The Truth about Leadership for Building a Fun Business

leadership

The Ten Truths for making business Fun

The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun

And building a business that sustains you for years to come:

This is the fourth article in a monthly series on Making Business Fun: This article is about the 5 business management Truths

The last article laid out the five building blocks of management of a fun business and you can read it here

The articles are based on my book, The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun, published in 2011. All of my books and other resources are available for free here

Building a Fun business: Leadership

What does it take to be the leader of a Fun business

leadership in a fun business

Great leadership in business can (for a while at least!) compensate for less than perfect scores when it comes to profit, passion, planning and many other pivotal aspects of running a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.

If you are a great business leader of your people, then you’ve taken the Leadership Truth from my first book (download it for free here) to heart: “Your time, your health and your brain cells are gold,”. It’s also likely that you live the Truth from my second book (download it for free here) about leadership: “You have passionate beliefs, you walk the talk, and you are not afraid to dream,”. If so, you will more than likely have a business that does better than most.

I also once wrote that “a leader is simply someone we trust, and who is courageous, authentic and passionate.” This is clearly a great starting point because if your people don’t trust you, then no amount of systemisation, marketing or planning will get your business past a subsistence level. Inversely, when your people do trust you, see your courage and feel your passion, you will be forgiven for many other shortcomings.

Now, I’m going to invite you to take this thinking one step further.

Fun for Everyone

A Fun Business should be Fun for everyone involved. It should also sustain everyone – not just the owner – for years to come.

When I say everyone, I actually do mean Everyone (with a capital “E”): you, your family, your staff, your staff’s family, your suppliers, your contractors, your customers, your investors and even your community.

In fact, I am completely convinced (from everything I’ve seen and studied over the past 35 years!) that truly great small businesses are founded by and built around a leader who is committed to building such a business, for everyone.

Servant First, Leader Second

TTTMBF helping hand In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about the concept of “Level 5 Leadership”. Leaders who operate at this level are passionate, authentic, driven and ambitious – but not for themselves.

Level 5 leaders are ambitious for their organisation and their people. Their ego doesn’t get in the way of how they run their businesses. They might be heading up massive global corporations, but they still fly economy (like the founder of Ikea) or do their own shopping at the supermarket on Saturdays (like the founder of Walmart) or answer their own phones (like the CEO of Nucor Steel).

This concept has a lot of parallels with “servant leadership”. Robert Greenleaf at Harvard University coined the term in the 1970s, but the idea has been around for much longer (a famous Chinese general wrote about something similar thousands of years ago). As Robert Greenleaf explains: “The servant leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… (versus one who is leader first…).”

In my experience, every small, medium and large Fun Business that sustains all for years to come is run by a leader who sees their role as servant first and leader second.

Small Supermarket

A great example of this “leader as servant” notion comes from a client of mine who owns supermarkets. I remember the day we were discussing the structure of his business and we had drawn a new organisational chart in the traditional hierarchical model – the classic pyramid structure.

My client sat on top of the pyramid as the CEO. He had two different top managers below him, a bunch of store managers in the middle and all the shop staff at the bottom. We spent a lot of time talking about the structure and it became clear that my client was feeling uncomfortable.

We got up and walked around the room a little and suddenly his eyes lit up while he was stood on the opposite side of the table. “That’s it,” he said, “I am going to turn the pyramid upside down! I see my role as being at the bottom, not the top. My role is to support everyone in the business to do great work and grow as people.”

My client had that insight in 2010 and now his company has grown into a Fun Business that sustains everyone and will undoubtedly do so for years to come.

There is a quote by sales guru Zig Ziglar that illustrates the same principle: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Your Homework (The Fun Kind)

Think about some of the greatest business leaders of the modern era. Don’t imagine the rock star leaders who are household names for a while and then cash out and let everything fall apart behind them. Focus on the quiet, enlightened leaders of businesses that grow and develop year after year without fanfare.

In order to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you need to strive to become an enlightened leader. These leaders are committed, driven and ambitious. However, they don’t do it for themselves. They do it for the business and its people.

What can you do to embody enlightened leadership? It could be anything from regularly sharing helpful insights and nuggets of wisdom with your team to honing your emotional intelligence in order to find more empathy for others. No guru necessary – I promise!

Remember, if you want to have something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.

Next Month, I’ll be talking about the myths of business growth

More on this topic:

 

AR Business-Life Coaching Principles

What is Business-Life Coaching?

And who cares anyway?

Getting help, Business Life Coaching, external support

Building a Beautiful Business starts at home…

What does it take to build your own Beautiful Business and Life? What is Business-Life Coaching anyway? What are the Principles of Business-Life Coaching? How is Business-Life Coaching different from any other form of business support or guidance. And above all, why should that matter to you at all?

