Our country is in a rebuilding phase. People are rebuilding their lives. Businesses are rebuilding their brands. We’re right alongside the rest of the world, gathering up the wisdom we’ve accumulated for the last two years and rebuilding accordingly. I’ve learned some lessons about rebuilding, and they’re helping us build back a stronger, more resilient, no-bullshit company. Here are five important lessons to help you rebuild with resilience in mind.
How Do You Rebuild After a Setback?
Lesson 1: Be Willing to Look at Your Failures.
I’ve failed a lot, which means that Spartan has failed a lot. You could point to a bunch of different initiatives that we’ve had over the years that have been failures. It’s not easy to look at moments where you’ve fallen flat in the mud, but it’s essential if you want to rebuild stronger. Your ego will get in the way of you taking a long hard look at what went wrong and where you f***** up, but you have to do it.
You have to be willing to investigate the failure, extrapolate the data that allows you to do things better the next time, and move forward. When you rebuild, you don’t leave the failures behind. You integrate them into what you do next. That is rebuilding with resilience.
Lesson 2: Keep Your Mission Top of Mind.
When people and companies rebuild, they have a tendency to operate timidly. They’ve been crushed and take nervous steps forward. Their decision tree is completely f***** and they make decisions to avoid failure. They play defense. You can’t do it that way. You have to play offense. And the best way to prevent that from happening is to remember your mission.
I talk about focusing on your True North a lot, and that’s because it works. When we came out of 2020 and looked to rebuild, I kept our mission top of mind: Transforming 100 million lives. Every decision that you make should be measured against that mission, not against fear or protection.
Lesson 3: Button up Communication.
Communication has to be one of the pillars you lean against when you rebuild. At Spartan, we have a few rules that ensure that our communication is as buttoned up as possible. At the top of that list? If a problem can’t be solved in two emails, we pick up the phone.
Throughout the pandemic, everyone became accustomed to virtual communication — emails, Slack, texts, direct messages — but those can all be limiting and prove inefficient for solving problems FAST. You’ve got to pick up the f****** phone. It’s not hard, and it minimizes miscommunication. When you rebuild, emotions are often running hot. Whether it’s fear, insecurity, or even excitement, these can get in the way of effective communication. Squash that quickly by just picking up the phone.
Lesson 4: Weed Out What Doesn’t Work.
The best part of any failure is having new data that shows you what doesn’t work. But once you’ve got that data, you have to do something with it. Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is insane. As you rebuild your business, relationships, or even confidence, you have to drop what didn’t work that first time. (This relates to Lesson 1, but takes it a step further by pushing you to actually leave behind what didn’t work.)
Change is hard. We are attached to doing things our own way and — even when it blows up in front of us — it can be tough to move away. But if you want to rebuild stronger, then it doesn’t make sense to do what you did before. You have to pivot. Sometimes this includes pivoting away from people that aren’t doing their part. It’s not easy when you care about someone, but if they aren’t pulling their weight at the end of the day, it’s time to say goodbye.
Lesson 5: Activate a Support Network.
Rebuilding is tough, and you can’t do it alone. You need a board of people around you that will support you, but also check you. When you rebuild, you're bound to put blinders on at some point. You come up with new projects that you want to invest in, new directions that you want to take. But if you’ve got people around you that can encourage you to zig when you want to zag, listen.
I can definitely go off the rails sometimes. I see something super cool and I want to go all in. My team puts up guardrails so that I don’t completely unravel with new ideas. You have to be willing to listen and receive the support, whether you like it or not.
For the most part, we never want to rebuild because it typically means that something is broken. But you have to look at these things as opportunities, not threats. I would have never wished for the pandemic, but as we’ve rebuilt, pivoted, failed, and rebuilt some more, we have come out stronger than ever.