Rule #279: It is never too late to avoid a mistake.
Leadership Expert introduces guest blogger and published author Neil Senturia in the following post:
Momentum is a big idea. Known as the Big Mo, it powers sports teams and individuals. It is Newton’s second law of physics. The law says a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion UNLESS THE BODY IS COMPELLED TO CHANGE ITS STATE.
So here is a story. My partner in a deal was closing a big loan on a commercial property. There have been many turns and twists, and we were about to take a lousy loan, with lousy terms, in a format known as a CMBS– collateralized mortgage backed security. I won’t bore you with the 239 paragraphs on the various deal points in this loan that are the equivalent of Punji stakes in Vietnam. Step on one, and you are dead.
My partner and I went out for coffee. And it became clear that there was a better alternative that meant giving up the path we were on. He commented, “We are on the five-yard line, we probably ought to just push it across and close.”
My opinion was the exact opposite. We are ONLY on the five-yard line which meant we have not yet gone into the end zone, so we still had time to call another play. In other words, even though we were almost there, I asked why would we want to end up where we don’t want to be just because it is the path of least resistance.
Remember, the above law says “unless a body is compelled to change its state” — in other words, unless some outside force acts on the body and changes the rules of the game.
This is a big idea. We all are faced with the path of least resistance. It is why sometimes you get married and two years later, you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” Well, her mother, and I thought maybe we could change the other thing, and we had already sent out the invitations and her father would have been angry, etc.
In fact, a key entrepreneurial leadership principle is: you must be willing to “stop the presses and re-plate.” Now my partner is wickedly smart. I mean really smart! But he had gotten himself into a box, and it took an outsider’s point of view– from an observer like myself– to point out that the web that he was in, while a bit tight, was not unbreakable. He could maneuver. He did not have to cross into the end zone. He could change the state that the deal was in.
And so, the end of the story is that we went to another lender and did the deal in two weeks on perfect terms. If you ask, why didn’t we do that initially, well that is another story. J
And here is another important truth. Big bad messes do not come from one big bad decision. They come from a dozen little bad decisions with each one compounding on the next. And in the end you ask— how did I get into this mess?
And that is why ‘rational man’ decision making is a key skill for the entrepreneur.
Neil Senturia is the author of I’m There for You Baby, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Galaxy (http://www.imthereforyoubaby.com), which is about the success, failure, joy, pain and rejection that he has experienced during the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial life and the lessons-rules-that he’s learned and how they apply to all of our lives. Neil has re-invented himself several times in his relentless pursuit of entrepreneurial success. Currently he is the CEO of Blackbird Ventures, an investor in high growth potential companies. Neil’s diverse endeavors range from writing sitcoms to technology with a stint as a real estate developer in the middle. He has been CEO of six technology companies, three in software, one in material science, one in media and most recently clean tech. His companies have been sold to Cisco, Kofax and Lockheed Martin. And no bio is complete without noting that one of the six went broke.