Before the start of the school year, I spent an intentional couple of days away with Dotted Line’s leadership team in the West Virginia mountains. We talked proactively about the health of our business, what’s coming up for our team in the next few years, and some current challenges. The good news is that the business is healthy and growing, and we have exciting opportunities on the horizon. Much of our conversation focused on the complexity facing our team right now. As a positive consequence of that growth, we’re aggressively staffing up, refining processes, and working hard to preserve our core, our mission and values – all at the same time.
I invest a lot of time speaking with and listening to other founders and business owners, learning the practices and tools that can enable our growth while making it as painless as possible for everyone involved. As I chatted with a friend recently, he mentioned a story about buffaloes and cows in Colorado.
For those that don’t know, Colorado is divided almost exactly in half by the Rocky Mountains. The western part of the state is the mountains, and the east part is the Plains. Because of this unique geography and landscape, this rare spot has both buffaloes and cows living together. As a storm builds from the west and spills over the Plains toward the wildlife, the cows and buffaloes respond very differently. In their lumbering way, the cows walk away from the storm, which prolongs how long they’re in the storm and maximizes the amount of pain, time, and frustration they experience from the wind and rain. The buffaloes take a different approach. They wait for the storm to roll over the ridge, and then turn and charge directly into the storm. By running into the storm, the buffaloes run straight through it, minimizing their pain, time, and frustration.
It’s the same storm, but their experience is wildly different.
In life, we will always have storms. At Dotted Line, we’re constantly trying new things. One thing I love about our culture is that we’re not afraid of complexity or storms. Maybe we have a struggle with a client. Or a difficult conversation with a team member. Or a new idea that could revolutionize how we do service but could be difficult to implement.
Procrastinating on a problem usually amplifies the pain. But when we address it head on, we’re more apt to act with greater intention. This week, I’m working hard to be mindful of which direction I’m running when faced with a storm. How can our team be like buffaloes and charging into a storm? And how can you and your team live that spirit?