My 9-year old daughter is almost a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Hard to believe, but she is within a couple months of earning it. And one of the things students have to do as they get down the final stretch is really up their training and practice of their forms and other aspects of the martial art. For a 9-year old, this is an additional 4-5 hours a week of training.
The other day my daughter came to me and asked if she could skip a day of training. She promised, promised, promised she would make it up at some other point in the week. I explained to her that with our family schedule, that was not possible and she would need to go. She persisted.
After a little more back and forth, I knew it was time to teach her an important lesson about success and one I want to share with you.
I asked if she knew how the people that are great at something, became great. She gave me a few answers along the lines of they work hard, etc. I told her that yes, they work hard, but like her and many others, they have times when they just don't want to do it. They don't want to put in the work or do what needs to be done that day. And the lesson that I shared is that, it is in those moments that the greats separate themselves, because they push through and do the work. As much as they don't want to, they find the will to do it. And it is in those times that they gain the most and become better.
That is the lesson. To find the will or fortitude to push forward and do what needs to be done to get better when everything in you doesn't want to do it. You not only grow in your skill at the work you are doing, but you grow your mind's capacity for what you are capable of.
I can speak to this from personal experience with my own entrepreneur journey and racing Ironman. Entrepreneurship brings challenges every day that you need to push through and if you do, your business grows and becomes more successful. If you shrink from things, then it doesn't.
When it comes to Ironman racing, I am competing at high levels and have gotten myself to within the Top 10-15% in the world in the sport. I have a long way to go to compete with the best, but each race I get better. I have to train a lot. Most days at least 2 hours and on weekends I may have 4-6 or more hours of training at one time. And of course, I have my businesses to run. I cannot count how many times, I get up at 4:30 or 5am in the morning to knock out my training before the day starts and just don't want to do it. But, when I push through and do the work I know it is making me better and after I am done, I am actually more productive and successful in my day.
Develop the habit of pushing through and doing the things you know you need to do when you don't want to do them and you will separate yourself in success.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to do more with less. Whether you are a seasoned veteran with a successful business or a new startup, you are always going to be looking for ways to grow. Some ways of growing are worth the expense. For example, hiring a great sales person. But, there are other ways to grow that can help you succeed in big ways that don't cost anything. Here are 3 of them.
1.) Partnerships/Joint Ventures
One of the easiest ways to grow is to create a partnership or joint venture with another company or entity that has complimentary products or services. You can then bundle your services with theirs an they with yours to create an even more compelling offer. Additionally, you can do a revenue share together when you bring them opportunities and they can do the same with you. You also get access to now sell to their customers and they get access to yours. It costs nothing to do this other than a little time and ingenuity.
If you have a product that people people can buy online or without interacting with a sales team on your side, an affiliate program may be a good way to go. You can pay commission to those that bring sales to your door. This works great with influencers, brand ambassadors, and those with big networks looking to monetize them. All this takes is creating an affiliate page for people to sign up and coming up with a commission structure. You can use Paypal to start as a way to pay commissions and then go seek out influencers and those that would be a good fit with a good audience for your product or service and invite them to be an affiliate.
3.) Current Customers
This last should come as no surprise. One of the best places to get new business and grow is by getting referrals from your current clients. If you take good care of your clients, all you really have to do is ask them. But, you may consider putting in place referral program where they receive an incentive of some kind for referring you if it makes sense for your business. Again, this costs nothing except taking good care of your clients and some sweat equity.
So, there you go. 3 ways to grow your business whether you are seasoned or start up that cost nothing other than time, a little work, and ingenuity.
Everyone has their own hacks and ways to help the to focus and concentrate. One of my favorites is to listen to ambient music. But, over the years, I've found there are certain types that really work for me and have found a number of great long (1 hour+) compilations on Youtube that I can throw on and just let go as I work. Most of them involve movie scores or soundtracks. You'll probably be surprised at what works best for me, but it works and that is all that matters. Here are my Top 5 Youtube compilations for concentrating while I work.
