defending your fire

How many of you treat your business as something you must defend from all attackers?

Hang on, I’ll backtrack a little here.

I’ve spent much of this week considering an experience I recently had. The actual experience is secondary to the thoughts it left me with. Why, I’ve wondered all week, are some people receptive to change while others are not? It has stuck with me and I’ve probably spent more time on it than I should have.

But it led me to this: in my head I see two kinds of business people. Bear with me as I take you through this…

Imagine a cave person crouched in a defensive stance in front of his fire. Now imagine, just outside the light of the fire are a number of other cave people. They are not threatening our cave person, or his fire, they are simply there, not even really interested – just there.

In this situation, the cave person is defending his fire. There is no actual threat, merely a perceived threat on his part. He is convinced these others are going to try to take his fire. No matter what these others do, no matter how non-threatening they are, he defends his fire.

Now imagine the opposite. Our cave person has fire and he is alone with that (just like our first cave person). He sees other cave people, who are not threatening, nor leaving the area of his fire. In fact, some of them even start their own fires. Our cave person realizes he cannot simply defend his fire – he must look for food, he must rest, and he must find fuel to keep his fire burning. So he invites others to join him at his fire and they take turns building it up, looking for food and fuel, and resting.

In turn, each of these other cave people tends their own fire. They share the knowledge of where the best firewood is and where the animals run. They work together, maintaining their own fires, but ensuring the survival of all.

Who survives?
Who doesn’t?

In this simple scenario, the answer is obvious. What might not be obvious is how many of us defend our businesses like they are that first fire. How many of you live in fear of another person stealing your fire? A lot, I would bet.

And so I am grateful for this week, for feeling challenged and misunderstood in my intention. I have come to realize those who are compelled to defend their fire are blinded by fear. They are unwilling to change because, so far, it has worked for them. Until they get hungry or their fuel runs out. Then what?

In a roundabout way, I think I have found the clarity to forge ahead. Those who wish to adapt, to change, to develop creatively, and to build businesses that will thrive long term have learned to share fire. It is that group, in my opinion, that will have the tools to move forward and build something that gives them the life they want. They are the creative thinkers and the dreamers, they are the ones who can take information and use, or not use, it in a way that benefits them. They are not compelled by fear.

You can open yourself to change, to community, to the conversation…

…Or you can defend your fire.