Be a Fire Starter

Fire Starting!
Fire Starting!

“If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.” — David Viscott

Are you a Fire Starter?

Fire Starters bring ideas to life.  What if the Fire Starter in you is strong and it’s only you or your schedule holding you back?

Let’s do a quick check …

Do you eat the status quo for breakfast?   Do you breathe new life into old ideas?  When the chips are down, do you bring out your resourceful best?

What if you could generate new ideas out of thin air?  What if you could inspire yourself and others to go for big, bold bets?  What if you could be the catalyst that turns the world on its head and breaks away from the pack into blue sky possibilities and blue ocean opportunities.

In the book, The Strategist: Be the Leaders Your Business Needs, Cynthia A. Montgomery shares what it takes to set your inner-Fire Starter free.

Seize the Initiative and Make Things Happen

Pulsating, vibrant strategy is a leadership job.

Montgomery writes:

“Behind every pulsating, vibrant successful strategy is a leader who seized the initiative and made it happen.  Developing and executing strategy with all the necessary dimensions — including the accountability that attends to making decisions with great consequences — is not a function.  It’s a leadership job, and a big one.”

The Fire Starting Must Come from You

Unbridle your brilliance and unleash what you’re capable of.  Don’t let your schedule be an excuse or hold you back.

Montgomery writes:

“Being a strategist takes drive and initiative, and the willingness and curiosity to ask questions and venture forward.  As bedrock important as strategy is to the long-term success of a firm, you might think that investors, boards of advisors, even those working in a firm would keep it uppermost in a leader’s mind.  Unfortunately, the opposite is too often true; parties you’d think would be clamoring for more settle for less, especially if a business’s numbers are reasonably good.  The commitment and passion — the fire starting — for this work must come from you.

But leaders themselves, and their own schedules, are often part of the problem.”

Dream an Idea Into Existence

Dream an idea into existence and transform it into a concrete intention.

Montgomery writes:

“Find the time and the courage to address strategy is a constant challenge for most leaders.  Sure, you know you need to work on strategy now and then, and you recognize that your management team needs it.  But you’re the one who has to make space for it and that rarely is easy.  ‘Managers who get caught up in the trap of overwhelming demands become prisoners of routines,’ wrote Heike Bruche and Sumantra Ghoshal, in A Bias for Action.  ‘They do not have time to notice opportunities.  Their habituated work prevents them from taking the first necessary step toward harnessing willpower: developing the capacity to dream an idea into existence and transforming it into a concrete intention.’”

Don’t Let the Urgent Consume You

The things that need our attention the most, often get it the least.

Montgomery writes:

“Stephen Covey’s celebrated distinction between urgent and important activities helps us understand, in part, why this is so.  Too often people are consumed by activities that are urgent but not important — interruptions, many day-to-day activities, and common fires every manager faces.  What suffers are endeavors that are important but not urgent: building organizational capabilities, nurturing long-term relationships, and developing viable strategies.”

Break Free from the Status Quo

Doing what is new isn’t easy.  And that’s why most people don’t do it.

Montgomery writes:

“Beyond competing demands and the adrenaline rush that comes with constant activity, there is an even deeper explanation about why many leaders, and many firms, fail to fully engage with strategy: They’re comfortable with the status quo even when it isn’t scintillating.  Schumbpeter warned long ago that most people are content with keeping things the way they are.  Richard Swedberg, a Schumpeter expert, notes that the conservatives nature of people pushes back against innovation, and many leaders themselves resist change: ‘While doing what is familiar is always easy … doing what is new is not.’  Or, as Schumpeter said, ‘The whole difference between swimming with the stream and against the stream is to be found here.’”

Don’t Accept Reality as It Is

Fire starters don’t just see things as they are.  They see what could be.  And that’s the spark.

Montgomery writes:

“For economic development to flourish, leaders must swim against the stream.  They must step forward and take the initiative, energetically showing the way.  Schumpeter refers to this type of leader as a ‘Man of Action.’ (Mann Der Tat), someone who does not accept reality as it is.  The Man of action, in Swedberg’s interpretation, ‘does not have the same inner obstacles to change as static people or people who avoid doing what is new.  What then drives the man of action?  In contrast to the static person, who goes about his business because he wants to satisfy his needs and stops once his goal has been accomplished, the leader has other sources of motivation.  He charges ahead because he wants power and because he wants to accomplish things …’”

When it’s time to change the game, do you rattle the cage and make some noise?