Tag Archives: running a business

How to Get Rid of the Garbage that is Holding You Back

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Trite this may be, but true. You must train for a long run, not a dash. Aspiring entrepreneurs commonly make this mistake. They plan months ahead when their window should be years. Of course, such lengthy preparations will have to be recalibrated frequently.

How to Get Rid of the Garbage that is Holding You Back

Not long ago a dental hygienist cleaned my teeth. During our rather one-sided conversation, she told me plaque is an invisible film on the teeth. If allowed to remain it turns into tartar after 24 to 48 hours. Long-term it will destroy the teeth. She knows the plaque is there if teeth are not smooth. To be effective removing it, she hones her tools after every cleaning since the heat that sterilizes them dulls them. Oral health requires a decades-long plan executed from several times a day to one or twice a year.

Every day you accumulate plaque: on your teeth, in your arteries, but also in your mind and spirit. If not removed in a day or two it calcifies. Left unchecked for months and years it can destroy you. You must remove it, frequently and thoroughly. Here is how:

  1. Work on developing the ability to detect when plaque is accumulating. How do you feel at peak performance? What are the circumstances at such times? What tasks cause the everyday buildup? Which situations cause unusual or rapid accumulation?
  2. Build into your day tasks to minimize the buildup. For your teeth this is easy. Consider prevention against mental and spiritual plaque. A proper amount of sleep is a start. Would a short, daily walk help? Can a bike ride with your children clear cobwebs from your mind? Will a quiet cup of coffee while reading a book for 20 minutes before going home after work suffice? Be intentional about what you do.
  3. Create a plan triggered by special situations. If you are approaching a crazy busy time at work, plan now for what you will do after it is over. Looking forward to a vacation or other activity will reduce the impact of the work and heal the damage.
  4. Periodically change your response. While systemized sterilizing and sharpening of dental tools is best, a human being acclimates to routine reducing its effectiveness.

General George S. Patton planned meticulously knowing that once a battle started opportunities would arise that required changes to the plan. By constantly keeping an eye on the long view while stressing daily conditioning during training, his soldiers were fit to take advantage of favorable circumstances.

Question - How will you prevent getting into a mental or spiritual rut?

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Learn How to Love the Tasks You Hate

Life works the way you ate as a kid. The chicken was probably good but Brussel sprouts, are you kidding me? Yet you put up with them to get to dessert. Whatever you are doing: working, exercising, running a business, being married or in a relationship, earning a degree, you still want to rush through the meal to get to the ice cream. But your parents were right. The sugar high of the dessert cannot sustain you without the foundational elements of the meal: the soup, salad, and main course.

Learn How to Love the Tasks You Hate

I was struck by this idea while trying to expand the list of non-dessert foods my five-year-old daughter will eat. Currently, they can be listed on two hands and one foot. And she will only eat cucumbers if they are slathered in salad dressing. As I sat there frustrated she asked me what foods I hated when I was a boy. She had me nailed dead to rights.

There are three types of tasks you need to do to be successful: those you already know you like, those you already know you hate, and those you have not done because you are afraid to try. It is no problem getting motivated to do the tasks you like to do. But the other two categories are a challenge.

For tasks you dislike, you have five choices:

  1. Do not do them and be content with the level of success you have already attained.
  2. Force yourself to do them, which means you probably will not muster up much enthusiasm to do them well.
  3. Farm them out. But you'll still need to know how to do them well enough that your can train and monitor the person handling them.
  4. Make them a part of some other task you like to do. For example, when I first started cold calling one of the things I did was listen carefully to try and detect an accent and then see if I could accurately identify where the person came from and learn about other places.
  5. Do them so often you learn to love them.

For tasks you are afraid to try, identify the source of your fear. Perhaps the activity stirs up memories of a particularly difficult event in the past. Remember, your taste buds matured as you got older and you now like a broader range of foods.  So too your ability to handle unfamiliar tasks is much greater than you think. Maybe the one you are afraid to try will become a favorite. And if not, you can always use option three or four above and slather it with something you love.

There is one difference between life and eating as a kid is unlike a meal.  Without learning to do all the tasks necessary for success, thoughts of wealth, fame, or whatever else you seek may make you salivate, but you will not achieve them. Without the foundational elements that nourish and sustain you, dessert will elude you.

Question – How do you motivate yourself to do the tasks you dislike or are afraid to try? Please respond below.

How to Multitask Effectively

Have you been very focused on getting something done when someone calls you or walks into your office with a new task? Do you find yourself feeling pulled in too many directions at once? Have you ever had the feeling that if just one more person adds to your to-do list you will explode? Well, you are multitasking. It stinks, doesn’t it?

