Your time, your kindness and your No, is what creates success

a cup of self love

The Three Secrets to Building a Beautiful Business and Life

self esteem and kindness

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck in your business? My guess is that most of us have, and, if you haven’t, then you’re either knee-deep in denial or some kind of entrepreneurial unicorn. (If you fit into the latter category, feel free to move smugly on to another blog post… but not before you send me your secrets!)

When we first start out on our entrepreneurial journey, we’re told that success is all about the sensible, hardnosed principles and business buzzwords that you’ve likely heard a bazillion times: visioning, leadership, delegation, systems, planning, KPIs, and more. Of course, all of these things are crucially important, but there are three key principles that matter even more.

Three Unrecognised Factors for Success

I believe there are three undervalued and almost unrecognised factors for business success that are far more important than all those clichéd examples put together. These are the secrets to getting unstuck, stepping out of overwhelm and finally building the beautiful business and life that you deserve.

So, what must you learn?

  1. Your time is your business’ most valuable asset.
  2. It’s okay to say “no”, often.
  3. Be kind to yourself.

And that, my friends, is it.

Simple, right? Too simple for some of your sceptical minds, I’m sure. In fact, I can feel the eye rolls and smirks burning through the screen, but don’t write my theory off just yet! Your beautiful business (and life) is on the other side of listening to, and applying, what I’m about to share.

Maximising Time: Your Most Valuable Asset

In my experience, most business owners believe their most valuable asset is their staff, customers, intellectual property, stock, equipment or buildings. All of these things (or people) are incredibly valuable, for sure, but time is the only asset that is truly limited. You can never get more time – no matter how much you try to beg, borrow, hire, buy or steal.

Your time – spent fully focused on the stuff that really matters – is an asset almost as rare as rocking horse droppings.

In order to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to become greedy with your time. You need to repeatedly check in and ask yourself questions like:

  1. Is this thing the best use of my time right now?
  2. What would happen if I didn’t do this thing?
  3. Is there someone else who could be doing this thing instead of me?
  4. What would happen if I did this thing later?
  5. If I do this thing now, what am I sacrificing?

Trust me: it pays to train yourself to ask these questions, often. Make it a habit. You will always have a “to do” list longer than your arm. You will always have more demands on your time than you can physically fit into a good day’s work. That is, of course, if you aren’t an aforementioned entrepreneurial unicorn (in which case, why are you still reading?!).

In short: learn to do only the stuff that matters most.

Saying “Yes” to Saying No

There is no more important skill for a business owner than knowing how and when to say “no”. Why? For starters, it will help you out immensely with achieving point 1 (maximising your time), but it will also pave the way for making your business stand out from the crowd.

Marketing 101 says that every business needs a unique selling point (USP). That’s why it pays to know your fortes and play to them by turning other opportunities down. After all, “a jack of all trades is the master of none”. Focus on your fortes and you’ll reap the rewards of presenting a highly differentiated brand.

Here’s some homework to get you started. Practice saying “no” in front of the mirror and then make a pact with yourself to say it for real at least once this week – or better yet, today! Remember, it is possible to say “no” respectfully, clearly, calmly and without feeling guilty. This brings me to my next point…

Less Guilt, More Kindness

Do you frequently beat yourself up for procrastinating? Believe you’re inherently disorganised, forgetful and lazy? Think your time management SUCKS? Does a cruel voice in your head frequently tell you that you’re not good enough?

You’re not alone. Absolutely everybody (except psychopaths!) has that critical inner voice. Everyone lets their worries, anxieties and irrational feelings of guilt get the best of them sometimes. However, us business owners are particularly hard on ourselves. In fact, I often jokingly say that small business owners are the most guilt-ridden people on the planet because I hear these kinds of self-deprecating words so often in my coaching practice.

That’s why I saved this particular pearl of wisdom for last, hoping you would remember and digest it well. In my humble opinion, being kind to yourself is not only the most powerful antidote to self-sabotage, but your fastest path back to JOY.

Being kind to yourself is not just the most effective way out of feeling stuck or overwhelmed in your business and your life – it’s the only way.

When we allow negativity and feelings of guilt to take hold, we give ourselves ever bigger burdens to carry. We set the bar impossibly high and then we punish ourselves when we don’t hit the mark. We lead ourselves to the paralysing place of overwhelm with too many tasks to complete in too little time and no plausible end in sight.

An overwhelmed brain is not pretty. It’s extremely inefficient, scientifically proven to underperform at every level and an enormous waste of your incredibly valuable time. And while the devil on your shoulder is, in fact, a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe, that doesn’t mean it ain’t a giant pain in the arse. So, how do we overcome it?

