We have all been there. We reach a point in our lives and work where there is just so much going on across so many areas that we can't seem to keep up with it all.
And in today's fast paced world and seemingly 24/7 instant environment, things can compound quickly and get away from us making us truly overwhelmed.
The worst part is that if we don't do anything about it, things continue to pile up to a point where we start to miss things, critical important things - and more importantly potentially miss out on potential opportunities.
So what do you do when this happens? How do you get out of being overwhelmed and get back on track?
I've one simple exercise that makes the biggest difference and alleviates this problem. It will take you about 10 mins to do.
When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with tons of stuff to do and not knowing which things to work on or do first to remove the piling up of tasks, needs, and/or responsibilities - stop and write everything down.
I'm serious. Take 10 minutes, get away from your office or area of work and just do a brain dump of everything you have on your plate. Write everything down - work stuff, family stuff, personal stuff - get everything you think you have to do across your life out of your head.
Once you've done that, take a look at the items and decide if any don't belong or are really not things you need do, or more importantly, can delegate. Then prioritize the rest of the list from most important to least important and get working on them.
I know this seems so rudimentary and foundational, but it isn't funny how many of us forget to do these simple things and carry on in a state of flux and craziness from day to day.
This one simple exercise will save you so much time, help you to be more productive, and most importantly save your sanity!
Have you ever gotten to a point or felt "cloudy" on things. Almost like you had so many things to do or could do, and you weren't sure which way to go. This happens to a lot of us entrepreneurs because we see opportunity everywhere and "there is always something we can be doing."
When you find yourself in these instances - it's best to take some time to clear your mind and give it a break. Things will clear up if you do.
There are a lot of methods for clearing your mind, reducing stress, and removing the cloudiness, but here are 3 simple ones that I have found to work well and easy to implement.
1. Get a Change of Environment
This one is pretty easy. If you spend a lot of time at the office or in the same place where are working, it is hard break the cycle and clear your mind. If you simply get a change of environment and allow your mind to think in a new place, it can make a huge difference. It may be as simple as taking a walk in nature or working from a Starbucks for a day. One thing I love to do is go to our family cabin and work a day or two from there. There are a lot of options. The key is to just recognize when you need to get in a different environment and then act on it.
2.) Learn Box Breathing
A lot has been studied on taking time to breath each day. So much in fact that our wearables and other devices remind us to take time to do so. One of my favorite breathing exercises is Box Breathing. This technique is used by everyone from special forces to pro-athletes. I love this method because, a.) It works and b.) it is easy to do. Breathing is very important to calm and center yourself and you can do Box in less than 10 mins a day. Here is a good article on how to practice it.
Ok...this may be a "duh" kind of statement, but exercise really is the best way I've found to clear your mind. Whenever I am feeling very bogged down and in need of direction, I go for a long run - 10+ miles. It usually takes about 5 miles before mind clears and its just the sound of my stride and the outdoors around me. It's at this point that I usually get my best answers to problems or best ideas. We all know the tremendous benefits to exercise for many areas of our lives. My advice is to get into a solid exercise routine daily because it will help you to not get as "cloudy" in the first place. Plan to have time each day devoted to your physical health and it will make a huge difference. You will be in better shape, sleep better, have less stress, more energy, and have a sharper mind.
Practice these 3 things in your life and you always be able to move on quickly, have less stress and clearer head.
My recent Half-Ironman event was a big success. I shaved about 20 mins off my time from the same race last year and continue to get better and stronger at the 3 disciplines (Swim, Bike, Run).
I cruising along on my run at about mile 7 when I saw my wife and daughter waiting to cheer me on. There is nothing better, after swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles, and being halfway through a 13.1, than seeing your family there rooting for you and cheering for you. It gives you 2nd, or maybe 3rd wind. I gave them a sweaty hug and thanked and them for supporting me as I ran in place for a minute. Everything was going great. Then my wife said, "Did you hear?" I said, "About what?" My wife quickly told me that a competitor that left on the bike a little while after I had started my ride got hit and killed by a vehicle.
