So you think you’re the model business owner? You seek balance, collaboration creativity, fairness, excellence, passion and preparation? Good for you.
But did you know that these virtues can easily turn into vices that hold your business back from everything you’re envisioning?
This is exactly what Jake Breeden says in his new book Tipping Sacred Cows. I received an advance review copy and was so taken by the topic, that I started reading right away. You have to admit that the premise is rather intriguing: our best intentions turn out to be vices that actually get in the way of our business success.
If you’re a business book junkie like I am, this book is going to spin your head around. I mean, don’t we all want balance in our business and our life? What about working with others and collaborating? How can any of these be bad? How do these aspirational virtues transform themselves into vices that hold us back? And how can I make sure that I don’t end up in the mix?
Anything Taken to its Extreme Becomes its Opposite
There is an ancient philosophy that says anything taken to its extreme becomes its opposite. Tipping Sacred Cows is a study in how this phenomenon plays out in the world of business. It’s not that balance or collaboration are bad per se. The problem arises when business owners and employees make these default behaviors and they become automatic. Then they magically morph into behaviors that can ultimately hold you back and work against you.
I really like the examples and case studies that Breeden uses. They are all the types of people that we know at all levels of business — CEOs, sales people and managers. As you read their stories, you’ll see elements of yourself in each one.
One that resonated with me especially was the story of Anne. Anne worked at a bank and believed in balance. She divided her time equally between clients and prospects. Her boss applauded her balance. Yet, at an event where both clients and prospects attended, her co-worker, Darren, put all his focus on prospects for the event. In the end, he was rewarded with a promotion.
The lesson: Balance is great — but you have to pay attention to how to distribute that balance. Balance your time, but know when you need to tilt the scales to achieve an objective.
Throughout the book, you’ll find exactly these kinds of lessons:
- Balance: A dysfunctional pursuit of balance can lead you to comprises in the face of dilemmas and make unnecessary trade offs in an attempt to seek safety.
- Collaboration: Knowing the when and how of working collaboratively instead of collaborating as a default.
- Creativity: Focusing on your own selfish need to add creativity to the mix to establish a legacy instead of using creativity toward achieving an objective.
- Excellence: High standards can choke progress when you focus on excellence in the process rather than excellence in the outcome.
- Fairness: Blurring the line between a fair chance and a fair result can backfire. If you always place others’ needs before your own, you’ll never accomplish your goals.
- Passion: Caring about one part of your work should make you better at other parts of your work and not be at the expense of them. Seek passion with harmony and not obsession.
- Preparation: Over-preparing can cause you to avoid action or become so invested in what you prepared that you resist change when it’s necessary.
Jake Breeden Has Seen Sacred Cows in Action
Breeden teaches on the faculty of Duke Corporate Education, the world’s top rated provider of executive education. He’s taught leaders in 27 countries for some of the world’s leading companies. I would imagine with that kind of broad and extensive exposure to executives and their strengths and foibles, you can take what he says seriously.
Why Read Tipping Sacred Cows?
Chances are, you’re already focused on being the best business owner or manager or leader that you can be. And you might think that Tipping Sacred Cows is going to trash everything you ever thought you knew about how to be successful. It won’t.
Reading Tipping Sacred Cows will expose you to those areas where you might be living inside of a default behavior. It will open your eyes to blind spots that may be holding you back from real success.
Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Why isn’t this working, when I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing?” Then Tipping Sacred Cows might have the answers you’re looking for.