1.) My Go to Favorite: Harry Potter Ambient
2.) My Second Favorite: Fantastic Beasts Ambient, Raining in New York
3.) My More "Upbeat, Yet Serious) Favorite: Bat Cave Ambience, Dark Knight Trilogy
This one doesn't allow it to be embedded in other websites, so here is the link. It's a killer compilation.
4.) My Fun Favorite: Both Sherlock Holmes Soundtracks
5.) My Favorite for Deeper Concentration: Interstellar Main Theme Extended
Structure. Equals. Freedom.
What? How does that make any sense?
When most people hear, "Structure equals freedom," it confuses them as the word structure conjures up thoughts of limitations or making people follow certain terms or rules, etc. But that is not the structure I am talking about. I am talking about the structure you implement into your life that allows you to regain control and freedom on your terms.
Most people don't take the time to plan and decide what they will or won't do on a weekly basis and thus are at the mercy of everyone's needs and whims. From work to family and other actors, our time is constantly getting taken away from us by outside influences. Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the day to do all the things you know you need to do? You're not alone. And this happens because we haven't implemented the structure in our lives to take back control.
It starts with taking your time back. You can do this by setting parameters for those around you for your time and availability. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set specific times when you are available and when you aren't. For example, my teams have specific days and times that I am available for their needs and they can schedule a time with me during those blocks to work through them. I also block times in my calendar for Ironman training every day as well as family time and fun/personal time, etc.. These times are non-negotiable and if someone tries to book time during one of these blocks, it gets denied and then can go grab time in one of the open slots.
In the end, this simple tactic allows me to dictate what times I am available for others and the focus for those times, instead of them just taking any opening in my time they wish. In doing this, I have trained others when I am available and am able to focus much better and be more productive with them during those times. By implementing this simple structure, I have given myself more freedom in my life to be able to do everything I want/need to do and meet all of my obligations in my businesses.
How about you, what areas can you implement structure in your life to give yourself more freedom?
Les Brown is one of my favorite speakers. He delivery of great wisdom is un-matched. I urge you to listen to this message from Les on success and why you've "gotta be hungry" in your life and how you can truly level up. Enjoy!
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!
We are all always looking for ways to succeed at higher levels and be more productive. But, what if I told you the best way to do this every day was to stop working.
That's right. The best way to reach higher levels of success and productivity every day is to STOP working - for a short while.
Most people work continuously through the day and many times don't have that much to show for it. The reason this happens is because we can only focus and work for so long at a time. We need to take breaks to let ourselves recharge and be able to re-focus. Otherwise, we get what is called the "Law of diminishing returns." It is an old economic principle that states that after an optimal level of capacity is reached, every added unit of production results in a smaller increase in output. Basically, once you are performing at an optimum level, the longer you continue to less productive you will get.
This is why we need to take "re-charge breaks" throughout the day. For me, this is 10-20 minutes where I get away from my desk and office and do something non-work related. Sometimes, its a short guided Yoga or meditation session. Many times, it is taking the dog for a walk or just playing with him throwing his stick or ball for a little bit. It really doesn't matter what it is that you as long as every couple of hours, you take a re-charge break.
Putting this into practice daily will make a tremendous difference in your success and productivity. A re-charge break helps you to get energy and oxygen in your system, clear your mind so that you can focus better when you come back, and be at your best.
Try working 1-2 of these into your day where you step away and forget about work for 10-20 mins and see the difference it makes for you!
I was on a call the other day with a large client. It was a big group of people discussing solutions for the future for the client. I know for many that selling and servicing clients via Zoom or virtually is newer to them during these times, but over a decade ago, I took my companies virtual and have been selling and servicing clients that way for a long time.
During the meeting, as the client spoke and talked about the future and their needs, I immediately could "sense" the way the meeting should go and how we could further help them. While others on the call were asking questions that really repeated what the client had just said, I listened and felt the client's needs and the beginning or their frustration as they repeated some things. Working virtually is hard, even if you can see people. It is not the same as sitting across the table. And, if people are just on audio, it is even harder. This is why you have to hone your skills in how you actively listen to voice inflection, tone, things like a sigh here or there, even a deep breath.
