By David Gregory
The Next Level was a very quick and easy read. It’s a short fictional story about a recent college graduate taking one of his first jobs with an interesting company. It’s written with lots of dialogue between characters which allows you to get to know a few of the main characters fairly well in its 119 pages. Logan is the name of the main character, he starts on level one of the company and is supposed to analyze and identify problems within each level. Every level from one to five operates independently and has its own systems. Logan identifies systemic problems as well as individual problems as he goes. He discusses each of them with the Director. I won’t give the entire story away but I do want to write about a few principles that I think are good takeaways from this book.
One problem is that on one level the employees seem to be doing whatever they want and Logan notices that none of them seem very happy doing so. I’ve experienced this in several areas of my life. When I begin to feel like I don’t really have any goals in mind and I’m just spinning my wheels going through the motions, I’m not very happy. Joy often comes from progress and accomplishment. The progress piece is huge. You must learn to love the ride not just the end goal. The fun is in the doing even more so than the having.
Logan identifies the problem that many of the floors seem to be well organized and running well but not necessarily for the goals of the company. Remember, if you can’t help others catch your vision they will create their own and run with it. Human beings love to have purpose and we are so caught up in conclusions that if we don’t have the whole story we will fill in the gaps. Make sure your team catches your vision. This requires you to work on your company culture every single day. If not, the company will naturally create a culture and it won’t be the one you want.
Share your vision and then empower people to use their judgment and intelligence to accomplish their jobs. If you are micromanaging people, you are essentially discounting their talent, perspective and creativity, not to mention smashing their motivation. If you want people to actually accomplish tasks and grow your business through creative power, you need to help them catch the vision and let them perform within their skill set. It’s about mindset.
One of my favorite principles is that many of the floors have problems and don’t turn much profit for the company but they are allowed to continue because the Director believes that each employee has “to go through how it doesn’t work before they’re ready for how it does work.” Isn’t this the truth for all of is in life, the trick to quick success then is to learn how it doesn’t work as quickly and efficiently as possible. As Warren Buffett says “We all learn from mistakes but no one said they have to be your own mistakes.” Spend as much time as you possibly can reading and watching videos of the people who have found the success you would like to obtain. Learn from their journey so that you can take on the challenges that are coming and you can embrace the success well. Believe it or not, people fear their own success as well as their failures. You need to be ready for both.