Obsession overcomes obstacles

Jun 11, 2023

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To have extraordinary success, you need to make an extraordinary effort and have your full attention on the business.

I get that not everyone wants to work all of the time. Or even just be connected to an electronic tether and able to respond at a moment’s notice. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that is the best recipe for maintaining all of your personal relationships – particularly with a spouse or significant other. That said, it sure helps make you successful if you are an owner of an AEC firm in your first 20 or so years of business, or a firm that is having some difficulties.

Obsession overcomes all obstacles. To have extraordinary success, you need to make an extraordinary effort. You have to have your full attention on the business.

Most people won’t do it. They quickly have a family and then other priorities take over. I’m not saying I don’t fully understand that. I have been there, too, where it was essential I spent more time with my family and less time on my businesses. I have a great relationship with my wife, and my kids (at least those who are adults) all turned out to be successful, responsible, productive members of society who are independent and have their own families. We had some tough things to get through and we did it. I’m proud of that. It may be the best thing I have done with my life.

That said, those periods of my history where the family and personal needs took all of my attention caused my businesses to suffer. We all only have so much time and so much mental and physical energy. I have a lot of both (time and mental energy) because I am good at a few things. One of those is picking people. In any business I owned in full or in part, there were always obsessed people I could count on who came through with outstanding results. I was a good recruiter and I tried to be quick with rewards and recognition to keep them going. So when I wasn’t obsessed, someone else was. That helped.

The other thing I have done a pretty good job with is getting out of everything I don’t like to do or am not good at. That is a skill one can develop over time. Every single time – and I mean every time – I freed up my time by either delegating or abdicating something helped me clear the deck for stuff I was glad to do or was good at. Having good people who are obsessed is essential to being able to do that, along with not being a control freak.

The last thing I was good at was switching gears. We all hear about how so many kids these days have ADD or ADHD, and that’s a “disability.” I call B.S. on that one. Most of the truly successful people I know would probably be diagnosed with it. It doesn’t just go away as you become an adult. But it’s a plus in business, not a negative. It means you can probably spin a lot of plates in the air at once, and we all know that is an essential skill to have today.

Everyone has a different recipe for success, and a different way of creating time and mental energy for whatever it is that’s important to them. But no one will convince me that being obsessed with your business isn’t going to increase your odds of success in business. My best client relationships – many of which morphed into personal relationships – were with other obsessed people. And they still are. One of our Hot Firm CEOs is a great example. He texted me at 6:02 a.m. last week and wanted to talk on the phone. I love that. We had a great call and he is achieving some fantastic results that will make him incredibly wealthy and create tremendous opportunities for everyone in his firm.

I recently got involved with a young company outside of the AEC industry. Their two primary owners are obsessed. We have many, many business hurdles to overcome, but that obsession will allow us to overcome them all. It bonds us together and keeps our focus on what we need to do. I would not put my time and money into any business where the owners weren’t obsessed with it. Sorry if you don’t agree with me.

So how obsessed are you right now? Is your attention and thinking where it should be to make your business all it can be? And if not, how can you find and get people on board who are obsessed so you can free up more of your time? This is important stuff to be thinking about in these uncertain times. 

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.