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!
The other day it snowed a lot overnight. Aside from waking up to a cold morning and taking in the sight of the fresh fallen snow on the trees and all around, I didn't think too much of it. I had to get to work.
About mid-day, my daughter came into my office and ask if she could go play outside in the snow. I said, "Of course" and we got her all bundled up to go outside. My office has a big window that faces out onto the front of our acreage and I could see my daughter playing and having a blast with her sled and other things in the snow - by herself. She was having a great time.
I was in the middle of wrapping up some things for the day and could have done more. There is always more to do, right?
But, instead, I decided to play. I threw my winter clothes on and surprised her outside. For the next hour, we did sled races, built snowmen, ran around with the dog - basically, all the fun you could have. I forgot about any work, but towards the end watching her and the dog run around, a was struck by inspiration. I had been working on solving a business problem earlier in the day and couldn't quite get it right.
But, by just taking some time to play and get away from things for a bit, the answer became very clear. It was almost too easy.
We often forget how important it is for us to take time away, even during the day, and give our minds a break. More importantly, we often forget how important it is for us to play and have fun in our lives - and how that can translate to even more success.
Make sure you take time to play and give yourself and your mind a break - daily if you can do it. You'll have less stress, give your mind a break, and most importantly, find that playing will help you be more successful and prosperous in all areas of your life. I wouldn't trade those moments with my kiddo for anything!
As we get into the end of the year and the holidays, I think we all welcome some real downtime. A break from it all. A break from the pandemic, a break from the rigorous day to day to keep business going, and a break from social media, the news - the bombardment of life.
This year will offer us a good opportunity to take that break, even if it is for just a few days or so. And when that time comes, it's always nice to lose yourself in a good book.
With that said, here are 3 of my favorites to enjoy during your break.
Top Fiction Book
I have really enjoyed delving into the James Rollins Sigma Force series of books this year. If I had to describe them, they are part Indiana Jones, part Jason born. And they are also "faction," and this is what I love most about James - he meticulously researches to find truth from history and science and builds an awesome story around it. I am always amazed at how much of the things in his books are true. So, not only are the stories/adventures page turners, I get to learn things as well. His latest book is called the Last Odyssey and is the book I started with before going back and starting the series from the beginning. The nice thing about the Last Odyssey is that you don't need to read the series to understand what is going on, so it is a great place to start. But, if you want to start from the first book, pick up Sandstorm. The "opening scene" of the book is awesome.
Top Non-Fiction Book
My top non-fiction book for the year is The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather. It is about the man who volunteered to go into the Auschwitz death camp and bring it down from the inside. I have mentioned this book before, not just because of how amazing the story is and how well written the book is, but because of what you will learn about what really happened in the Nazi death camps and get a healthy dose of reality and lessons for life. This book is not for the faint of heart, but is a must read.
Top Book to Make You Think
My top book for making your thinking and looking at society in a different way is The Parasitic Mind by Gad Saad. I admit, I recently started this book, but it is already incredible. It is all about how easily common sense can be destroyed by "idea pathogens" in our live and what we can do about it. It really helps you to better understand reason and become a better independent thinker. Dr. Gad Saad is one of the top behavioral science and marketing thinkers of our time.
Anything can be learned. I'm serious. Anything.
If you want to be a rocket scientist, you can learn to be one. If you want to learn how to pilot a plane, you can learn how. If you want to learn how to be a better entrepreneur, you can do that too.
So, then, why if anything can learned, do so few reach their goals, dreams, or new heights to which they aspire?
One word, Desire. They lack the desire, the will, to do what it takes to learn the things they need to learn to reach the goal. They don't want it bad enough and thus are not willing to put in the time, effort, sacrifice needed to learn. Anything can be learned - we just really don't want to learn it.
I'm reminded of a great quote by Robert Heinlein, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
He's right - specialization is for insects. We can and should learn to be much more than we are today. All it takes is a little desire, will, discipline, and commitment.
Look at your life and ask, "Is this it? Is this all I am destined for?" I think you know the answer. You have so much capability and personal power waiting to be unleashed. Don't waste it or the time you have.
Anything can learned, so get learning, and put it into action!
The habits we have in our lives shape us, our lives, and our success. I once asked Zig Ziglar's son, Tom Ziglar, "What is the fastest way to success?" His answer was, "The fastest path to success is to replace a bad habit with a good habit." It's that simple. You pick a bad habit, replace it with a good habit, and then cement. You can then move on to the next. Think about if you did this multiple times in the course of a year - where would you be? You'd be in a completely different place that you are today.
