There is a lot that comes at us in life and business. We seem to have problems and things impacting us from all angles. Many times, we ALLOW these things to affect us and we waste a lot of time and energy on them without getting a resolution. We spend our precious thoughts and time worrying about these things.
There is a principle from a wise Stoic that gave a great approach to living a good life. His name was Epictetus. Born a slave in 55 AD, he was granted freedom due to his superior intellect and became a mentor to noblemen and emperors. His most important work was in The Discourses which influenced many leaders to come, including Marcus Aurelius. He boiled things down to a fundamental rule and truth which says, "There are certain things you can control and certain things you can’t control, and you must know the difference."
A lot of people have written about this over the years and expanded greatly on it and Epictetus' writings. Years ago, I was introduce to his principles and the 3 C's. I cannot take credit for the 3C's although I did adapt them and change them a little over the years. Here are my 3C's to handling the problems of life and living better.
Think about those for a second and how true they are. I love the simplicity of them.
There are things we can control in our lives and things we cannot. Why waste time on things you have no control over? Focus on what you can control and do it well.
For those things we cannot control, we can recognize them and their impact or potential impact on us, and cope with them. Not dwell on them. Simply cope with the fact they exist and there is nothing we can do about them and move on to the things we can control and impact.
Lastly, concentrate on what counts and matters. We cannot be distracted or derailed by the things we cannot control or have no sway over. Instead, we must ask ourselves what really matters and what makes the most difference that is in our control and concentrate out efforts there.
If you follow the 3C's, you will find that you will have less stress, be more productive, and ultimately live a better life. Start putting them into action today!
Last week, my long-time business partner, Erik Mueller, celebrated 25 years as an entrepreneur. I have been fortunate to have partnered with him for over 15 of those years. During that time, I have seen him grow tremendously into a great leader and CEO. I think we have learned a lot from each other along our journey and Erik shared some of his best thoughts from his 25 year entrepreneur career last week. Here is what he shared.
25 Years later, and I am working from HOME again… WTF?
As you all know, I have a strange sense of humor.
My letter of resignation to WorldTravel Partners (Now BCD Travel), had my final day of work as March 31st and my first day of being an Entrepreneur was April Fool’s Day, 1996.
It was a few weeks before they were really sure I had quit.
It feels like yesterday, but I definitely have some scars to prove it’s been a long, hard and rewarding journey.
I lived in fear for many years as I grew as a leader. I wanted to make sure everyone was happy all of the time, I sacrificed everything for the customers and staff. My relationships with my wife and child were tested continuously through the first 10 years as I poured everything into growing a business from scratch.
Knowing what I know now, would I go back and do things differently? NO.
Everything I did, right or wrong, put me where I am today, and I couldn’t be happier.
Did I learn some valuable lessons? Heck YES!
There are 5 critical things I learned and got right as I evolved over the past 25 years and I would like to share these things.
#1) Ask For Help
So many people have lifted me up along the way. I would not be where I am today without the help of others.
#2) Put others first
I worked for clients for free, I asked a lot of questions, I sacrificed my salary, I dropped everything when someone needed my help, I worked for days on end to meet a deadline, I paid others before I paid myself (breaking the cardinal rule) and made sure the customers and employees always knew I heard them and would do whatever it took to meet their expectations.
#3) Happy Employees = Happy Customers (Everyone Wins)
“The customer is always right” is a myth and a dangerous attitude to have.
Having happy employees means being a leader and saying NO to customers and opportunities some times. The customer wants what is best for the customer, but that is not always the same as what is best for the company as a whole. Good employees sense what is right and wrong and when their input and advice is ignored, it creates a toxic environment and this reflects in their work and interactions with the clients.
#4) Hire well
Continuing the theme of Happy Employees, a few years ago, we were struggling as a business with very high growth and we were hiring anyone we could find to fill a seat for a number of years.
Eventually, we decided to make Trish our full-time HR person and invested in consultants to teach us world-class interviewing, hiring and onboarding skills. This changed our business overnight for the better. Most companies our size don’t have dedicated HR, but I think it’s probably the most important role for any company of any size.
We found that bad players brought everyone down, and killed culture and respect in the organization. We now take our time to find the perfect fit of skills, personality and desire.
#5) Don’t Freak Out
Bad things are going to happen. Things are going to get worse. Someone’s going to get pissed off.
Nothing makes a situation worse than losing your cool. You can’t think when you are freaked out.
We’ve always joked that our #1 RULE is don’t freak out and our #2 rule is don’t freak out… and these two rules have served us well though the Dot Com bubble burst, 911 tragedy, the financial crisis/recession and Covid-19.