In that moment, knowing I had to run another 6 miles, I didn't know what to do. All I could muster was an "Oh my gosh, what happened!" My wife didn't know, but she gave me a quick hug and told me to be careful.
As an Ironman competitor or any distance racing competitor, there are always dangers. We spend a lot of time running on roads, swimming in lakes or oceans, and biking for long distances on roads with traffic. The worst fear of our loved ones is us getting hurt or killed in a freak accident. And the last place anyone would expect this to happen is in a sanctioned Ironman race where everything is blocked off, paramedics, and race staff all around the course, and every safety precaution is taken.
After the race, I talked to a few of my race friends and no one really new the details. Later that day, we heard that biker had gone outside the blocked off area and was stuck - so it was their fault. But, they lost their life. I can't imagine that. You start a beautiful morning watching the sun come up, do a great mile + long swim and get on your bike to ride. You are in the best shape of your life. Things are great. Life is good.
Then, in one instant, with one decision, your life is over.
As I thought about it in the days that followed, it really hit home to me how precious every moment that we have is...and how all of take them for granted. Heck, I may have even talked to this person that morning wishing them a great race.
I know it is hard to cherish every single moment and take the perspective that every moment is precious in our daily lives as we go from home to work to the activities we do, but maybe we can stop and just really enjoy one moment each day and be thankful for it. Maybe we can choose one moment to truly make count or one action to make count each day. That wouldn't be too hard and our lives, and those of the lives around us would be better for it. Find a way to do that. Find a way to make at least one moment really count each day. I know I will.
When was the last time you a real reality check on your business? Maybe you are doing well and things are going great. Or maybe you've run into some challenges lately and are wondering what you may be doing wrong.
Either way, a good habit to get into each year is to get a fresh set of eyes on your business and get feedback to help you. You should bring someone in from the outside and have them do a top down analysis of your business.
Now, forgoing objections in your mind, such as, "I can do that, but they don't understand our business. They don't understand what we are going through and having to do. Coming in for a few hours is not enough time for them really understand and help us." There is some validity to the argument, but I would say that the feedback you will get outweighs the issue of them not knowing your business as well as you do.
Anytime you get feedback, there are elements of it that you will not use or are not accurate, but there is always something that you will. And that is what you are looking for. You are looking for the little diamond in the rough or that one of two things, or different ways of thinking that can make a huge difference in your business.
Look, I know it is hard to have someone tear apart your business and maybe challenge you about how your do things, but that is the point, right? If you never confront things and do things the way you've always done, you pretty much get the results you've always gotten. Your goal in this exercise is to expose the problems, the skeletons of things that you may have been willing to deal with and figure out how you will. The goal is always to get new advice and a different perspective that may cause you to look at things differently and grow.
So, get a reality check by an outsider at least once per year. It's one of the best ways to break your business out to new levels.
There is one thing that can make you more money than really anything else. It is a small thing that most people forget or do sparingly - and it can be the difference between business success and failure.
What I am talking about? Following up. Following on your sales. Following up on your partnerships. Following up on all areas of your business to make sure things get done. Follow up.
Most people follow up once, maybe, but the real fortune is found way down the line. In fact, according to the National Sales Executive Association:
Even if you cut those stats in half, the bulk of sales would still be made after the 3rd contact. How many times are you or your teams following up? Do you have a follow up strategy in place for your sales? How about for your customers?
Remember, the fortune is always in the follow up, so go our there and make yours!
One of the hardest lessons for most new business owners to learn is the difference between being cheap and being frugal. You can understand why. When a business owner finally starts making some money from the hard work in their business, they want to reap some of the benefits. They want to be paid for the hard work and sacrifice they have put in to that point.
