Boundaries and Guardrails – Zig Zag Principle #53

November 24th, 2011 by Rich Christiansen


Boundaries and GuardrailsAs you zigzag down that mountain toward your goal, you need to realize there are hazards on either side of the ski run.  Ski resorts groom and prepare the areas intended for skiers; however, experienced skiers know that just beyond the groomed runs are trees, rocks, potential avalanches, cliffs, and other dangers that may cause injury or even death.  The same is true in business and life.  If we’re smart, we establish boundaries and guardrails to keep us away from perils and on the groomed slopes that lead to our goals.

Some people think zigzagging is easy or a lazy person’s game.  The reality is it requires great discipline and control.  Any skier will tell you that traversing a steep mountain requires a strong back and legs, quick reflexes, and agility, while heading straight down is far less taxing.  That is, until you crash and burn. 

To avoid disaster, you’re going to want to create boundaries and set guardrails, which will keep you headed in the direction of your goal—and away from your own personal train wreck.

Keeping Your Zigzags under Control 

When you are beginning to head toward your beacon in the fog, you want to concentrate on three zigs and zags at a time.  That will keep you focused and under control. To help you with that, think in terms of devoting 65 percent of your time and resources on zig number 1 (driving to profitability), with 25 percent spent on planning and preparing for zag number 2 (adding resources and processes once you get to cash).  The final 10 percent of your time and resources should be spent planning how you want to scale your undertaking in zig number 3 (creating scale).  If you’re looking beyond three zigs, life gets too complex.

Once you have hit zig number 1 and your business is profitable, you need to turn and head toward zig number 2.  It’s easy, once you have cash coming in, to think you can skip making the turn.  But if you just stay in zig number 1, you may miss out on the dreams and goals defined as your true beacon in the fog.  (And remember cash alone is not a beacon worth pursuing.)

Once you are profitable, you should shift and spend about 65 percent of your time and energy on zag number 2, with 25 percent of your time spent on planning and preparing for zig number 3.  Again, if you do not make this next turn, you may find yourself with a lot of resources, but never hitting that big goal.  The last 10 percent of your time and efforts can then go toward setting another series of zigs that will help you get even closer to your beacon in the fog. 

Some people think zigzagging is easy or a lazy person’s game.  The reality is it requires great discipline and control.  Any skier will tell you that traversing a steep mountain requires a strong back and legs, quick reflexes, and agility, while heading straight down is far less taxing.  That is, until you crash and burn.

To avoid disaster, you’re going to want to create boundaries and set guardrails, which will keep you headed in the direction of your goal—and away from your own personal train wreck.

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