The Rite of Passage All Business Leaders Should Undergo

Ken Larson

I often facilitate an exercise with my clients where I break them up into groups. I ask the hard questions, and then urge them to spend time answering individually, privately.

Sometimes, ‘groupthink’ isn’t the answer.

Here’s what this exercise may look like. Follow along, and answer the questions for your own business – you may experience an “aha” moment of your own.

First, brainstorm the top 5 areas of business focus for the coming year.

This can be operational, financial, customer experience, culture, or so on.

Now, using just ONE of those topics, answer these three questions:

  1. What specific part about the topic do you want / need to change?
  2. What end result are you trying achieve within a year?
  3. What action do you need to apply to the area to get the results you want?

From your answers, we’d form a one sentence statement that captures those 3 components.

This statement will tell us:

  • What the initiative is
  • What it looks like a year from now
  • and what can be done today (first steps)

Voila. Upon completion of answering and identifying those three questions and forming that singular business statement, you’ve completed the rite of passage I think every business professional and executive should undergo.

There is one thing no business coach in the world can teach a person, no matter how adept, and that’s experience.

I can coach until I am blue in the face. I could write step-by-step novels on how to achieve success. But TELLING someone how to do something is quite different than them ACTUALLY doing / achieving it themselves.

And that’s the beauty in experience. Letting go of holding someone’s hand, truly digging in, falling on your face, failing, and failing again – these are like dues that are paid to an exclusive club, the experience club.

Paying them, really rolling up your sleeves and wading through the hard stuff – whether it be a tough question, a goal, a problem, a challenge – is a rite of passage.

You’ve gotta pay those dues. You have to fail. You have to struggle. You have to feel exhausted and defeated.

But you have to not give up, and instead, figure out what works for your company. And when you finally do, you’re closer to the success you’ve been fighting so hard to achieve. You’re closer to your goal.

It’s an “aha” moment one must experience themselves to fully have the breakthrough needed to succeed – in any area of life – be it personal, emotional, professional, and so on.

When this happens, an individual or group’s level of thinking is entirely elevated. New energy is generated. The motivation to tackle the ‘okay, what’s next?’ is instilled. The confidence to go after that, as well as the resources and method to do so are now more evident.

As a coach, my tactic is to nudge people into these altering experiences where they learn and grow, as opposed to trying to give them the advice, and hold their hand while showing them the way.

In doing so, individuals of a team are confident in their own convictions and ideas, without being persuaded by the more outspoken thinkers, or risk takers within a group.

When that breakthrough happens, teams are stronger, both individual members and thinkers in their own roles, and as a company unit.

They’ve paid their dues, but most importantly, they’ve successfully completed this very important rite of passage: experiencing and overcoming trials and tribulations individually, and successfully navigating them as a group.