This usually happens in the early stages of a business - within the first year or two. But, the big mistake that most young entrepreneurs or new business owners make is becoming cheap and not spending on the things that will really take their business to its next level. At this stage in a business, it is not the time to stop investing - it is the most important time to invest. A business owner in this stage must be frugal in that they don't waste money, but they spend it on the things that will give a large return in the future.
The other issue that must be watched is short term thinking. Many new or young entrepreneurs are only focused on the next month or two at this stage in their business and are not being strategic about what is needed to 2x, 5x, or 10x their business over the next year or two. You must remember to delay gratification at this stage and invest back into your company if you are in this position.
This one mistake can delay or ruin the growth of a business.
For example, if you are having some success and generating positive cashflow, but you are still doing all of the roles in your company, ie. trying to sell every client, run operations, manage cash, etc., you are going to do a bad job. You will be a jack of all trades and a master of none and your business will flounder. Instead, invest in a great salesperson or contractor and don't worry about paying them commission for their work - it will pay off 10 fold down the line. Or maybe you need some help with administration or getting all your processes and systems dialed in and documented (a critical key to success for a business), then bring in someone, whether a consultant for a period or an operations employee to help gets things dialed in. These are investments that will pay off, allow you to scale, and help you to make massive amounts of money. Don't be cheap and delay these investments.
Lastly, this is also the stage where you should be on the hunt for A-players to form your rockstar team...and almost inevitably one will come along during this time that will cost more than you think you can afford. This will stretch you and stress you, but my advice is get them on-board. To find true A-players that will be as excited and devoted to your business as you, is difficult. They are basically diamonds in the the rough. Figure out a way to get them on-board. If you can't pay the salary, work with them to find a way to compensate them less in the beginning and more over time or give them something they don't have currently (maybe a more flexible schedule or more vacation). Do whatever you can to find a way to get them involved because they will make a huge difference in the future of your business.
Always remember, that there is a difference between being cheap and being frugal. Don't be cheap. Invest in your business and your future, and the rewards will be exponentially more than the little bit your are trying to hold onto in the early stages of your business!
One of the greatest business lessons you will ever get is going to the start with a 5 or 6 year old for them to buy something.
Recently, we were at the store picking up groceries and some odds and ends and my wife told our 6 year-old daughter that she could pick out a coloring book to get. If you have kids, I bet you can imagine what happened next. For next 15-20 minutes we sat there while the little tyke went back and forth on every single coloring book they had on display - picking almost every one and starting to put it in the cart only to stop and go back and pick a new one.
I watched amused as this went on and my wife, who had started to whole thing, go more annoyed to the point she had to do a countdown from 10 or my daughter was going to have the forfeit the book. It literally came down to the wire where on "1" she grabbed one and said "This one!" Of course, as we walked away, she started to second guess herself, etc.
As I watched and thought about this, it occurred to me that a big lesson was unfolding before me. A lesson that anyone who wants to truly succeed must learn and skill they must practice. The lesson? How to make decisions. Great leaders and successful entrepreneurs are decisive. They have the ability to look at all the angles in the moment and weight the consequences of the outcomes of their decisions on something quickly and act.
This is something I have practiced hard over the years and a skill you must learn. Your ability to think in the moment, separate emotion from logic, and see the different angles to make quick, solid decisions is priceless on your path to success. Make it a point to decide firmly and quickly - and to learn when you make a decision that was not the right one. You will get better and better and your success will grow as you do.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Read the quote above again. Think deeply about it....
Do you know what it means? Do you understand the power that is in that short amount of words? It is one of the most powerful statements every uttered and it can change your life.
If you take everything but the first 3 words and the the last 5 words, what do you get? You get, "Watch your thoughts, for it becomes destiny." Everything and I mean everything begins in your thoughts.
Your beliefs, how you feel about yourself, your worldview, your worthiness, you attitude about life, you confidence or lack there of - even your physical capabilities all start in your thoughts. What you think every second of every day determines your world and the life around you.
If you believe the world is stacked against you, it will be.
If you believe that you are not worthy of reaching the levels of success you want, you won't.
