Fulcrum: Multiplied Output

ful·crum (noun) – The point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.

Oxford Dictionary

For thousands of years, humans have learned to use simple machines to help them do more work. One of these types of machines is a lever. The key component that makes a lever work is the fulcrum. The fulcrum provides a mechanical advantage, whereby a larger output of load can be gained from a smaller input of effort.

In the type of knowledge work we are involved in as business owners, we have to understand what it looks like to leverage our work. We only have so many hours in our day. Increasing our effort (hours worked) will only get us so far in growing our business. We have to understand what tools to use that will leverage our input into exponentially more output.

“… focusing our energy on the controllable inputs to our business is the most effective way to maximize financial outputs over time”

Jeff Bezos 2009 Letter to Shareholders

Jeff Bezos always throws little nuggets like this into his annual letter to shareholders. There is a lot to learn from this statement but the two areas we are going to unpack are “controllable inputs” and “focusing our energy”.

Controllable Inputs

As entrepreneurs who want to grow our business, it is easy to set financial goals. For instance, you might say, “I want to grow my sales from $800k to $1MM per year. However, knowing how to grow is a bit harder sometimes than just setting a goal. In fact, focusing on financial output is rarely the way to create actual growth.

In order to effect the outcomes we desire, we have to understand the inputs that we have control over. Further, the most important controllable inputs are the ones that have the maximum impact on outputs. This is type of input is a good fulcrum because it will multiply our efforts.

Focusing Our Energy

We only have a finite amount of time available in our day. More importantly, we have an even smaller amount of energy available within any given day. As Gary Keller says in his best-selling book, The One Thing, will power is not on will call. We have a tendency to fall for the lie that we have an unlimited supply of willpower. In reality, we don’t. The limited amount of will power that we do have needs to be focused on the activities that will bring us the most leverage.

The Questions

We are after leverage in our business and that means we have to work on the controllable inputs. The best hours of our day, our prime energy times, have to be focused on our key controllable inputs. This leads us to make sure we answer some critical questions.

In order to reach my goals:

  1. What is the most important controllable input for me to be focusing on right now?
  2. What learning do I need to better perform this key activity?
  3. How am I going to measure my activity on this input?
  4. When is the most optimal time of my day to work on this activity?
  5. Who is going to provide feedback and accountability to make sure that I’m spending the time on and growing in my abilities to better perform this key activity?

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