Join our NewsletterValue builders link

Monkey Bars of Life

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

“3-5 years Dan, that’s my timeline.”

(2 years later)

“3 to 5 years, Dan, that’s my timeline.” 

You’ve built this business up over a lifetime and now the other forces of your life (your spouse, kids, and maybe your own mortality) are starting to push you in a new direction. You know, that one we refer to as “exit stage left." It sounds pretty final, so you put it off; it’s the human thing to do.

In this realm, you have demonstrated success. You have control, loads of value, and others looking to you as the captain of the ship. Giving all that up requires tremendous planning. It starts with thinking less about “giving all of this up” and more about “figuring out what’s next." More importantly, it’s about getting excited  about the “what’s next."

I call it the “Monkey Bars Effect." If you don’t have another bar to grab on to, there’s no way you’re prying loose the white knuckle grip you’re maintaining. Unless, of course, someone steps on your fingers. You can’t always foresee that outside pressure coming. (As a first grader on the jungle gym, I sure didn’t anticipate my buddy stepping on my hands, a fall that seemed to have been from 100 feet up and a broken arm…but I digress.)

If you don’t have that next bar figured out, you may not have the luxury of choosing for yourself where you go next. Disruption can come in many forms – innovation, increased competition, the loss of a key employee or even a family emergency. You won’t always have the choice of when to grab for that next bar.

There are two factors at play here – “what to do” and “when to do it." I’m trying to incorporate some of my 9th grade algebra lessons on solving for two unknowns, but I am coming up empty. What I do know is that without a “what” you’ll never have a “when” – at least not one on your own terms. While I’m not advocating that you come up with that “what’s next” idea today, it’s something you deserve to consider so that you exit on your terms. The last thing you want is to be hanging from the same bar for too long when your proverbial grip gives out on you. That fall would be a lot more jolting than the easy swing you could otherwise make.