The next 25?
I don’t think I could be any more pleased than I am right now.
Are we growing as fast as I would like? NO, are we doing everything I want to do? NO.
I am proud of what “I” built? What makes really proud is that “I” didn’t build it, I just started it. This team, my friends, my family built this company and continue to make it great.
That’s probably the most important lesson I have learned.
Thank you ALL for your time and commitment to each other and the customers we serve. You make me a better, happier person.
There is a secret to success passed down through history. It has been right in front of you your whole life. In fact, you have either used it to your advantage or disadvantage over the years.
I can tell you this - this success secret has impacted your in some form or fashion throughout your life.
What is the secret?
That which your focus on expands in your life...
The Bible stated is as "That which you gaze upon, you will become." Also in the Proverbs it was stated "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Confucius said, "The more man meditates upon good thoughts the better will be his world and the world at large."
And Tony Robbins has said, "Where your focus goes, energy flows."
I can continue to point out this theme throughout history, but I think you understand. What you focus on expands in your life and success.
So, the question becomes, What are you focused on? What if you started every day by asking that question of yourself? And based on the question, what if you could then choose what you are going to focus on in your life that will make your life better? Or the same in business or your work? What can you choose to focus on that will help your success in business or your work the most?
The big epiphany for me was not the realization that "Which you focus on expands in your life and success," but the fact that you can choose your thoughts to focus on. And if you can choose your thoughts to focus on, you can have a bigger control over your success and results in your life. So, choose your thoughts. Choose them wisely. And focus, focus, focus.
There are a lot of ways to analyze your business. Some are very complex and require a lot resources. Others are pieces of software you can input data into and get results. You can also hire firms to go in-depth to analyze every aspect of your business.
But, there is one older, tried and true, method you can use that will make a big difference every time.
That method is the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The threats are probably the easier part of the analysis to identify and the opportunities are the fun part where you get to brainstorm and think about about the future. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses are probably the most important part - and strengths can lead to opportunities and weaknesses can lead to threats.
Over the years, I have used SWOT to analyze every business I have been involved in and used the results to help plan and reach my success. During that time, I've developed a little spin on how to get the best strengths and weaknesses as I feel they are the most important part of the analysis.
You've probably heard me talk on the Misfit Entrepreneur about the DCP Formula which stands for Discipline, Consistency, and Persistence. Now, I think everyone would agree you need those to succeed. But, what do they really mean? Discipline is doing the things you know you need to do, even when you don't want to do them. Consistency is being disciplined each and every day. But, even if you are disciplined and consistent, you will still hit walls or major roadblocks. And if you are not willing to be persistent in overcoming them, then that is where you stay or plateau.
So, how does this translate to SWOT. Well to figure out your strengths and weaknesses, you use DCP across every area of the business. For example, look at operations and ask these questions. What does discipline for this area look like? One you have it defined, ask, are we disciplined? If you are disciplined, they you can more to consistency and ask are we consistent in this area? Based on your answers to those questions, you will know if that area needs more work or not and could be a strength or a weakness. But, what if you find your are disciplined and consistent in an area, but it doesn't seem to be performing as well as it should? That is where persistence comes in. Is there a major roadblock or wall that is in the way preventing this area from being better? If so, what is it? An opportunity may be to persistent through and finally do what is necessary to overcome it and level up.
You can look at every area of a business with DCP and use to help in the SWOT analysis. Using these two philosophies together creates a very powerful and easy way to analyze a business. Try it out on your business today!
This won't be a longer post, but definitely an important one to share.
I just finished another James Rollins Sigma Force book. I love Rollins. He blends science, history, facts all together to create amazing stories where over 90% of the things presented are true and the storyline is built around it. His books are basically Mission Impossible meets Indiana Jones. The Sigma Force series has 16 books and over the last year, I have been devouring them one by one, getting lost in them and going on one hell of a ride after another.
I have noticed that having this escape has really helped my productivity, introduced me to new concepts, and made me a better "thinker" as it has created more curiosity - especially when reading about of the things that are true, which Rollins puts at the end of each book. In fact, some of the things that already happening across AI, Biosciences, and other technologies are downright scary. Most people don't even know they exist. And it has help me as entrepreneur to see new opportunities I never thought existed.
If you don't have a place to "get lost" in from time to time, I'd suggest you look for one. You'll be amazed at how much it can do for your success. To escape and learn new things, new ways of thinking and new concepts expands the mind. It helps you to discover more and understand more about the world we live in.
If you want to succeed at higher levels, I'd suggest you "get lost!"
