How motorbikes and potholes make business fun
Most small business owners are overwhelmed on a day to day basis. They’re drowning in the daily demands of their business and they don’t get to the important stuff. Their families, health and social lives suffer, and even though they’re running around all day looking after the needs of their business, the business seems stuck, spinning it’s wheels.
This is not news.
“Tell us something we didn’t know”, I hear all of you say. You’ve probably experienced this state of overwhelm for many of the days you’ve run your business and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve spoken about it either.
But what’s the way out?
Potholes and Motorbikes
I remember when learning to ride a motorbike, the instructor taught us how to avoid an obstacle on the road, a pothole for example. He said:
“Where you direct your gaze on a motorcycle is where the bike will automatically want to follow. When spotting a pothole, focus on where you want to go instead if you want to avoid breaking your fork.”
It’s a good analogy. I find that by focusing on how we want to reduce our Overwhelm, we often end up magnifying the pothole.
The trick is to focus on the opposite of Overwhelm
I refer to the opposite of Overwhelm as “Fun”, “Fun in Business” to be precise, because Fun and Overwhelm cannot exist side by side. When you’re having Fun you’re not Overwhelmed and when you’re Overwhelmed you’re not having Fun.
Of course you’re very welcome to use a different word than overwhelm, some people think about the concept of Flow, others talk about being fully engaged or you can call it buzzing if you prefer. What matters is that we put a clear picture in our minds of what we want life to be like, rather than focusing on what we don’t want anymore.
So let’s do a little exercise. I’d like you to get out a piece of paper and pen and draw a horizontal line across the page and mark the line 0 at the left end and 10 at the right end.
I’m calling this line your “Fun in Business” scale, but if you’d rather call it the “I’m buzzing scale” that’s fine too.
Write today’s date beside the scale.
This is how we define the scale, 10 on the scale means that the week just past in your business has been as much fun as you can imagine. It’s been a buzz, you’ve been paid well, you’ve done great work, you’ve delivered on your deadlines, your staff are engaged and do great work and are efficient and making money for you, you’re customers love you and they’ve told you so, you’ve been able to get home at normal times and have had energy to give attention to your spouse and kids (if you have them), orders are looking good for the immediate future, you’ve met some important challenges, you feel creative, resourceful and in control of life.
That’s a 10 on the scale.
0 is the opposite of all of that.
Now, I want you to think about the following questions:
- What number on would you give the past week in your business, on your Fun in Business Scale? Go ahead and mark that number on the scale.
- Now that you’ve picked a number, ask yourself, and ideally write down, why you picked that number and NOT a lower number, in other words, what have you achieved already, to get yourself to that number on the scale. Important note: with all your might, resist the temptation to focus on why you are not at a higher number.
- Now ask yourself: If I were to ask myself the same question next week at the same time, what number would I want to be on the scale then? Say you were a 4.7 this past week… Maybe you can get to a 5? Or a 4.8? Mark the number on the scale.
- Last question: Having decided that you want next week to be a 5.3 for example, on the Fun in Business scale, what specific things must you do this week? What specific tasks, actions can you commit to, to get your week from 4.7 to 5.3? (I generally suggest to pick a maximum of three things and each of these things should take a maximum of 1 hr each to do)
A little less overwhelm, a little more Fun next week
And now comes the fun part. If you’ve gone through the little exercise above with me, you will have selected 1, 2 or 3 things to make happen in the week ahead and if you do these things, your week will have been a little more Fun than the immediate past week has been.
Of course that’s all well and good, but you’ve still got to find time for those three things and actually do them.
So, grab your diary, right now and block out time for those three things this coming week. I’ll run through a little example to illustrate the process:
Let’s say one of those actions of yours might be around planning your days better. So maybe an action might be to get up ten minutes earlier every day and before you pick up your phone or go to your email you think about the day ahead… The Big Rocks… What are the big things you need to get done today, and when can you realistically expect to be able to do them?
Such a ten-minute planning moment, before the craziness of the day gets under way, will in most cases improve your feeling of being in control throughout the day and hence increase your sense of Fun in Business. (Make sure you leave plenty of space to allow for the inevitable unforeseens and crises… Just plonk the big rocks in the diary… The rest will slot in around those)
Of course, your actions this coming week might be around entirely different aspects of business and life. Using the scaling approach is a really simple and effective method to help you focus on the preferred future rather than on the past you don’t want anymore. It will help you get into the habit of looking ahead and concentrating on what’s in your control, and to take small specific actions moving forward.
Don’t make the mistake of wanting to do everything at once. Taking one specific small action every week is much more sustainable than trying to take an enormous great big step. Big steps lead to big falls. People that take consistent small steps end up changing their lives … I promise you.