Why Thinking Like an Entrepreneur (NOT a Business Owner) Can Unblock Your Health
Updated: Jul 26
Ever had someone describe your work in a more concise way than you've been able to?
Recently, a client referred her friend, and described me to him as an "investigator."
I've described my work in a lot of different ways, but never thought to use the word "investigator" to describe what I do.
Yet it fits...really well actually.
THE INVESTIGATIVE HEALTH COACH
What I liked about my client's description, was how much it reminded me of a parallel theme of a great book I read recently--Jim McKelvey's work The Innovation Stack.
Among several great takeaways, one relevant thing that stood out to me was how McKelvey differentiated entrepreneurs from business owners.
He argued that while business owners are common, entrepreneurs are rare.
To oversimplify, business owners are people who plug into an existing system, or set of systems--a restauranteur, a plumber, and a medical doctor are all such examples.
For a traditional business owner, most of their work involves simply copying a proven model--i.e. use the same products, the same vendors, and follow the same "best practices."
In short, business owners follow a path already charted out by someone else and thus they don't have to innovate much to earn a living.
Entrepreneurs on the other hand are different.
Entrepreneurship starts when you see a complex problem in deep need of being solved and it overlaps with your skills, fascination, and willingness to go deep to bring to market a solution to solve that problem.
Unlike business owners, entrepreneurs have to be patient visionaries who get juiced by looking for solutions others haven't thought of.
Entrepreneurs, McKelvey would argue, are the tip of the innovative spear.
They take their lumps for sure, but because a tangible vision compels them, they are usually ridiculously difficult to discourage.
They are fueled by knowing a breakthrough is waiting if they don't give up.
THE INVESTIGATIVE, INNOVATION-STACKING, HEALTH COACH
What McKelvey argues, and what we found to be so true of our work as health coaches, is that each time we came up with a potential solution to the big, hairy problem our clients are trying to solve, what we inevitably (and repeatedly) find instead of the whole solution, is that we've simply identified the next aspect of the problem that needs solving.
In other words, we simply unearth the another obstacle to be dealt with, and another, and so on.
A few examples:
Clients would ask us for meal ideas...and we'd have to teach them how to shop, meal prep, and cook.
Clients would ask for workout ideas...and we'd have to solve the problem of achy joints.
Clients would ask for tips on how to sleep better, and we'd have to help them set new boundaries at work, or develop a whole-new evening routine for their family.
Clients would ask us for clear direction on the frequency of a particular health habit and then we (often repeatedly) had to address the "knowing vs. doing" problem.
It turns out that us humans regularly suffer from what's called "Problem Blindness."
We're so close to our own challenges, it's hard to see them clearly.
Even when we clearly identify a behavior that will move the needle, we're often blind to the real problem(s) that must be addressed before our efforts at behavior change will stick.
It is the process of repeatedly investigating our own blind spots that derails and demotivates most would-be entrepreneurs, and derails most people looking to improve their health.
THE INVESTIGATIVE, INNOVATION-STACKING, HEALTH COACH
For whatever reason, I like complicated problems.
I get energized by the detective work and strategy element of trying to solve them.
As Nina and I saw this "problem blindness" pattern repeat with virtually every client, we eventually learned we needed to step back and see how many common upstream problems we could investigate that, if addressed on the front end, would solve countless downstream health symptoms.
On the health front,
We pinpointed poor digestion and hormone imbalance, as the real upstream nutritional problems to fix first that can solve challenges with energy, sleep, mood, focus, libido, cravings, skin issues, and many others.
We pinpointed, guided, efficient fasting as the quickest way to empower the body to heal quickly (often dramatically) and without medication.
We pinpointed the difference between exercise and movement as the source of most joint pain and came up with several different ways to get people moving.
And that's the super-short list.
On the whole-life and motivation front,
We pinpointed personality types and how the way we're individually wired plays in the type of coaching that's most likely to produce a health transformation.
We pinpointed the difference between wishes and goals and developed our annual Planning Intensive to help clients develop profound clarity and stay accountable.
We pinpointed the need for both 1-1 coaching (for the specialized knowledge), and group coaching (for building community), so we developed a hybrid coaching program.
Most recently, covid pinpointed a deeper need for a robust toolkit to build a healthy home-life for families as the precursor to emotional stability and feelings of purpose, progress, and motivation.
And again...that's the super-short list.
Humans are complicated, but...
We've found that the better we get at fixing the upstream challenges, the better we fix a boatload of downstream problems.
As I look back on the business we've built, I'm proud to say, there's probably not an excuse you could think of that we have not heard and had to help someone outthink.
Where all the traditional "business" wisdom has been to "niche down," that never fit us.
We decided to "niche up(stream)" instead.
For us, that means working with people ready to think bigger so they can do the real work of lasting transformation.
Going upstream (initially) takes more effort, and a curious, patient, introspective mind, but...
Upstream is where the big, complicated problems are waiting to be solved.
The best part: If you can solve a few upstream problems, you don't have to treat symptoms.
Addressing the symptoms (the health condition) is the body's job.
Our (your) job is to fix what's causing it.
And to do that, you have to be willing to investigate deeply.
As McKelvey would say, you have to be willing to think like an entrepreneur.
You have to be willing to not look for the same off-the-shelf solutions, the same "best practices" and instead be willing to investigate and innovate until you solve the problem.
What we've found, once people understand what we do, is that this difference in approach is the thing they value the most about our work.
I even had a returning client two days ago tell me the reason she came back is because of how holistic we are at both health and problem solving.
Three years ago I had mentioned the idea of us piecing off aspects of our program and she recoiled at the idea.
Thanks for the feedback Maggie!
BEGINNING A WORTHWHILE JOURNEY
While it takes more work to communicate in such a way to reach the people in need of, and eager for, real transformation, to us, the enrichment of client's lives, and the personal satisfaction that comes from solving complex problems is exhilarating.
We know that when we solve the big, systemic problems, we have a client whose trajectory is forever changed.
They get to finally break the cycles robbing them of their romance, adventure, dignity, significance, and contribution, and we get to rest well each day with the personal satisfaction of knowing we played a part in helping.
While I think everyone (myself included) could use a good coach, the questions of timing, mindset (your readiness), and interviewing to find the right coach are also important.
Maybe today isn't the day to hire a coach (or maybe it is), but today is definitely the day to think more like an entrepreneur and less like a business owner when it comes to your life.
Either way, imagine what could happen if your thinking shifted that direction?
Where could you think more like an entrepreneur when it comes to your health?
Where might you have been "guilty" of thinking like a business owner and looking (hoping) for a cookie-cutter system to plug into that absolved you of the need to think hard?
Most people plan their vacation with more thought than they plan their life.
Don't let that be you!
If you've been guilty of going through life like that, maybe today is the day you change that?
My encouragement to you is to imagine the breakthrough that might be waiting for you with this simple mindset shift?
YOU are the only one who can make it happen.
And, if you want a coach in your corner to help you along the way, reach out.
I'd be happy to help.
Until next time,
PS. You don't have to think of everything yourself. If today is the day you're ready to change the trajectory of your life, book a call now and let's get you in front of the right questions.
PPS. If you want to know more about our health coaching you can:
Check our our website
See a presentation of how we go upstream and fix health problems
Take our Health-Transformation-Type Quiz to see how your personality influences the solution that's right for you.
Have a specific question for me? You can email me at email@example.com