After a couple of minutes of back and forth with the group, I spoke up and simply and clearly articulated what I thought, based on their feedback was the best solution. And I brought in other people on the call, that hadn't seem to get what they client was saying yet, and helped them to understand how their skill and what they do could help accomplish the goal for the client. After another 10 mins of discussion and having some fun thinking about bigger possibilities, everyone was on the same page and excited about what we could do together,
One of the most important skillsets anyone can develop, for business and life, is the ability to "sense" others in the moment. This means sensing their feelings, quickly understanding voice tone and inflection, body language - and then being able to empathize where needed and find understanding. I wish I could say there was a magic formula on how to do this, but it really comes from experience. To get good, you have to actively listen and be on high alert to sense the different ways of communication and then figure out find the "sweet spot" in which all parties can succeed. As you do this more and more, you will be able to almost intuit what is needed and work across multiple parties simultaneously to reach the best outcome.
Learning to "sense" others and in business, "sense the customer" may be the most important skillset you can build and foster in your company.
Have you ever read the book, "The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey?"
If you have, you know where I am going in this short post. If not, it is a great read. The book is essentially about how distractions and problems of others can and will become yours if you are not careful.
The essence of the book is about how to say no, delegate, and empower - because it you don't, everything will end up on you. For example, if an employee comes to you with a problem and because you are busy and don't to really want to deal with it, but know you can do it quickly and get back to things - you take it on from the employee to get it done. You have essentially been given "the monkey" and trained that person that they can dump their problems and issues, their monkeys, on you and you will handle them.
This happens all of the time in entrepreneurship. In fact, entrepreneurs are the worst at this. Because we have so much going on and most of the time as high functioning individuals, to stop and take the time to coach someone and empower them to solve their own problem is not something we do by instinct. It is much easier just to take it on ourselves. What is one more thing, right? Wrong. We have to learn to say no, delegate, and empower. Otherwise, the business it just us and cannot scale or survive long term. If you have to do everything, things will eventually break down.
The same thing happens to middle managers, which is what the book is about. They essentially, get saddled with everything and end of working long hours and get burned out. As entrepreneurs, we seemingly have an unending reservoir for work, but that is not healthy. We can and will get burned out.
So, the next time you are being given a monkey. Stop it. Take a little extra time to say an outright no, delegate or most importantly, empower and coach your team to grow and handle these things themselves. If you do, you will find yourself much more successful, have a better quality of life, and have a better business. Get rid of your monkeys!
Every Sunday, I have a routine. It's a simple routine that I have done for over 15 years and it has probably been one of the biggest factors in maximizing my productivity. The routine takes 15 mins to do and can change everything for you.
The first thing I do, is take 5 minutes to clear email out from the previous week. I go through and clear anything that has already been worked on or delegated. I keep a post it for notes and make any notes actions or items I need to do from clearing the email or anything that is left.
Next, I go through my calendar for the last two weeks and look at all my meetings. I do this to make sure there isn't any follow up or actions needed that I may have missed. I write anything down on the post it note.
Once I've done this, I take out a sheet of paper and open my calendar for the coming week. I create 5 columns across the sheet of paper (one for each day of the week). I then go by day and write down all of the things I have to do for that day and what time any meetings are. I write down everything I am going to do, even things like "working out" or "mediate for 10 mins." Literally, everything I will do for that day. I look at the post it note of items that I've jotted down that need action and I add them in to the days that make the most sense to action them. For example, if something is more urgent , then it goes to Monday or Tuesday, something less urgent, later in the week.
Once I am done, I have my week planned with all the action item I need to take each day. I then simply wake up each day and get to work. I then look at it at the end of each day and do any planning for tomorrow. If I finish everything for a particular day and have more time, I can work on anything for the next day and so on.
Taking just 15 minutes to do this plan each week has increased my productivity to levels I never thought possible and allows to get everything done across all my businesses in a normal work week. Try and see the difference it makes for you!
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