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How’s business? It depends on which hat You’re wearing

One of the things we really care about at EMyth is helping business owners Work On it, not just In it. By “it”, we mean the business. Most owners spend most of their time and energy In the business—involved in the day-to-day “doing it”—when the most powerful thing they can do as leaders is work On it—things like crafting a vision for the business, empowering their team, etc.

Many owners we talk to understand this concept. They want to Work On It but just can’t seem to make the shift. They look at their business and can’t see another way to run it.

We suggest that instead they first look at themselves.

Specifically, which “hat” are they wearing in their business: The Entrepreneur, The Manager, or The Technician? Each hat represents a mindset and a role.

The book The EMyth Revisited explores these Three Personalities in detail, but in a nutshell: The Technician is the craftsperson who does the work, The Manager oversees operations and optimizes systems, and The Entrepreneur is the visionary who designs and leads the business.

Every business needs all three, and every person has all Three Personalities inside them to varying degrees. But owners who feel unable to break out of working too much In the business have fallen into (or never gave up) the habit of wearing the Technician hat most of the time, when they need to put on the mindset of The Entrepreneur.

It’s vital to understand the value of the Entrepreneurial, Managerial and Technician aspects within you. It’s also essential to recognize those mindsets in yourself and develop your ability to distinguish one from the other, so you can be aware of which hat you’re wearing and how it’s influencing your attitudes and actions. Each of those characters, or aspects, has a particular point of view; a way of looking at and seeing things, as well as a basic approach to thinking about and dealing with issues. What’s important to one of them might seem irrelevant to (or not even be noticed by) another.

Their perceptions are different. And perception shapes reality.

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So, what’s a trick to knowing when you’re “wearing” the mindset of the Technician, Manager, or Entrepreneur?

How do you know when not only your actions but your thoughts, perceptions, reactions, and choices are being dictated by your internal Technician, Manager, or Entrepreneur?

Understanding the different way each aspect views time, work, and money in terms of an equation is a helpful way to begin to identify which hat you are wearing in any given moment.

To the Technician Time = Work = Money

There’s only so much time in a day, and within that time there is work to do that will bring in money.

This is the mindset of The Technician. This person has work to do and believes (and therefore only sees) their ability to earn money as being directly related to doing as much work in the time available as possible. I put in my time, I do the work, and I make the money. If I want to make more money, the only option is to put in more time so I can do more of the work (Money = Time = Work). If I do more work, I’ll make more money, but it will take more time (Work=Money=Time).

The Technician is locked in a never-ending repetitive cycle by this equation. When wearing this hat and viewing the world from this mindset, it makes no sense to take precious “work time” to do anything but the work in front of you. The pressure to “get it done” is too immediate.

You’ll know you are “wearing this hat” when you catch yourself thinking “I can’t imagine taking time away from the work I have to do because no one else can do it.” Or “Maybe I’ll have time next week when we’ve met the sales target….but not right now.”

To the Manager Time = Systems = Leverage = Profit

The Manager’s mindset recognizes the ultimate value in taking time to step back, observe the work that’s being done, and design and establish procedures (systems) that allow the work to be replicated by not only one, but possibly many others (leverage). For The Manager, though, the result of this increased production goes beyond mere dollars and cents. This Manager mindset thinks in terms of improvements in efficiency and effectiveness that will increase output while saving on expenses, thus increasing margins (profit).

To the Entrepreneur Time = Equity = Freedom

The Entrepreneur sees the business from the perspective of ownership, with the focus being on the business as a whole, rather than the work that goes on inside it. This can mean seeing the “business as the product”, or simply building something that goes beyond being profitable to giving The Entrepreneur Freedom: the ability to choose the what, when, and how of their life without hindrance or restraint. Financially speaking, the relationship between Time and Money then becomes a matter of how long it will take to achieve the desired digits at the bottom of the balance sheet: Assets – Liabilities = Equity.

Paying attention to which “hat” you need right now

So, how do you begin to expand your ability to recognize, and therefore intentionally choose, which aspect you are leading from?

I have had clients who have taken the idea of the three hats to heart both figuratively and literally. They went out and got 3 hats that, for them, symbolized The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician. The hats help remind them to be aware of which role they’re playing, and which one they need to “be” to accomplish what they want at any given moment.

Here’s a fun ritual involving the hats that some have found valuable. Imagine physically “changing hats” as you move from one activity to another. You might hear yourself saying: “As I remove this hat and put on this one, I am sending my Technician on a break and putting my Manager in charge.” Notice how your thoughts, actions, and focus of attention shift depending on which “hat” you are wearing. What new things do you see, and where are you drawn to focus, when you put the Entrepreneur hat on?

Want more insights, practices, and systems for running your business like the world’s best companies do? Join our next online Masterclass! As part of the EMyth community, you are invited for free. Go here to save your place!

Judith Lerner

Written by Judith Lerner

Judith is an EMyth Coach. She brings knowledge, refined insights, and heart-felt support to business owners ready to focus on self-awareness and acceptance of personal accountability in service of taking their business to the next level. With good humor and full attention, her empowering approach inspires curiosity, discovery, and action. Learn more about Judith or schedule a free session with her here.