Multipliers Aren’t Normal — But They Can Be

Dan Sullivan

If you want this year to be an exceptional one — your best year yet — you have to start by looking at your idea of what’s “normal.”

Your internal sense of “normal” is likely unconscious, yet it sets your comfort levels, shapes your actions, and frames your results, so it’s a crucial concept to become aware of and work with.

In our world, incrementalism is the norm: “We do this, then we do this, and then we do this.” Bureaucracies are based on the notion that it takes a long time to do things, doing them won’t be very exciting, and the process isn’t going to change. The people caught up in those processes don’t understand the impact of their work, and there’s no finish line ahead of them.

This can also take place in the entrepreneurial world: People develop a way of going about their business, everyone in their industry has the same sense of how results are created, and the work takes on an air of dullness. After a while, their nervous systems just aren’t geared to seeing it any other way, and this becomes “normal.”

When you start thinking in terms of multipliers, though, you enter a completely different realm. Here, you make decisions about what constitutes normal.

You can’t just make a radical departure from the idea of incrementalism to the idea of multipliers, though, and have the people around you consider the multipliers normal, too, because they know what’s normal. They’ve been at normal for a long, long time.

People don’t like going outside the realm of normal. That’s abnormal. People don’t like abnormal. They don’t like being abnormal, and they don’t like taking part in abnormal activities. So one of the big tricks with using multipliers is making the very concept seem natural to the people around you.

The funny thing is that, with all the amazing tools, systems, and equipment we now have because of the microchip, operating in a multiplier fashion is actually much more “normal” than operating in an incremental fashion. In other parts of their life, most people in the workforce are comfortable adapting to changes in quick succession, learning and using new capabilities, yet it doesn’t occur to them to apply that kind of thinking at work, because in most normal workplaces, that’s just not done. If changes suddenly started happening within a bureaucracy faster than they could be controlled from the top, that would be considered extremely abnormal, and it would be suppressed, discouraged, blunted.

So there’s this vast world of multiplier capabilities available, but the connection between you and all those capabilities is in developing an attitude that multiplying is a really good thing and that you can get things done incredibly fast.

The starting point for this is in your mind.

I often hear entrepreneurs say, “I wish I had some people around me who were better, who got things done, who were more exciting and more creative.”

My answer to them is that it probably won’t happen. Of course they ask me why, and I say, “Because in your mind, that wouldn’t be okay. In your mind, it’s okay to not be surrounded by talent, and it’s normal to be able to complain about it.”

If you were surrounded by sped-up activity, by faster, bigger, better results, would it be okay for that to be your normal, everyday environment? If not, you’ll make sure it doesn’t happen.

That’s why you need a more compelling idea of “normal.”

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