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Embrace Twists and Turns in the Journey
Why “Where Are You Now?” is the Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself

June 2017

Paul Oberschneider is a successful entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and the author of the book, “Why Sell Tacos in Africa?” (Harriman House), which is also available as an e-book on Amazon.

Not many people realize it, but when you board a plane for your vacation or business trip, the pilot may spend as much as 95 percent of a flight off the charted course. Weather, wind and a variety of other factors shift an airplane off its intended flight plan, so it is the pilot’s job to keep re-evaluating the position and making corrections to ensure the plane ultimately lands exactly at its intended destination.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders face exactly the same challenge, because their route to success is never going to be a straight line from A to Z.

I left a career on Wall Street in the late 1980s, and I thought I’d follow the obvious path that everyone else seemed to be taking – I’d go to business school and get an MBA. I thought that would be my most straightforward path to success, but in 1992, I found myself half way around the world in Estonia, where I would begin building businesses that would go on to be valued at more than $200 million.

The truth is, every business journey is inevitably going to have twists and turns along the way. Like a pilot, it is important that an entrepreneur has a clear vision of what their destination looks like in order to ensure that they, and their team, are always working toward the right goal.

Often ignored by busy business leaders, however, is the importance of taking the time to really understand what their current situation looks like, too. I didn’t give it much thought when I started out, but at any given moment, every entrepreneur faces their own unique set of circumstances that will impact the opportunities and challenges they are likely to face.

So, it is vital to keep asking yourself the question “Where are you now?” Here are three actions to take so that, like all the best pilots, you too can constantly revise your path to successfully reach your destination:

1. Realize How Opportunities are Created.
When you’re hungry for success in business the temptation can be to throw all your energy and efforts into forcing things to happen. It is important to remember, however, that often the genuine golden opportunities will only come your way in the right circumstances, regardless of how hard you push.
Sometimes, if your circumstances are not providing the opportunities you need, you may need to look at or change some things about your life, thereby changing your circumstances. That might mean reconsidering the resources or skills you have at your disposal, or even reevaluating your location, as I did, making the unusual leap from Wall Street to Estonia.

2. Don’t Sweat the Things You Cannot Control.
While there is value in evaluating your current circumstances, you can also miss opportunities by spending too long scrutinizing every little detail and waiting for the circumstances to be perfect. Procrastination is the enemy of progress.
If you are going to successfully lead a business, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you cannot control anything or anybody except yourself. Once you have come to grips with your circumstances, focus on your own responses and what you personally can do to make positive steps toward your goal.

3. If at First You Don’t Succeed, Readjust.
However difficult things might seem, you must remember that the path from A to Z is never entirely straight forward, so it is inevitable that you are going to make mistakes along the way. OK, something may be stopping your progress now, but you can also explore some different off-piste paths that may work out even better.

Entrepreneurs must be resilient. If something doesn’t work or you have a setback, try something new. The crucial thing is to keep learning as you build so that every time you are wrong, you leave yourself in a better position to make the necessary adjustments until you get the model right. I95