Open Doors and a Thousand Dropped Balls

Open Doors and a Thousand Dropped Balls

The possibilities are endless if you choose to open up the can. The only thing to consider is that when you pop open the can, you realize there are too many options.

When we have too many options, it’s like walking into a Chinese restaurant and they ask you if you want fried rice, brown rice, white rice, fried brown rice, fried white rice, jasmine rice, steamed rice or just rice? I don't know! I just want rice!

No one can go after every opportunity. Not even Richard Branson. You can't hold 1,000 balls at once, and there are definitely more then 1,000 ideas to be involved in around you—probably even within a 6km radius too.

There are a few ways to deal with the tsunami of open doors and the storm of smiles that tower over strong handshakes and "Let's do something together statements."

Run away. Many people don't create the capacity to handle tons of new relationships or have the discernment to know which open doors to entertain (or not entertain). The default becomes this: focus on what you are good at and the people you are comfortable around.

I don't recommend this option, but it does work for some people. You become buffalo focused, and never unlock your eyes off of what you set out to accomplish. This works if you've got all the funding you need, you’re already helping thousands of kids go to school, your project is well on its way to being a multi-million dollar corporation, and your friends always give you wine and cheese. Even then, I wouldn't suggest this reaction.

Try to please everyone. I have tried to do this before. Everyone you meet for the first time has polished their moves, gestures, callings, and visible motives. It is impossible to go after every new gig and every possible business opportunity without dropping balls. You'll become the emailer machine and your cover will be blown by the third or fourth coffee meeting.

Filter the open doors. I've found that filtering the open doors based on the following criteria helps me to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on what to pursue:

  1. Motive. The real motive. Why is the door not closed already? Who else has gone through the door and what exactly is the reason it's still open? The motive, What exactly is the door is about? Why was it created and what is the end goal?
  2. Context of Relationship. Where did we meet? How did we get to a place where we felt comfortable enough to talk about the open door? If someone introduced you, who was that someone and is he or she a person that is normally good with connecting people? I'd be much more inclined to invest in a relationship that was founded over a common interest other then business or "networking" for more sales.
  3. Body of Work. What’s this person’s track record? And their partners? Do they have successes and failures (both is nice to see)? Are they open and honest about their past? Do they downplay the successes, while telling you what they’ve learned from their failures?
  4. The Fun Factor. Do you enjoy connecting with this person? Is the meal time or tea time easy to discuss and move forward on a project? Or is it like pulling teeth with rusty pliers and no antiseptic? Sheesh, don’t work with people that pull your teeth out, man!

The caution with filtering open doors is that often times through fear you will chose not to connect with someone, or write someone off based on your own biases. If someone comes to you recommended and with good regard, get to know them and give them a open door initially. But don’t jump into a business relationship with just anyone.

(photo via thinredjellies)