Business-Life Coaching… It’s about everything

When thinking about building a Beautiful Business, we tend to think about:

Systems… Human resources… Killer products… Efficiency… Financial Management… IP… Culture… Asset Management… Strategy… Innovation… Marketing… Sales… Planning… Vision… Purpose… Systems… Quality Assurance… Profit… Cash flow

And possibly a bunch of others I’ve yet forgotten.

When did you last look in the mirror?

Which of those are the most important, do you think? Which of these matter more than any others?

They’re all important, no doubt, but the key factor in developing a Beautiful Business and Life isn’t in the list above. The aspect of business that “Rules them all”, in the words of Gandalf in The Lord of The Rings, is looking at you in the mirror… That’s right, You… Little Old You.

More money, more time, more balance, more life…

The Principles of Business-Life Coaching can be expressed in this statement:

If you want something you’ve never had before,

First, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.

As you’re reading this page, I imagine you want the future of your business and your life to be different than it is now. You want to grow, make more money, find more time, have greater work-life-balance, retire (with a bunch of cash), make the world a better place, be proud of the stuff your business produces, and make a difference.

And that’s great, I love supporting people that have exciting dreams and want to make a splash. It’s what I get out of bed for every day.

Are you the kind of person?

But none of us can have any of those dreams, unless we’re prepared to become the kind of person who builds the kind of business that makes the kind of profit you dream of, or that makes the kind of difference we dream of, or that is sold for the kind of dollars we dream of. Would you like to Discover what’s possible for you and your business?

Hence my focus on Business and Life Coaching. The “hard” skills as well as the “soft” skills of developing your business. I will teach you about the latest business management thinking, and we’ll design new systems customised to your business. We’ll create business and marketing plans that work and implement them. We’ll get clear about the Purpose of your business, you’ll implement controls and get good at numbers so that you have your fingers on the Pulse every day. We’ll get your staff firing on all cylinders. We may develop new products and come up with innovative solutions to bust past the hurdles that have held your business back.

You’ve Got All Da Moves…

We’ll do all that and much more besides, but at the same time we’ll be working on what it takes to be a great business owner who builds a Beautiful Business and Life. We’ll work on leadership skills, self management skills, developing your vision, prioritising what’s most important in your life, goal setting, strategic thinking, planning, communication, people management, how to get out of crisis management, and above all we’ll work on how to look after yourself.

Building a Beautiful Business and Life, is a journey out of your comfort zone. It means you have to be prepared to look at yourself, acknowledge that you’re the bottleneck that holds your business back and say:

“Now is the time to Change”

Further reading:

The Ten Priorities; Priority #6: Asking for Help

Ten Priorities, external advice

Ten Priorities, external advice

It takes a village

This is the sixth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The sixth Priority is about not doing it all on your own. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

Do you have a little voice on your shoulder, that whispers in your ear?

Most of us do.

And a lot of what the little voice whispers in our ears is not very nice, is it?

The basic message from the little voice, is that we suck.

We’re not good enough. We’re not cutting it as parents, as lovers, as friends and especially we’re not cutting it as business owners.

And for most business owners that little voice goes from whispering to yelling, the moment we even consider committing the heinous crime of asking for help.

Asking for support in business, is almost guaranteed to get the little voice on our shoulder extremely excited.

Deep down we all believe that being a great business owner, an inspiration to our staff and customers alike, means we must do it all ourselves. We seem to think that business success is only meaningful if we’ve done it all alone.

Hogwash… Utter nonsense.

It takes a village to build a great business. One of my most successful and oldest clients has built a whole team of specialist advisers, coaches and mentors around him. (more about getting external help here)

I guarantee that no matter which inspiring business role model you interview, they’ll all tell you their success is due partly to the support of one or more mentors, coaches or advisers.

No-one can do it all alone.

You need other people to:

  • Hold you accountable to your plans and goals.
  • Brainstorm with you and be a sounding board.
  • Support you when you stumble.
  • Give you honest opinions, advice and feedback.

There are many ways to get outside support. You can join a business support group, get a business coach, or mentor, start your own advisory board, or all of the above. But whatever you do, dropkick your little voice…Forget trying to do it all on your own… You can’t … I promise you.

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

Next week, Priority #7: Managing Money

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

BQ Personal Development

leadership

How can I become a better

business owner and leader?

leadership personal development change

Business Change follows Personal Change

I believe personal development is integral to developing your business. The two always go hand in hand. It’s the reason I refer to myself as a Business – Life Coach, rather than a business coach. It all boils down to one word: Leadership.

Most business owners, in the deepest dark reaches of their mind, are afraid they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, as business owners, we start our business on the back of a profession, a trade, or a skill we have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, software developer, designer, mechanic, chef, retail manager) and we feel confident in that particular skill. Starting a new business is an enormous buzz. But once we start a business based on that profession, we suddenly realise it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.

Time to think, doing nothing

Where’s the toilet paper?

Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee, or sign the lease for the new office, as well as making sure the toilets are stocked with toilet paper and that there’s ink for the printer. To top it off, your people look to you to have Vision, to have the answers and to be the leader.

Three pieces of good news about your leadership

It can be a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news:

  1. You got this far and you’re still standing, so you must be doing something right.
  2. Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any stuff up you’re going to make along the way.
  3. Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at.

What is leadership then?

Leadership starts with this statement:

Your business is what it is today, because of WHO you ARE today.

That may seem obvious. But what may not be so obvious is what follows.

Because what it means is this:

If you want SOMETHING you’ve never had before,

First, you’ve got to BECOME SOMEONE you’ve never been before.

Systems and knowledge are never enough

Many business coaching companies sell a “system” that will supposedly deliver a business that generates a million dollars of profit every year. Those systems are often well thought through, well presented and well worth looking into, but they rarely work, at least not by themselves. The reason they don’t work is that Change, business Change or personal Change, is never about systems and knowledge. Just like we all know the system for losing weight (eat less, and exercise more), most of us business owners already know most of what we need to know to Change our businesses.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

And just like losing weight means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of eating less and exercising more, changing our businesses means having to become the kind of person who commits to a regimen of developing as people, as managers, as communicators, as coaches… As leaders in other words.

We have to become leaders, the kind of people, who do what needs to be done, to build the kind of businesses that make a million dollars net profit (or substitute whatever figure is relevant for you).

It’s often referred to as the Be, Do, Have model.

Couldn’t I just flick a switch?

Becoming that kind of business owner, that kind of leader, who builds that kind of business, doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t flick a switch and suddenly become that person. Change is a Journey, an adventure, a process of growth. It takes time and commitment, and nobody can know, on forehand, what your adventure is going to look like or what the outcome of your Journey is going to be. Every business owner has his or her own Journey to make, and every Journey is different.

The one thing we can be sure of is this:

Change won’t happen unless you get on the Journey.

Getting on the Journey means stepping out of your comfort-zone and then staying there. You have to push off from the shore, get out onto the ocean, set a course for the horizon and not come back, because Change never happens in the safety of the harbour.

And you know this already. Take a look back over your life to date: It’s all been a Journey. Ten years ago you couldn’t have done what you do today.

But sometimes we just get stuck for a while in the safety of the harbour. Stepping out of your comfort-zone, leaving the harbour, is hard. The day-to-day of scrubbing the decks, repairing the sails and polishing the brass work gets in the way. And before you know it, the day-to-day is all there is.

The two questions you need to answer

That leads to two questions:

  1. How do you know you’re ready to get on the Journey?
  2. How do you get on that Journey?

The first question is the easiest as well as the hardest to answer:

You’re ready when you feel you’re ready.

More about the connection between personal and Business Change:

Being in the harbour

Do take a few minutes to watch this gorgeous TED talk by David Whyte, on past and future and journeys of Change.

There’s nothing wrong with being in the harbour for a while. We need to make sure the ship is seaworthy and safe, we need to make sure we know how to sail the ship, we need to learn to navigate and we need to get clear about the compass course we’re going to set once we get under way. The harbour is a great place to do all those things. But there comes a moment when the pull of the wide open ocean becomes irresistible. That’s when it’s time to go. And when you do: Set the course, hoist the sails, put your gaze on the horizon, and don’t look back.

How do you get on the Journey?

And the second question: How do you get on that Journey?

There are many ways to strike out, but one way to get onto such a Journey of discovery, is with me. I take my clients on inspiring journeys like that all the time. You could think of me like the captain of the ship. I know how to keep the ship safe, I know how to navigate, how not to hit the reefs and how to get safely back into harbour at the other end.

And I’d love to come on your next adventure with you.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

This is what the Adventure looks like with me:

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to push off and get under way, the process I will take you through is this:

  1. We’ll get very clear about the state of your business and life as it is at the moment. What are the strengths of the business? What are your strengths as the business owner? Where are the stresses in your life? What are the areas in the business that are falling behind? What are the areas you need to develop in as leader?
  2. We take several small steps first. You’ll get to put your toe in the water, feel what it’s like working with me. It’s called the Five Steps to Discovery Process, and it’s mostly free.
  3. We’ll get equally clear about what we want the other end of the Journey to look like. In 6 – 9 – 12 months what do you want your business and your life to look like, in great detail? We’ll develop an enormous set of Goals and picture of the desired future. The Goals will include tangibles, and intangibles. It will include financial targets, and KPI’s across all areas of the business and your life. It will include your state of mind and your health and wellbeing, and everything else that you need to explore and discover to build the business and the life you dream off.
  4. We’ll develop a strategic plan for the achievement of the Goal, with a wide range of monthly milestones.
  5. We’ll shake hands and commit to the Journey, get on board, set the compass course for The Goal, push off, and not come back.

