As a small business owner, you have one foot in the future and one foot in the the present: building your firm for the future, while serving the needs of the present. The difference between the two worlds is the gap: the space between where you are and where you’ll be. If you let that gap grow too big while your feet are straddling it…well, I think you get the picture.
In some ways, that gap is what defines an entrepreneur. They see the difference between the world how it is and how it can be. It’s an internal cognitive dissonance, a type of itch, that they reach out to scratch.
What can happen nowadays, though, is that so much innovation comes at us, that the volume of cognitive dissonance grows too loud (anyone out there felt it?). There’s a difference between a music level that’s motivating, and a music level that’s inhibiting, or even downright crushing.
That’s why I’d like to suggest that the way to drink from the proverbial firehose is to not: the truth is, we can only drink from a stream. We either choose our stream, or we get pummeled and disoriented by the firehose.
The key is honing in on the signal within the noise, adjusting our tuners. Before, we were limited by the amount of data we could gather — data was the limiting constraint. But nowadays we’re limited by our attention capacity — data is abundant, and attention is the limiting constraint. As a result, we begin to discover the fallacy of the principle that more data will produce a better decision. In reality, there’s a point after which more data, is just more data.
The signal we’re looking to hone in on is the one related to the next step we’re trying to take. And just like drinking from a firehose, the reality of taking steps, is that you can only take one at a time. We’re gonna have to accept that — you don’t get to take two steps at a time, just one.
So identify that step, gather data, stop gathering data, take that step, and here’s the important part: ignore everything else. Everything else will stop you from taking that step. Everything else will flood your brain and paralyze it. Everything else will zap your attention so none is left for the step. Everything else is just noise and not signal, excess cognitive dissonance and not flow — choose flow.
Flow comes from creating small gaps, then closing them. Be aware of your cognitive dissonance, and use it to your advantage, and not disadvantage: let it surround one step at a time, and no more.
Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. After working as an auditor out of college for KPMG, he joined his father in public practice in 2002, and now acts as the Chief Creative Designer there. With the team, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so that they can focus on what truly matters in life. Adrian likes tech, uses a fountain pen, successfully attempted a half-marathon (and may try another), and prefers dark over milk chocolate.