Recently, I have been reading books and writings about some of the biggest themes running through society, from studies on how to overcome to safe-spaces on college campuses and trigger warnings to the ways in which people have come to subconsciously and emotionally deal with things.
I have been doing this in order to better understand where society as a whole is and where it is going - and more importantly how to thrive as an entrepreneur now and in the future.
There is one thing that I see that stands out as I continue to study these different themes (some I agree with, some I don't, and some I think are downright ridiculous), is that one of the biggest solutions to many of the issues and problems we bring upon ourselves is to understand and to become anti-fragile. And make no mistake, many of the things that are happening in society are brought upon by ourselves, our sub-conscious, and not taking time to understand each other, but just reacting emotionally in the moment. It is not surprising as we have been conditioned to instantness and thus often react without thinking or even considering if we truly believe and understand the reaction we are having.
This causes us to create and manifest issues in our lives (whether they truly exist or not) that compound upon themselves and for many, serve paralyze us.
We as entrepreneurs must be careful not to fall prey to this pseudo reality. We should not shy away from challenge, conflict, stress and calculated risk, but embrace it. And this is where Anti-fragility comes in. Anti-fragile is, well, the opposite of fragile. But it may not be what you think. Fragile things when stressed or challenged break apart or are destroyed. Being Anti-fragile means that when stressed or challenge the object gets stronger and better. Going through the stress, challenges, conflict, navigating risk, etc. makes those that are Anti-fragile stronger, better and more able to adapt and succeed.
Many of the studies I have read, both social and scientific, have come to the conclusion that solution to many of the issues and challenges that manifest in people's lives is to embrace them and see them through - not run away from them or invent excuses not to deal with them. Now, this may seem like common sense, but it is not what is happening across the world. Why do we need a safe space on a college campus when the whole point of college is to have a place showcasing dramatically different views where students can listen, learn, and choose to make up their mind as to what they truly believe? Suppressing the ability to do this or outright banning it creates fragility, not Anti-fragility. And fragility is not going to help people succeed and reach their true potential in life.
As an entrepreneur, we must embrace every we can to make us more Anti-fragile, to become better, stronger, so that we can lead and do the good in the world we are meant to do. Everything and I mean everything in this world comes from entrepreneurship and I believe entrepreneurs are the answer to much of the world's problems. And Anti-fragility is a key to entrepreneur success.
It's the beginning of a New Year full of opportunity and possibility. What are you going to accomplish this year?
I'm sure you have a laundry list of things and hopefully, you are not like most people that give up on this list after a couple months because many of them have not been accomplished.
I've often said that we live in an "instant society" where we stop the microwave with 3 seconds left - we cannot even wait 3 seconds anymore! And that is the issue. We start the year with all this excitement and list of accomplishments we want to make happen, but because they don't happen right away, many of us just give up.
One of the things I coach people on and help them to understand is this simple mantra, "We overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year." You have to learn to play the long game if you want to succeed consistently over time. This does not mean that we have wins in the short term - sometimes big wins. But, more importantly, it is the smaller wins that add up to get to the larger goal over time. A year in today's age seems like an eternity, but it really isn't. It truly is amazing all that can be done in 365 days.
So, how do you make sure you don't get trapped by our "instant society?" Simple - you choose the long view and delay gratification sacrificing the instant impulses we have been conditioned to have. Today, you can choose the one big thing you will accomplish by the end of the year and then go to work on your little wins, week in and week out to get there, knowing you are going to do it in the course of a year. Ask, yourself, "What will I sacrifice in the short term to get a bigger benefit in the long term?" Answer that question for yourself and you will be on your way.
Remember, "We overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and underestimate what we accomplish in a year."
Here's to your long game success!
Life, in all aspects, is beautiful, amazing, wonderful, exciting, and full of everlasting change. It is also challenging, hard, prone to suffering, and comes with loss.
This past week, I lost my last surviving grandparent. She was a wonderful woman who lived a great life and passed away peacefully in her sleep at 93. As our family came together to grieve and celebrate her life, I started to think about the impact her loss has on our lives and how we cope and deal with it. Of course, as I thought more about this topic, my mind wandered toward the losses we face in business and entrepreneurship.
Coping and dealing with losing and loss is not something that there is a step by step handbook for. We learn how to deal with it in our own way through our experiences over time.
And when it comes to entrepreneurship, one of the best things we can do to help our success is to learn to how to thrive despite losing. In fact, as entrepreneurs, we tend to lose more than we win.
So, how to do you thrive through loss? Personally, I have found a few things over the years that really work for me.