Ultimately, making the decision to Change, to get on the Journey, is Fun. It may not always appear that way, when looking out onto the vastness of the ocean at first, but it will be the most satisfying decision you’ve taken in a long time… I promise you.

Further reading:

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

BQ Work-Life-Balance

How can I find greater work-life-

balance in my business and life?

Business owner happy people working on the jetty Work-life-balance is elusive for most business owners, but here’s how to find it

Work-life-balance is a term that’s been bandied about by many business and life coaches, in the books and videos by the life style gurus and in the personal development industry. It’s what we’re all supposed to be creating for a long and happy life. It’s the dream. Sadly, it’s a distant dream for many business owners.

One of the reasons for the unattainability of the dream, is that the generally accepted idea of Work-life-balance is a myth. Many great philosophers and thinkers, such as the gently spoken Alain de Botton, consider that the way we think about Work-life-balance is fantasy (Watch Alain de Botton’s TED Talk here). We need an entirely different picture to model our lives on, if we want to feel satisfied about our life and work.

work-life-balance

And you know this is true too, because in your business, if anything is to get done at all, it’s down to you; if you don’t do it, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. You’re often the first one in the door in the morning, and the last one out the door at night. You have breakfast and lunch on the run, and after the kids have been put to bed at night you have to catch up on your admin and quoting. And by the way: Isn’t it funny how with every new staff member you employ to lighten your workload, you seem to get busier?

Work-life-balance: It’s personal

To create a better Work-life-balance in our lives as small business owners and entrepreneurs, I believe there are a few principles we need to understand first:

  • Balance is a personal thing, what works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else.
  • What feels right, is right. There are no hard and fast rules for balance.
  • Balance is a never ending negotiation. There is no set formula for balance. Priorities change constantly in life and business.
  • Sometimes we’ve just got to do what’s got to be done.
  • There’s nothing wrong with working hard, there’s nothing wrong with averting a crisis, but too much is too much.
  • Sometimes, not doing something, at all, (whatever the thing might be at this moment), or not doing it perfectly  is fine. Your business and your life will most likely survive and the world will not come to an end.
  • Nobody has ever come to the end of their life and said: “I wish I’d worked harder”.

There is no rule book for Work-live-balance. There have been times in my life when I’ve worked insane hours while feeling totally balanced, in “flow” and happy, and other times when I’ve worked much less hard, yet felt overwhelmed and stressed. And just because I might work fewer hours per day, than you might do, doesn’t mean I have achieved better balance than you do. If you feel that your life is balanced, it is, and if you feel your life is out of balance, it is also.

All-nighters can be fun sometimes, can’t they?

As business owners, sometimes we’ll be confronted with situations that simply mean we have to pull an all-nighter or work on Sunday. It’s part of the package of being a business owner. It can even be highly rewarding to pull an all-nighter on a project, with a deadline looming and at the end of it, know you’re the one that’s made it happen, pulled a rabbit out of the hat. It can be one of the most fun experiences you have in business.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Memories from the Sydney Olympics

work-life-balance I will always remember the last weeks leading up to the opening of the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. I and my team worked every hour that God gave us for two weeks straight to complete the fit-out of the Holland Heineken House in Darling Harbour. It was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. That’s now 18 years ago and I have nothing but fun memories of that period (and about the 14 day long party with 100,000 of my closest friends in the Holland Heineken House afterwards).

The simple fact is that if you feel good about your life and the mix of things you spend time with, you’re in balance, and if you walk around feeling bad about the fact that your kids or your spouse or your choir or your health and fitness or your peace of mind are missing out, then your life is not in balance. And what’s more, it’s really important to understand that what is right for you today, may not necessarily be right for you tomorrow. It was perfectly alright for me to spend those weeks building the Holland Heineken House and barely seeing my family, for those weeks, at that time.

Things change… Don’t they?

But it would not have been alright for that to be my life all year round. It may be fine for you right now to catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed, but it may also be that at some point in the coming year it will start to bother you, and then it’s not alright anymore.

But one thing is absolutely sure. You’re going to want to take the issue of balance in work and life seriously and check in with yourself regularly what is and what isn’t right, and you will want to move towards finding the balance that is right for you, because nobody has ever laid on their death bed wishing they’d worked longer and harder. (The top five regrets of the dying)

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Work-life-balance comes down to 5 things:

  1. Clarity about what matters most, to you, in your business (Also watch my short video about The Purpose of business here)
  2. Learning to say NO. And also watch my short video about saying NO here
  3. Learning to trust yourself
  4. The 4 quadrants of time management. And also watch my video about managing the most valuable asset of your business here
  5. Learning to delegate (one of the 4 D’s, see below)

Work-life-balance follows automatically once: you’ve learned what really matters in your life, you learn to say No to the stuff that doesn’t matter, you learn to trust that you’ll probably make the right decision (after all you’ve got this far, why not assume you’ll continue to do ok), and finally you learn to set time aside for the important stuff you must do and delegate the rest (or apply the 4 D’s)

Once you’ve learnt all of that, you’ll have started to create a Beautiful Business and Life and that although it mightn’t look like Balance to an outsider, it works for you, and that’s all that matters.

