking this way. Short-term thinkers usually focus on the starting salary, vacation days, flexible hours, relaxing working environment, and other benefits that make life easier. I don’t dismiss the value of those things and in fact, respect that. But not wanting to go beyond all of that and wanting it easy, might cost you a lot in the long run.
Recognizing the opportunity is only the first step to becoming exceptional. Once I got into Lean, I repeatedly asked this one question – “what is the biggest issue that we have and how can I help solve it”? Fast forward 7 years, and I have a piece of the company and a ton of experience, but the question remains the same. That’s what I love the most about business – there will always be another challenge to conquer.
Is there a “balanced” life?
There is no right or wrong in how we balance out our lives. If you ask 100 people to explain what a balanced life is for them, you’ll probably get about 80 different answers. Everyone should be real with who they are and what they want out of life. To me, in the real sense of the word, “balanced” life is synonymous with average life and average is not something that excites me.
Let’s take health for example. With a balanced diet and exercise, I will have good, but average health. Now, why would I want average health? I want to have the best health possible! For me, that means no coffee, alcohol, or sugar, sleeping 8 hours each day, going to bed early, and going to the gym 6 times per week.
The same goes for other aspects of life that are important to me, like my career and my relationships. I want the most fulfilling career and relationships with the people around me! But what is balanced for me might be crazy for someone else. As I mentioned above, you need to know yourself and find your “balance”.
The one note I want you to take from this is…
It’s important to realize that we can have anything we want but not everything we want. There are some hard choices and trade-offs that need to be made in order to be exceptional at anything. And I think we can all get there by extending our time horizon and chase not balanced, but a life of growth and abundance.
If you have a passion for digital marketing and you see yourself as part of our team – check out our open positions 😉