Overcoming Fear By Understanding The “Jenga Tower Mindset”

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I hope you’re doing well today. I just wanted to talk about a really unique stage in a business’s life and some things to think about that from a business owner’s perspective.

Survival Mode Is Easy

So in the early stages of business things are pretty straightforward. You’re just a wartime CEO and the goal is – don’t die. You know. Don’t let the business stop existing.

And because of that, it’s kind of easy to pick out what to do next. Like what is the thing that will put dollars in my bank account or minimize risks and allow me to keep operating?

But eventually, over time you know if you’re doing things well and you’re kind of having some sight of the future you get to a stage where you’re out of this process. And now the panic isn’t so much set in and you’re having to pick out what to do next.

The Jenga Tower

And there’s a unique problem that happens here where you become very fearful.

I like to use the analogy here of this Jenga Tower that you have built up and you get kind of nervous that you don’t want to touch any of the blocks. You’re really afraid if you touch one thing the whole tower falls over and then you’re back into that sort of panic frantic mode and that you’ll never be able to build it back again.

And this is a stage that’s really critical for business owners because you can get really stuck here in fear and it’s a giant problem.

(The thought process behind it makes some sense. I mean you want to make sure that you’re not always just tweaking and moving things and non-stop so that you never have any stability where you’re knocking your tower over every day. That’s not a way to long-term goals).

But a lot of times there’s this kind of inflection point where you get out of that panic mode like I don’t want to go back there.

Rewriting How You Really Got To Where You Are

There’s a unique problem that happens here along with that. Let’s say you rewrite the past. What happens is you look back on how you got to where you are and you really decide “You know what? How I got to where I am was… I sat in my chair and I thought these really smart thoughts. Then I went out in the world and I did these things step by step by step and I achieved just like I thought I would and I’m so smart and that’s how I got to where I am.”

But if you actually, you know, went in a time travel machine and talked to the “you” of the past, what you’d really tell yourself was… “No that’s not how it happened Lucas. You know, you were directionally correct. You kind of had an idea of where you wanted to go and then you headed that way
and then you made lots of mistakes, ran into lots of problems, found lots of solutions. Some worked, some didn’t and eventually you survived your way to that step.”

Well, it turns out that’s actually the only way to move forward. There is no sitting back and thinking of a painless, flawless way that works every time to step forward.

How Did You Get To Where You Are?

And that’s the problem with this kind of Jenga tower mentality is whenever you sit there and you think “well I don’t want to pull any blocks out unless I know for sure pulling this block out won’t break anything and then it will fit perfectly in this next spot.” That you could never actually have that certainty. And so you get really stuck and stifled in this spot.

The other thing tied in with that is it’s a really disempowering belief. You know, if you believed if you were to knock down your Jenga Tower that you cannot rebuild it – that’s a giant problem!

That means that you feel that maybe you’ve got to where you are by luck or other mechanisms and not by your own skills. So if that’s the case it’s even more important for you to be making these changes in these adjustments to your systems and your processes and how you operate because that’s how you’re gonna get that really deep feeling for how your business works and the levers you pull!

The Black Box

You see if a machine is a black box that means that you don’t know what happens inside it. You know to me I like a Wi-Fi router is a black box. And I have some general idea that internet comes in from the wall and then it’s transmitted to other devices through this, but I don’t really know the actual mechanisms inside that make that work. It’s a black box.

And so if it were to stop working all I can do is throw the whole thing out the window and buy a new one probably. With your business that can be the same thing as you can kind of end up in a spot where you don’t really know how your business works.

You don’t really know what your unique selling proposition is.

Why people buy from you versus someone else.

You don’t who your best clients are.

You don’t know why they love you more than they love other things.

You don’t know the most efficient way to do what it is that you do.

And whenever you don’t know those things it’s really hard to make adjustments. And so the more that you stay in that frozen state of “I don’t want to touch anything” now you’re really up to the whims and you don’t have control over your destiny.

The more that you dive in deep and say “you know what. I’m trying to be smart I don’t want to just yank yank blocks out left and right or then the
whole thing collapses. I may be smart about it. I’m gonna try to do ones that have a low risk of failure but I’m not gonna be too afraid to play with some different elements because I know even if it doesn’t improve things, I will learn more about how this works.”

So whenever you figure that stage out that’s what enables that next level of growth. You know you’re out of that panic mode. Some of your basic needs are being met. Now you’re into figuring out that growth.

So I hope those thoughts help you think through things.

Coronavirus Based Systems Flexibility

I actually think that this sort of virus issue has been very helpful for a lot of business owners to realize all the ways that their thinking had gotten really sort of set in stone and that they figured out “oh I can have some employees work from home – my business still operates. I could offer more digital-friendly services.”

In this way, it’s really opened up their ideas, their minds to new things that they wouldn’t have tried as much before and I just wanted to highlight that nimbleness of thinking.

Seasoned Mechanics

And that resilience and pursuit of what you’re trying to do are so important. And to not be totally terrified to touch things within your system eventually you’ll end up like a seasoned mechanic. You know if a car breaks down you know that you’ll figure out how to fix it. I mean it might be a complex problem and take lots of time and you might guess wrong a few times, but you know you’ll figure it out.

And within your business, you have to get that level of knowing how things work to really keep proceeding. It’s not good enough to get lucky and feel like you’ve made it there based on luck.


So just some quick thoughts.

Hopefully they help you get unstuck.

Think about what are some of the blocks that you have taken for granted that you will never touch in your business and what actual steps are you taking to make your future better on a day to day basis?


Have a great rest of your day. Good luck!