I’d love to help you take those 5 steps above. I have created a Five Steps to Discovery Process to help you get moving and find greater balance in your life and Build a Beautiful Business and Life. The steps are small and mostly free, find out more here.

The 4 D’s

The 4 D’s I mentioned a couple of sentences ago are a nice management concept. The idea behind the 4 D’s is somewhat parallel to the 5 things I talked about above. For any task that comes across your desk consider one of the 4 D’s:

  • Do It – If it takes less than two minutes, and it needs to be done, just do it now. You could schedule it for later, or delegate it, but it might take you a couple of minutes just to do that. Save yourself the hassle and do it now.
  • Diarise It – if it’s going to take more than two minutes, if it’s got to be done, and you’re the right person for the job, block out some time in your diary in the next week or two to Do It.
  • Delegate It – The secret of getting more done and scaling your business is to delegate, delegate, delegate… So get good at delegating and look for every opportunity to do so.
  • Dump It – When you really stop and think about it, and you have a look at the 4 Quadrants of time management, some stuff isn’t actually all that important… A lot of demands on your time are firmly in quadrant 3 (urgent bu not important) or maybe even quadrant 4 (neither urgent, nor important) … The world won’t come to an end… What’s the worst that could happen… DELETE.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Work-Life-Balance surveys:

Have a look at my Big Pain of Small Business survey to see how you compare against other business owners on balancing work and life. You might also like to complete the very short Richard Branson Questionnaire, to see how you compare against the most famous of all the noble knights of business, who also seems to have his work and life sorted better than most of us poor peasants.

Further Reading:

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

The Ten Priorities; Priority #1: Yourself

business owners priority looking after yourself

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

This is the first post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The first Priority is about You, the business owner. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

As seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7, on 1 October:

I sometimes like asking my clients what they think is the most valuable asset of their business?

Most people I ask that question of will mention, their customers, their staff, investments, equipment, IP, etc.

Of course, it’s a trick question, because the answer is, it’s You.

All other assets, as valuable as they might be, you can buy, borrow, hire or steal more of. But you, your time, your health and your brain cells are absolutely limited.

The first responsibility of any business owner is to look after the assets of the business and to maximise the return the business gets from those assets. And so, the most important job of a responsible business owner is to look after him- or herself.

Breakfast sitting down

Responsible business owners prioritise themselves.

They ensure they get enough sleep and rest. They ensure their brain gets time to relax, so it can function optimally. They ensure they have breakfast sitting down, most days. They get some form of regular exercise and they look after their own mental health and wellbeing.

You won’t always be successful at prioritising yourself, some days things just get out of hand, but regularly, maybe at the start of every day, stop for a moment and plan some space for yourself in the day.

If you take the responsibility of looking after your most valuable asset seriously, you will start to build a Great Small Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your Life will never be the same either… I promise you

Next week Priority #2: Doing Nothing

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Ten Priorities for Change: Foundations for building a Great Business and Life

foundation change business life

Foundations build a great business

How to make your business take off

This is the first is a series of 12 posts on Change (with a capital “C”) and laying the foundations for building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. The following 11 weeks will see one post each week. Please also read last week’s post about Entrepreneurial Types, here.

As a Business-Life Coach (Principles of Business – Life coaching), I believe that your business is built on you. You, personally, are the foundation your business is built on, and if you want to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, you better make sure the foundation is as solid as you can make it. Hence, I believe that effective business coaching and development programs should focus as much on Change of the person of the business owner, as they are on Change in the mechanics of the business. (Read about my explanation of the different forms of coaching, guidance and business support here). As a Business-Life Coach, therefore, I want to help you turn yourself in the very strongest foundation for your business you can be. To do so, we must Change, with a capital “C”, ourselves. See also articles about personal and business Change in the Guardian here, in Success Magazine here, on Medium.com here , and in LinkedIn Pulse here.

The  very strongest foundation for a great business

To become the very strongest foundation for your business, I believe you must learn to focus on 10 Priorities. They are:

  1. Yourself
  2. Doing Nothing
  3. Having Fun
  4. Saying NO
  5. Guessing
  6. Asking for Help
  7. Managing Money
  8. Managing People
  9. Managing Product
  10. Managing Publicity

Over the next 10 posts I’m going to explain each of the priorities in more detail. The 10 posts are quite short (about 200 to 250 words each) and practical. I hope you’ll take the simple messages of each one to heart and experiment with them in your own life as a business owner. You can do a simple search and read all of the Priority posts at once, by clicking on the category: “Ten Priorities” in the category box in the right hand column.