The good news is that you are completely capable of dialling down the negative voice and freeing yourself of imposter syndrome (feeling inadequate despite your success). Our brains are surprisingly malleable, and it IS possible to break the habit of a lifetime. Begin by noticing it and catching yourself in the act. Be inquisitive about where the self-doubt could be coming from. Remain compassionate, judgement-free and patient with your perfectly imperfect self while you reframe those pesky misperceptions and then continue on your merry way feeling 10 stone lighter!

I promise you; this soft, cuddly kindness stuff is the most crucial and hard-hitting work of all. Silencing (or at least muting because it’s a work in progress for all of us, including me!) that inner critic provides the space for creativity to flourish and a new level of clarity and productivity to arise. Plus, as soppy as it sounds, you have every right and reason to give yourself a pat on the pack. You’ve made it this far. You’re alive. You’re learning. You’re growing.

Your Permission Slip

So, here’s your permission slip to stop, give yourself a break and smell the roses. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Tell that little voice in your head to kindly move along because you’ve got this, and you ARE good enough. Now, make a note of my TLDR summary below and then TAKE ACTION on the good stuff today.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or stuck and you want to build a beautiful business and life, you must learn to:

  1. Accept that your time is your business’ most valuable asset – and act accordingly.
  2. Say “no” regularly, calmly, respectfully and clearly.
  3. Be kind to yourself, above all else.

This shit works. I promise you.

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More about these topics:

Overwhelmed in Your Business? Maybe you’re not Kind enough

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Kindness makes the world go round

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.

Reflections on being kind by an “older person”

I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot in the past year. Kindness to myself and kindness to others. Here is an article I wrote after a presentation I did on the topic of self compassion in June this year.

I’ve got some further thoughts on it that I’d like to share with you.

I think our society is not geared for kindness. We are urged to soldier on, to get stuck into things and to “Get Shit Done”. That attitude doesn’t encourage being kind to ourselves or to each other. That attitude makes us overwhelmed. Social media is rampant with people being unkind (in spite of the inspirational quotes all over Facebook). Road rage is prevalent and anyone we don’t agree with or is different is cut down by screaming headlines in newspapers and other media.

I’m 57, and maybe it’s time for me to realise that I have become a typical older person who believes we are all going to hell in a handbasket, the way the older persons did when I was 16. Maybe so, or maybe the older persons of my youth also had a point worth listening to.

Bull in a china shop

Overwhelmed in Your Business? You Might Be Lacking in Kindness.The thing is, I haven’t practised kindness very much myself in the past 57 years. I’m known as a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’, I can be loud and obnoxious, quick to judge and I can be cutting and dismissive at times. But I think it’s time for me to change. The challenge came home to me again, today at lunch. I was talking with a very nice person about various people we both know. Some of those are competitors of mine, and I noticed how difficult I found it not to say unkind things about those competitors. I even found it hard to be nothing but kind about people we spoke about who are no competitors of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t really bagging anyone, more like gossiping really, but it was definitely not kind. I noticed myself doing it, but found it really challenging to avoid. It’s so easy to gossip, it’s so easy to make fun of others, it’s so easy to belittle others. It makes for easy conversation.

And it’s unkind.

I had another insight in relation to kindness in the past few months. I spent a lot of time with my mother in her last weeks on earth during July of this year. At some stage she was getting impatient and frustrated. She was ready to go, had been ready for a while and she couldn’t understand why she was still here. It was quite upsetting, because her last days and weeks in this life were at risk of being spoilt by her increasing frustration with not dying yet. I had several conversations with her at the time and at some stage I said to her: “Your death is going to happen when it happens, there is nothing you can do to speed it up, and being angry is certainly not going to make the process go faster, it’s just a waste of your last days” and I said: “How might you get to enjoy what there is, instead of getting frustrated and angry over what there isn’t?”

I impress myself

The question had a positive impact on my mother. She started enjoying her last weeks and she died content. But the question had a really important impact on myself as well (I do impress myself sometimes!). I suddenly thought: What a great question to ask myself in many situations in my life, the circumstances, the business, the people and the relationships… “How can I get to love person X for who he is rather than get irritated for who he isn’t?”

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot in the past weeks and I can feel that I am learning to become a little kinder. I think I only noticed my unkindness over lunch with my friend as a result of having been focusing on this question in the past weeks.

Here’s another way to use the question that might lead to greater kindness: “How can I enjoy my life for what there is instead of be frustrated with what there isn’t?”

Try and ponder that question every now and then for yourself and see what difference it might make for you.

There is a wonderful organisation called: Random Acts of Kindness in Australia. They have a website and a whole bunch of great resources including a one-page sheet with the facts about Kindness, download it here

Kindness is important, it makes the world we live in more liveable, and I absolutely believe we should learn to be kinder to each other and to ourselves.

Further reading:

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

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