How to Multitask Effectively

Like all of us, I struggle with trying to get more done. I have two choices: work longer hours or accomplish more in the time I spend working. If I use the first option someone else, usually my family loses out. For me, that is unacceptable. So I have to complete more tasks in the same amount of time. Here is the rub: I do not want to sacrifice quality.

Multitasking as it is usually understood is a myth. Trying to get two things that require close attention done at the same time is counter-productive. As magnificent as the mind is, it still takes time to shift back and forth between two problems. The primary rule of multitasking: Avoid it if possible. Focus on completing the task at hand then move on.

If you routinely do things that are repetitive or mundane, what Dave Crenshaw calls background tasks, now you have the opportunity to double up.  Here are the steps:

  1. When you plan your day, identify background tasks such as exercising, housework, or walking your dog.
  2. Pair the background task with another one that takes concentration. For example, while doing my stretching and strength exercises I listen to podcasts. I come up with writing topics when I run.
  3. Avoid planning background tasks when you need to be interacting with other people.

What do you do on those days when you lose control of your schedule? I recommend each time you have to change tasks, stop for 15 to 30 seconds, close your eyes, recall a quiet place you love, then continue with your day. Think of it as double-clutching your brain. It will allow you to shift gears more smoothly.

Question – What techniques do you have for more effectively getting things done? Please respond below.

What Decisive People Know About Success that You Don’t

Which is better - drilling down to perfect your idea before execution or getting a solid plan outlined then acting on it? Just about everyone knows that a plan is essential for success, but as General George S. Patton, Jr. said, “a good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Since business, like battles, rarely goes according to plan, in a planning versus performance face-off, default to performance.What Decisive People Know About Success that You Don’t

Remember in grade school when the teacher asked a question and you were brimming with enthusiasm to answer, squirming in your chair until called on to speak? Now think about how bad you felt when that answer was wrong. Is it any wonder that after a few times getting crushed by giving an incorrect answer you became much more skittish about speaking up unless you were absolutely sure you were right? Unfortunately, that lesson works against your success in business.

Patrick Lencioni argues that clarity about your plan is more important than perfecting it. Especially when working with a team, success comes from each member being clear about his part. Tom Hopkins says you should “put a little GOYA into your daily routine.” What is GOYA? Get Off Your Backside (polite word for Anatomy.)

Even if it turns out you made the wrong decision or had a bad plan, the experience and information you will gain by executing it will help you make adjustments as you move forward. You can only get to your goal by taking action. In most cases, as long as the next two or three steps are reasonably clear, you do not need to see a well-defined path all the way to your objective to get there.

Get moving, encounter obstacles, push beyond them. After a while, look back. You will be amazed how far you have come.

Question – How do you know when a plan you have formed is ready for execution?

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Take the Plunge: Action = Improvement and Success

“You know Facebook? Well, I had the same idea way before Zuckerberg.” I bet you have heard someone make a similar claim. So if it is true, the person is worth $1 billion, right?

Take the Plunge: Action = Improvement and Success

When I started my first business too often I found competitors had gotten clients I wanted. After a short time, I realized that I was spending too much time preparing. I needed to act, even though my scripts and skills were not perfect. Here is the rub. Even when I thought I was properly prepared, frequently I found the situation going in an unanticipated direction, making many of my preparations useless. I finally realized that I was placing too much emphasis on each potential client rather than on the process itself. In reality, there are always more prospects.

There are only three states of mind in business: we are sure we are ready, we are uncertain about our state of preparedness, or we know we are not prepared. We have to be careful not to use the last two as excuses to procrastinate. Preparation can be an infinitely long process. How do you avoid this pitfall? Here are some steps:

  1. Prepare by improving skills so you can work the process better – If you want to be successful in business you have to be superior to your competition. If you want to make money in sales you have to learn to prospect.
  2. Remember the perfect is the enemy of the good and of moving forward – Perfection is an illusion. For example, do not be fooled into thinking that if you wait until you are in the right frame of mind you will prospect better. Most of business is a numbers game: the more people with whom you interact the more successful you will be. Consistently acting will get you closer to perfection than any other thing you can do.
  3. Unless you are certain more preparation is crucial, ACT! NOW! – Not sure you are ready. Move forward. You will never figure out if you are ready by waiting. Think your sales script needs improvement? The only way to know is to work it. Are people ready for your fantastic business idea? You will have to take a leap of faith at some point to find out. No amount of research will be conclusive.

Question: What do you do to prod yourself to take action?

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