If you believe that your life sucks, it will.
If you believe that you are destined to fail in relationships, you will.
If you believe that you cannot climb the mountain, you won't.
What do you believe? What thoughts are going through your head right now? What thoughts should you have?
Change your thoughts and you will change everything. You will change your life and live in a way that you have never lived before. Think and Start Living!
If you haven't had a chance to watch the HBO mini-series Chernobyl, I would highly recommend it. Not just for some amazing history and to understand how the accident at Chernobyl almost took out most Russia and surrounding countries, but for the incredible lessons about life that underlie the whole tragedy.
If you haven't heard of the Chernobyl accident before, that may be because it happened in the 80's. It was the single worst nuclear power plant failure in history which if it wasn't stopped in time would have become the equivalent of hundreds of bombs like the ones dropped on Japan. Could you image what that would look like? Imagine if a force 200x that of what was dropped on Japan unleashed itself in the middle of Russia (or at that time the USSR). Tens of millions dead and a wide portion of the earth uninhabitable for lifetimes.
I won't spoil for you what happened as you need to watch the series. All I can say is that I thought I knew some about the accident, but it was much bigger than I ever knew.
So what was the big lesson? It's simple, your lies will catch up with you. No matter what in life, your lies will catch up with you. Whether in your personal life or business life, it will happen. You may be able to keep a charade going for a while - but eventually, it all comes crumbling down. The whole setup of the soviet nuclear power program was done by cutting corners to save money - and people knew it. They knew that what happened could happen. They just thought it was so implausible that "why worry about something that could never happen." Famous last words "That's never going to happen!" ---until it does.
In your life, it is much easier to tell the truth and do what is right, suffer the consequences, and move on. If you continue to compound things and try to keep a lie going, when it does fall apart, it will happen in a much bigger way and the consequences will be much more severe. It is better to suffer a little pain in the short term than suffer catastrophic pain in the long term. Always remember that.
I recently got to spend some time with Shark Tank's Kevin Harrington at a private event. First, I have to admit, I did not know that much about him or even how he became so successful, but after talking to him 1:1 and seeing him present, I was intrigued by his journey to success and impressed with his incredible transparency of his failures and what he did to overcome them.
First, Kevin, is a mid-west guy from Ohio like me. His dad owned a bar and he basically grew up working there. He was an early entrepreneur in high school and started the first A-Z business brokerage and outsourcing firm. But, what he is really known for is being the wizard behind "As Seen on TV" and the infomercial scene. Kevin is responsible for everything from Ginsu to Tony Little and beyond.
But, as things changed in the digital world and TV became less and less in our lives as things switched to digital, Kevin's business, which had been doing over half a billion dollars per year, started to have trouble and sales started to plummet. Eventually, the business got a point where it was losing money and Kevin had to change things around...FAST. He managed to secure a 1:1 mastermind session with Richard Branson on Necker Island and came out with 3 important lessons that changed his business and re-ignited its success.
1.) Constantly Evaluate Your Dream Team
Kevin was made aware the team he had built that had done so well with TV and print advertising was not a team for the digital age. He had to re-evaluate the team, train them, and/or add or remove people to get the right team to succeed. You should always be working on your "Dream Team," but make sure to be thinking ahead to the future for what you will need.
2.) Embrace Digital Disruption - When you're on fire, rewire
No matter what business you are in, you must be prepared for disruption - in today's age more than ever. An entrepreneur, you should develop what I call a "healthy paranoia" in which you are always hungry and a little on edge. If you get complacent, you will get past up quickly. You constantly have to be ready to re-wire as Kevin said.
3.) Become a key person of influence by raising you profile and building your personal brand
In order to raise your profile, you must have a personal brand. You should treat it as importantly as you do your business. Be strategic. Make sure that what you are doing with your brand helps to lead back to your business and grows you in the areas where you need to focus.
If you practices these 3 things, it will make a big difference in your success. Kevin is a great example!
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