The life of the harried business owner

First, let me sketch a picture of the life of a typical small business owner for you (BTW, I’d love to hear if you recognise yourself in any part of the picture):

You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. You run around from crisis to crisis, extinguishing brush fires all day long. You feel guilty that you don’t do the stuff you know you ought to do to develop the business. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without your supervision. Customers expect you, not your staff, to be the one who personally does all their work for them, yourself. You actually made more money before you started employing all those people anyway. And finally, you have to do your admin and catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed.

Sucked into a sea of mud

Recognise any of that picture at all? Even if you only recognise 25% of that picture, you’re most likely on first name terms with overwhelm. Overwhelm is no fun anyway, but worse is that human brains in overwhelm are ineffective, they focus on the wrong things and make the wrong decisions and that leads to more stress and overwhelm and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle. Overwhelm affects your health and well-being and that of your families and besides, your business gets sucked into a sea of mud as well.

That’s the general state of things for many small business owners in my experience and some of the reasons many small businesses never develop to their potential.

The power of saying No

Hence I’ve written The 10 Priorities. Accompanying the 10 Priorities are also a series of videos as as seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on national TV, Channel 7 in Australia, the first video can be seen here and others will follow as they are broadcast. I have also created a survey tool to help you find your own Entrepreneurial Type, you can complete the survey here and you will receive a report with your Type and an explanation of the Types and your strengths and challenges as an Eentrepreneur, by email in 24 to 48 hrs emailed to you.

If you make it your absolute commitment to focus on The 10 Priorities in the coming year, you will create a foundation on which you truly can build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your life will never be the same either… I promise you.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

Next week, Priority #1: You

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Laziness, procrastination and time wasting; Time management #2

The three things that get in the way of getting things done when you want to

This is the second article about time management and what to do when you find yourself procrastinating.

In the article last week, here  I wrote about Darren and the two big questions you must ask yourself all the time to become a Doctor of Discipline, and a professor of punctuality:

  1. How much do I want to do this thing?
  2. How much do I want to avoid the consequences of not doing this thing?

With absolute clarity over those two questions, your life will start to change.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

But there is one more step to truly obliterate the concept of procrastination from your life. I’ll illustrate what I’m talking about with another story, this time about myself.

I’ve always done a lot of writing. I believe I am a relatively good writer. I was actually trained as a journalist in the dim distant past. So I’ve had a bit of practice and schooling, and I actually enjoy the process.

But for years I wouldn’t get much writing done at all, because of endless procrastination. Whenever I wanted to write something, I could literally spend days procrastinating and wasting time and getting distracted by everything under the sun.  And I used to beat up on myself like you wouldn’t believe.

Learning to trust myself

Until I realised, one day, that what caused my procrastination, was not knowing what to write. That insight changed my procrastination patterns forever because I started taking a whole new approach to my writing. From that day, I decided to trust myself that something would come out as long as I’d start writing.

And that approach has worked for me ever since. Whenever I want to write something, I simply sit down behind the keyboard, and I start to write; whatever pops into my head, stream of consciousness kind of stuff. Often I have absolutely no idea what I am going to write, but I just start writing anyway, about the weather or what I did on the weekend or the last book I read.

Once I start writing, I have learned to trust that it will come and it always does, and I enjoy writing again, and it is great for my business. Once we have absolute clarity about what we want to do and what consequences we want to avoid, we can often be waylaid by other hurdles to get things done:

  1. We don’t know how to actually do the thing we want to do.
  2. The task we’ve set ourselves is too big, and the enormity of it is overwhelming, and we just don’t know where to start.
  3. We are actually unsure what the task involves.

My client’s hurdles

I see these same hurdles appear for my clients all the time. A client might decide to write a marketing plan, for example. But in the weeks following the decision, nothing happens and the client start to beat up on herself for being such a procrastinator.

Of course, we investigate what’s going on and nine times out of ten, it becomes clear quite quickly, that the client doesn’t really know how to go about writing a marketing plan, what the steps are, where to start.

Invariably, as soon as we expose such a hurdle, the hurdle dissolves. We break the process down to a bunch of small steps; we decide what the first small step is and how to go about taking that small step and the client goes off and makes things happen. Procrastination simply ceases to be an issue instantaneously.

As I said, the hurdles come in many colours, shapes and sizes, but every time I notice a client (or myself) starting to beat herself up over being a procrastinator, I know there is something else getting in the way.

I believe laziness simply doesn’t exist, or at least not the type of laziness we get tough on ourselves over. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a lazy afternoon on a tropical beach, you could even argue that that kind of laziness is what the world needs more of, but people are rarely lazy good for nothing slobs in my experience.

Allowing yourself more time and space to ask yourself the two big questions and to investigate what is going on when you find yourself procrastinating truly will change your life… I promise you.