First, is perspective. In order to deal with a loss, you must maintain perspective historically and in the moment. For example, for me this week, I was obviously saddened by my grandmother's death, but at the same time, I took solace in remembering her amazing life and knowing that she left us peacefully and did not suffer. And because I am a believer in Christ, I know that we are all just passing through this life to our real home. She is now home and it makes me smile. Keeping this perspective helped me and discussing it with family helped them as well. We all know death on this earth is a part of life, but we put it aside until we have to deal with it and perspective helps us in those moments.
Second, I do my best to separate emotion from logic. This doesn't mean I throw one or the other out - it just means I separate them and understand them and don't act impulsively in the moment. Emotions drive our actions in life and logic can help us make sure we are acting with the right emotions. For example, there were a number of circumstances due to Covid that made it hard on my grandmother in her final days and made it hard on her family - even keeping some members from being able to see her or severely restricting this ability. It sucked. It really did. And it made me angry in the way it was handled by the center in which was living. But, letting that anger control my actions and thus my life was not something I could do. I had to separate the emotion and ask logically if I should be letting the anger run me during this time. I chose not to let it impact me and got rid of it.
Lastly, find something positive to focus on. We become what we think about and if we focus on the negative, we will get negativity in our lives. During hard times or time of loss in life or business, we must find positive things to focus on. In my case, I was truly inspired and filled with happiness as I looked at all the family members that are in this world because of my grandmother. When you take into account that any one person's chances of being alive are 1 in 4 Trillion, to see all of these incredible people and all the grandchildren that are a result of one woman - it is truly breathtaking. Her legacy will live on for many generations.
Loss is a part of life and business. It is how we cope and deal with it that matters most. Think on this topic for yourself and ask how you can prepare yourself to deal and manage through loss in your life. It will help you tremendously.
2021 is under way and if you are like me, you have been strategizing on how to make it your best year yet, no matter what gets in your way. As I have been planning and starting the year acting on my plans, one thing that has become apparent is how important it is to be focused this year. And when I say focused, I mean making sure that I really understand and know the things that work and drive the results needed to meet my goals, and stay focused on them.
For that, I use the 80/20 Rule. The rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts or activities. And many times, it is more like the 90/10 or even 95/5 rule. But, that begs the question and the one you should be asking - "What are my 20% activities?"
The answer will give you the places you need to focus and double down on your efforts. So, as you get going into this year, take some very serious and focused time to really analyze the actions and activities you take in your life and determine which ones make the most difference and drive the most results in reaching your goals.
Then, put those into action, double down on them. Cut out the noise and shiny objects. Work at them, make them better, and don't stop. Many people think success is this flashy thing, but it's not. It's not Hollywood or what you see on TV. Success is really disciplined, consistent focused application of the 80/20 Rule. It's lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, sometimes, it can be downright boring - but who cares if you are reaching your goals and dreams that you aspire to. It doesn't matter if it looks good or flashy - it matters if you reach the goal or not.
Put the 80/20 Rule to work for you and go make it happen!
If you are sport fan like me, you've no doubt gotten pretty excited when you favorite team is "on a roll." You know what I mean. They seem to have it all going well for them. They are scoring at will. Everything the other team tries doesn't seem work. In short, your team has all the momentum.
This is very easy to see in sports and it's also amazing to watch the changes in momentum in the course of a single game.
Entrepreneurship is the same. We go through and ebb and flow of momentum on a daily, weekly, or even annual basis. Many entrepreneurs fail to notice these momentum swings as they are so mired in the business and day to day. Because of this, they are missing out on one of their biggest secret weapons - taking advantage of and fostering momentum throughout their organization to help them be more successful.
Momentum is contagious. Even watching a sports game on television, you can feel it. You can feel it happening, the energy around it, the good feelings, the excitement, and so on. Think about how you feel when your team is on a roll. Think about how strong and powerful they seem and how you tap into that. They are like a soaring eagle.
It's the same thing in your business. When you business gets on a roll and has momentum, it's up to you as the leader tap into it and foster the energy and excitement throughout the organization. Momentum is contagious, as long as people are aware and have the ability to tap into it. It's your job as a leader to help spread momentum throughout your organization and make it known. The more engaged people are into momentum to longer last and more successful it will be.
Conversely, when you feel momentum slowing down, you need to do everything in your power as a leader to regain or find the next opportunity for momentum. You should always be on the lookout for your next momentum driver or inspiration.
If you make it a point to foster momentum in your organization on a consistent basis, you'll tap into a secret weapon that many entrepreneurs miss and find yourself and your business more successful.
Get out there and get momentum!
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