Smallest Viable Breakthrough

Seth Godin, in his workshop, asked us to write on my smallest viable breakthrough. I realize the subject is potentially complex, but the idea is simple…

I wonder, what is your smallest viable breakthrough that you aren’t passing on to others. Seth says this is the first step to moving beyond writer’s block. So, here is mine!

My smallest viable breakthrough is the basis for my book – pre-crisis leadership.

The smallest viable breakthrough is the construct of building capacity to prevent or prepare for a future crisis, the capacity to learn and grow during discomfort or disequilibrium. It is the capacity to face small obstacles and resistance every day so we are prepared to face big challenges in the future.

In the simplest pre-crisis metaphor, I go to the gym to increase my physical (and mental/emotional) capacity to take on load. And, I do that by showing up and moving weight beyond what is comfortable. I don’t need to push a lot – Steven Kotler says 4% discomfort (from a Google team study). I can’t bench 400 pounds and if I tried, I would be in crisis! However, I start with a challenging weight to do 5, 10, 15 reps… Then, over time, my capacity expands. It grows by showing up consistently. It grows by recovering (reflecting, rejuvenating, etc). It grows from appropriate nutrition and sleep. Then, I believe my capacity is enough to overcome that physical crisis in the future; whether a chronic disease, avoiding an injury, or living viably to 100 years old.

Pre-Crisis leadership recognizes the things I/we are doing (or aren’t doing) that will lead to crisis. Upon this recognition, stepping into discomfort builds capacity. Over time, if and when crisis arrives, I have the capacity to navigate it, potentially protect and serve others, and turn it into an opportunity.

This is my smallest viable breakthrough – (soon to be a NY Times Best Seller)

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