“A moment came that stopped me on a dime,” Tim McGraw sings in “Live Like You Were Dying.”
That moment for me was early in the evening of August 31, 2017. My wife Julie and I had just attended “Meet the Teacher” night at our daughters’ elementary school. One of our daughters was in third grade, and one was in fourth, so we used the “divide and conquer” strategy, and each of us attending a different class. Afterward, we met at my car. When I got inside, Julie was looking straight ahead. She has just learned the results of her CT scan. There were multiple tumors in her GI tract.
She would later be diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. What her oncologist called a “rare and aggressive” form of cancer. A little more than eleven months later, she passed away.
The time period between her diagnosis and her passing I liken to living inside a tornado. It was intense, brutal, disorienting, and unbelievably sad. Lots of hospitals. Chemo. Radiation. Hospice. All of it.
And there were real moments of incredible love and connection. I will never forget Julie’s will to live. I witnessed the true power of the human spirit in action.
That experience transformed me and how I show up in life. It brought me much closer to God and taught me how to surrender. Each morning I would pray for a cure with every ounce of my heart and soul. And then I would turn it over to God. My winning formula in life had always been to work hard and don’t give up. Fight, fight, fight. Perseverance. That strategy wasn’t going to work here. So, I learned to trust in God. There is a greater plan. Thy will be done.
The day before Thanksgiving that year, I had lunch with a friend who shared with me the success his company was having with the Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS. At the heart of EOS is the idea that the founder, entrepreneur, or company leader often gets in the way of their company growing. The skillset to start a company is not the same as the one required to take a company to the next level.
With EOS, the leader role is divided into two parts: the visionary and the integrator. The entrepreneur-type becomes the visionary, and a second leader takes the role of the integrator. The visionary only has one direct report: the integrator. All of the other business leaders report to the integrator.
For EOS to work, the visionary and the integrator must be on the “same page.” In fact, under EOS, the two leaders hold a “same page meeting” every month to discuss anything and everything. We work through any differences so we can present a united front to our leadership team and to the entire organization.
Looking back, the timing of my lunch and learning about EOS seems Providential. At that moment, I wasn’t just feeling overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. I was open to new ideas and new approaches.
I wanted to learn more, so my friend suggested I read Get a Grip, a business fable about EOS. I listened to the book that weekend. The Monday after Thanksgiving, I called Mark Winters, an EOS Implementer. I jumped in. PCI jumped in. All in.
This week we’ve been looking at some of the lessons from Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. “Who Not How is about utilizing relationships and being transformed by them,” the authors write.
Dan and Ben believe we should ask “Who,” not “How,” to achieve our biggest goals in life. Rather than going it alone and trying to figure out “How” to do something, we are wise to ask, “Who” can help me instead?
Interestingly, Gino Wickman, the co-founder of EOS Worldwide and co-author of Get a Grip, has been enrolled in Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program for nearly twenty years. He credits Dan and his program with helping clarify his vision and build EOS.
Since that day-before-Thanksgiving lunch, PCI has nearly tripled in size. I’m convinced EOS and its “delegate and elevate” principle has been a significant driver of our growth.
I’m still a work-in-progress. But every time I ask Who rather than How, every time I trust in the right person, I know we get better as an organization.
Reflection: Are there parts of my life where I would benefit from engaging a Who to achieve my goals? Are there relationships I already have that are being underutilized?
Action: Journal about my answers to the questions above. Take action.