So, with all that said, here are 3 habits you can start doing today that will make a major difference in your life.
You've no doubt heard about the power of writing things down and journaling. Many of the most successful people in their fields do this every day. Why? Because it works. When you write things down and get your thoughts out of you on paper - it helps you to crystalize them and get them in order so they aren't just bouncing around in your head. Taking 5-10 mins a day to write your thoughts down will help you be better organized, know what to prioritize, help you to know yourself better, and help you be more successful. My favorite tool for helping someone do this is the 5 Minute Journal. It makes it easy by giving you the structure, so you don't even have to think. And it takes 5 minutes to do each day! Click Here to Get a Copy!
This is an easy. Start going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. Set your times and adhere to them, even on weekends if you can. Studies have shown that your quality of sleep directly affects your energy levels and mental capacity. By going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, you create a habit of consistency for your body and its sleep rhythms that will help you be more rested, have more energy, and be more alert and on your game each day.
Commit to Personal Growth
You know this one, but it bears repeating because you can do it today. They say you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with. I like to take that further by saying you are not just the sum of those you hang out with, but of the books you read and the things you put into your mind. And if you don't take the time to put anything into it, you cannot learn, grow, and get better. If you want to increase your success levels, you must grow yourself. Start small - pick one new book to read a quarter. Then maybe one per month, and go from there. Listen to podcasts like the Misfit Entrepreneur or take courses on things like Udemy. Whatever you do, commit to a personal growth plan. As Jim Rohn said, "Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you rich!"
There is just no substitute for great customer service and taking care of people. I was recently reminded of this when dealing with a provider in one of my businesses. They lost their relationship with me because of how poorly they treated me.
The company offered a service I use to help manage my business and then one stopped access to it for the business. I checked and everything was up to date, there had been no issues or anything that we could find. I then got a cryptic message saying they had suspended service and to get service back up, I needed to provide more detail about my business.
I thought this was odd, so I got on the phone with their support and discussed why they needed the detail they needed. They were less than helpful and would not give me a good answer. Instead, they said that in order to re-instate services, I would need to provide the requested details. They told that if I did so, in 24 hours things would be resolved and that it would be restored. I obliged and gave them the detail they asked.
3 days later I got a message back from them stating they needed even more detail and wanted things that didn't even make sense for the services they were providing. At that point, I was done. They were rude, not forthcoming, and did not live up to their promise in that if I provided what they originally wanted, things would be re-instated.
This company lost a long-time customer simply because of their service and the way they treated me and my business. It today's age, it can month's to find a customer and seconds to lose one. It is much easier and less costly to keep a customer and care for them than it is to lose them. This company forgot that rule.
In any business, customers are your lifeblood and you should love them and do everything you can to take care of them. It's a simple lesson that gets forgotten more and more - There is no substitute for great service, period!
The Halloween season wouldn't be complete without a post about skeletons!
But the skeletons I want to talk about today are different. They are your business' skeletons.
Business skeletons? What are those?
Your business skeletons are the things that you know have needed fixed or done in your business for a long time, but you have not gotten around to or keep putting off because you can continue operating with them the way they are. They might a lack of processes or not being buttoned up legally or in accounting. They could be keeping a line of business that should be removed. They could also be something that is embarrassing and to confront it would bring it to light.
Business skeletons exist in a lot of different ways and if not dealt with will eventually cause issues and come out. It's best to confront them head on now, than to wait til later.
What kind of issues can they cause? Well, let's say you've built a nice business, but have been lax in your contracting with clients and thus have no consistency or even records of contracts in some cases. If you have a problem with a client you have nothing to go back - no clear set of rules for your relationship. Or worse yet, maybe you go to sell the business, but have no record of contracts with your clients - the buyer would definitely red flag that and your value would probably not be what you expect.
Another example is not delegating and creating processes with systems for others to follow. As your business grows, you will reach a breaking point and could get crushed under the weight of tasks that fall only to you making you a giant bottleneck and limiting the growth of the business.
Every business has skeletons. The key is to admit it and fix them long before they can become an issue. Yes, they are often things we don't want to deal with or don't seem as important as the day to day in the business - until they are. Deal with them now and you'll find it much easier to grow, scale, and succeed!
A friend of mine sent me the video above. It won an Oscar for Best Animation. And as I watched it, it made me think about an old adage I used to talk about, called R.A.K.
It stands for Random Act of Kindness. As you watch, think about how you can incorporate R.A.K. into your life daily and make a difference - Because YOU CAN.
What a world it would be if we all practiced R.A.K daily!
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