I used to be the smartest person in the room

throwing a tantrum

Why throwing a Big Fat Tantrum feels like a great option right now

Life feels a bit like I’m wrestling in a mud bath right now. There are a bunch of challenges and big changes in front of Lady D and myself and I’m not finding it all that easy to navigate my way through.

I know about emotional intelligence, and part of me knows that I can trust myself to ride through these challenges and changes, that I’ll come out the other end, and that life will go on. I tell myself that 58 years of living my life as I have, means I’ve earned the right to trust myself to manage, to decide and to do the right stuff.

But there’s also a hint of panic creeping in. What if this time I don’t get on top of the challenges, what if this time I slowly but inexorably spiral down into a deep black hole and what if this time I won’t find the way out?

I volunteer at a homeless support centre in Sydney called the Wayside Chapel, and I have met many people who have spiralled down into that black hole and many who don’t ever find the way out again.

Those people scare the bejesus out of me. I see them drag themselves through life, day in day out, and they freak me out. I’ve sometimes wondered how it’s possible that people allow themselves to disappear down that hole so deeply. I’ve always considered myself “better” than them, because I held the cocky belief I have the inner strength to pick myself up by the scruff of the neck and go and do something constructive.

But right now, I’m not so confident of that strength.

Crawling out of Trouble

And maybe that’s a good thing. To quote Graham Long, the CEO of The Wayside Chapel: “Whenever you find yourself thinking you are the smartest (strongest, most resourceful) person in the room… You’re in trouble.” Maybe I’ve been in trouble and now I’m crawling out!

And I remind myself that the last couple of years have brought significant change in my life and all of that change is bound to have an impact on me and to just allow it to take its course.

But it’s not that easy, is it?

There’s simple practicalities of life to consider.

It may be perfectly healthy to just let things develop as they will, but I need to get new clients, I need to find a new city to live in and buy a house, I need to make sure that things in our house in Holland go well, I need to support Lady D and I need to continue to develop my business and stay healthy.

And I’m not sure how to do all that. Actually, forget knowing how to do all that, I’m confused even about the steps to take, to arrive at that knowledge.

Lean into The Discomfort

In the past, in the days when I was more or less convinced that I was the smartest person in the room, I used to say stuff like: “Lean into the discomfort” and “Being lost in the wilderness is the only way to discover the hidden treasure” and “Trust you’ll have the answers deep inside you”.

There’s nothing like an Inspiring Facebook Meme to remind people you actually are the smartest person in the room, is there?

But it doesn’t feel so great when the shoe is on my own foot, and I’m not feeling so smart these days.

The Wave Form of Life

Graham Long talks about the wave form of life. We go from peaks to troughs and back up again. He makes the point that the impulse to stay on top of the peaks all the time, and never descend into the troughs, is the impulse of the addict.

wave form of life

And I get that, I really do. I accept that as soon as we find ourselves on the top of a wave, we’ll start heading down into the trough, every time. It’s just that these days I feel less certain about the opposite, about climbing out of the trough again. Or maybe it’s that I’m not so sure I’ve hit the bottom of the trough yet, maybe there’s a lot further to go, who can tell?

And while I’m here, what am I supposed to do? Swim? Or let the wave toss me about for a while?

One of the challenges I am currently struggling with is the fact that we’re going to have to leave Sydney, probably NSW, possibly even Australia. I won’t bore you with the reasons, suffice to say it’s a consequence of decisions we’ve made over the past 15 years. I am not regretting the decisions I’ve made, I believe they were entirely the right decisions for my life at that time, but ultimately it now means we can’t stay here.

Blind Freddy Could Have Seen This Coming

It’s not as if the situation we find ourselves in right now comes as a complete surprise. To be honest, Blind Freddy could have seen this coming 15 years ago, and what’s more, at least we have options, many more options than the people I meet at the Wayside have. But I don’t want those options. I resent being forced to choose one of them. What I really want is to throw a tantrum, stamp my feet, throw myself on the floor and scream at the top of my voice, until someone fixes things for me.

Not a good look for a big 58 year old, balding, overweight man (I tried it on my grandkids the other day, they were not impressed).

Lack of Conclusions

For the last hour, I’ve been procrastinating about how to continue this piece. One of the reasons I started writing this post was to help me clarify things for myself, and to make me feel like I was doing something constructive. But I’m stuck now. Not sure where to go next or how to finish up.

Normally, having arrived at this stage in an essay, I’d start drawing a conclusion and a lesson and then find a way to finish with my signature closing words: “I Promise you”.

But now that I’m not the smartest person in the room anymore, that formula doesn’t really work any longer. I don’t have a lesson, I don’t even have a conclusion for you…

Sorry about that.

