All Or Nothing vs. Management

Some things are best done with an all or nothing mentality.  Management isn’t one of them.

Getting startup off the ground, picking and finishing a creative project, or being a solopreneur all benefit from either total engagement or total disengagement.  Black and white decisions made entirely by you or entirely by someone else.  It cuts through the crap and makes progress possible.

Management is different.  If you go all-in and do everything yourself or micromanage every decision, you’re limited to what’s in your personal capacity.  If you go all out and delegate with abandon, abdicate responsibility, and offer little guidance, lots of individual things get done faster, but not necessarily in the same direction, like ropes tugging at different angles.

This is a challenge.  My default settings are either do it myself, or hire someone to do it and not think about it again.  I can see it with my kids.  Sometimes they want help making eggs or building LEGO.  The subtle art of working with people, rather than working for them or having them work for you, takes patience and insight.  I can tell you how to make eggs easy enough.  I can make eggs easy enough.  But actively guiding from beginning to end, interjecting only lightly and when asked or needed, that’s tough.  It feels inefficient.  Couldn’t one of us be doing this?  Wouldn’t it be better to each do different things?  Aren’t two things at 90% better than one at 98%?

Not always.

As I mentioned yesterday, I prefer to play to strengths than shore up weaknesses.  The all or nothing mindset is a strength.  But it taps out pretty quickly beyond a certain scale.  It’s not so much about working on a weakness, it’s more about developing an entirely new skill called management.  It’s a skill nobody just has.  It can only be learned once you’re in a position where it’s needed to get you to the next level.  You have to reach your personal productivity ceiling.  Then you actually need to work with others.  It’s not about curbing the all or nothing mindset, just building a new one for new circumstances.

My brother once told me a CEO has only three priorities: Money, talent, and vision.  Money and vision are best served with an all or nothing approach.  Talent requires something totally different.

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