I’ll just go and throw that Tantrum now… It will make me feel better… I Prom…

AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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Frogmind, the Buddha and my Worries

anxieties worries

What I learned about my anxieties from the annual frog-orgy in our estate

Lady D and my good self have recently become Lord and Mistress of an ancient estate in Europe.

Said estate encompasses a pond, with a little waterfall, some 30 small goldfish and since last week a knot of frogs (Wikipedia informs such to be the appropriate collective noun).

The frogs suddenly arrived in our estate from foreign climes – the same Wikipedia article informs me that frogs are a bit like salmon, in that they return to spawn in their ancestral grounds.

And spawn they have. Since the frog’s arrival an enormous lump of frog jelly has formed in a corner of the pond (I marvel at the size of the lump versus the size of the little frog’s bodies). When the little black embryos become tadpoles it will get crowded in our estate’s pond. Next year’s “return to ancestral grounds” will be a spectacle.

Threesomes and moresomes

For a week, the pond was a hive of activity. There were couplings, threesomes and moresomes at any time of the day or night; lots of water spitting at stuff; pushing, shoving and clambering over the ever growing mound of jelly, and constant low rumbling croacking.

They’ve calmed down a lot by now. The knot of frogs is down to 5 from a peak of 12. The egglaying phase is clearly over, and they’ve started moving on, to the foreign climes they came from (more Wikipedia research required to find out where frogs hang the rest of the year).

What is it like to be a frog?

I’m fascinated by the frogs. I love watching them and listening to their croaking. And I wonder what it’s like to be a frog. Obviously, life is simple, being a frog in our pond, boring even – frog sex life is pretty intense when it’s on, but it’s limited to just a few days of lust in spring. Granted, life, even in our little pond, gets pretty brutal at times – there’s an enormous hungry heron who has the pond on his radar as a good spot for lunch – but it’s definitely simpler than my life.

My life is anything but simple. My life is full of worries and anxieties: anxieties about work, money, relationships and growing old. I worry about our living situations, my kids, my health and The Meaning of Life, and that’s just the tip of my anxiety ice berg.

I imagine frogs don’t have any of those worries.

The ultimate aim of many of the religions and philosophies of life, as I understand them, is to attain a state of mind akin to that of the frogs: Nothing matters, except being entirely present in the here and now. Being here and nowhere else.

Frogs are like that. I can’t look inside their minds, but I’m reasonably sure they have few worries in life, until the moment they see that long sharp beak of the Heron coming down for them.  But even then, it’s all “here and now”.

Frogmind

I’ve read about the Buddha, the Stoics and the Dao and I wonder if I should aspire to the simplicity of Frogmind. Cultivating Frogmind, is that the Ultimate? Is that the essence of the “7-fold path”, the path to happiness and fulfilment, the end of life’s suffering?

I’m not so sure, in fact I’m increasingly less convinced that getting rid of all my anxieties is going to make me happier, more fulfilled, or a better, more useful human being.

I think I am my anxieties. I think my anxieties are what make me human. They’re what make me unique, interesting, useful to the world around me. My worries are what make me strive to get better at life, at work, at love and at caring. My worries drive my creativity and resourcefulness. If I didn’t have my anxieties, I wouldn’t be so concerned about the wellbeing of other people. Without my anxieties I’d be an egoist, maybe a narcissist or even a psychopath.

Frogs are narcissists

I think frogs are probably narcissists, in that they simply don’t care about the wellbeing of others. The only thing that matters to a frog is: feeding, sleeping and fucking, and if any of those activities come at the expense of others, it’s of little concern to them, it causes them no anxiety.

None of this: “I better call Aunty Jane, or she’ll wonder if I’ve forgotten her”, or “Better not have another drink, or I won’t be fresh for my clients tomorrow”, or “I must remember to tell my wife I love her more often, or she might leave me”, or “Better not have that piece of cake, or people will snigger at me”. These anxieties don’t figure, when you practice Frogmind.

I sometimes meet people who have advanced a lot further along the path to Frogmind than I have. I notice their calm unflappability. Nothing touches them. Misfortune strikes, a friend gets angry, life’s challenges beset them and they just smile and carry on. Frogmind, no anxieties. I actually find such people difficult to be with, difficult to relate to. It’s like there’s something missing, something essentially human. In my world, anxiety is the essence of what it means to be human. We are meant to have sleepless nights, to cry, to get angry, to shiver with fear and also with joy.

I think Shakespeare said: “Nothing in life is bad or good, but thinking makes it so”. Undoubtedly that’s true, but without that thinking we might miss out on life’s mystery.

So I’m attached to my anxieties. I want to feel my fears and frustrations and joys and excitements and everything in between. I actually want to wrestle with my worries every day (well maybe not every day, it would be nice to have Sundays off, maybe).

But I do want to wrestle with them. I want to be equal to them, I don’t want them to conquer me, but equally, I do not want to remove them from the arena.

I’m glad I’m not a frog, and I’m glad you’re not either.