Tag Archives: advice

Slow is Smooth: Creating Good Habits

Anything big can be broken down. Big dream, big goals…it’s not that they’re out of reach precisely, as is you’re far away. It isn’t always that they’re pipe dreams, ones too grand to happen, but sometimes you hold the goal too close to be able to look clearly at the pathways you need to get there, and for that you need distance (perspective), persistence (grit) and work (action) to close the gap.

Grit can be sourced from many things. From positive (belonging to a supportive and encouraging group of friends or family, having a goal you’re really invested in) to grey-negative (Out of sheer, seething spite to show people up, for instance.) Grit varies from person to person.

And for distance and work to work, you need to notice time. Pay attention to the way you habitually spend your time, and you’ll get a clear view of what you are or aren’t doing to get your goals realized. As much as we can say about what’s important to us, an actual record of what and where we spend our time on is a much more reliable indicator of what we prioritize.

And one very small, very powerful way to close the gap is the power of good habits. Continue reading Slow is Smooth: Creating Good Habits

How To Make Boring, Unsexy Progress

When people speak of others being overnight successes, what it boils down to is the fact that all of a sudden, everyone is talking about that particular person. In today’s language, these people became viral in a good way.

Breaking the phrase down, ‘overnight’ and ‘success’ hits all the sweet spots in our hindbrain.  ‘Overnight’ appeals to the part of us that want things fast and easy. ‘Success’ gets us to imagining what it’s like to be admired, or wealthy, or famous. Or all three.  Witnessing an ‘overnight sensation’ also works in the same vein — ‘sensation’ taps into the feel-good mechanism in our brain, which lights up whenever we get a hit of something that pleases us or makes us feel good about ourselves. “If they can do it, I can too!”

It rarely matters to the public how hard or how long someone’s been working on whatever it is that helped them become a success; When somebody becomes a star, being in the spotlight can cast a deep shadow over the work done behind the scenes and throughout the years. All the audience can see is how flattering the lighting is, and how put-together and happy the star of the show looks, and how inspiring the story is.

And aside from sound-bytes and maybe a short montage,  you don’t usually get to see the frustrations, disappointments, wrong turns and stubborn grit it took to get them to the point where they finally caught the public’s attention. The editors and technicians see to that.

The thing is, the way ‘overnight’ comes across, and adding the temptation of ‘sensation’ into the picture, that all glosses over one small principle that gets overlooked and yet can help us become successful to ourselves and for ourselves.

‘Get-rich-quick’ and ‘get-famous-quick’, or ‘overnight success’ can sometimes end up as ‘one-hit wonders’ and ‘flash-in-the-pan’ phenomena. Consistent and steady progress makes for meaningful, solid work that lasts. Continue reading How To Make Boring, Unsexy Progress

The Secret To Your Best Performance: Intelligent Self-care

In an article written eight years ago, we spoke about tailoring for performance. Then and now, the basic principles are still holding. If you can’t find your comfort where you can, you make it. If you can’t find ease in your daily work load or everyday routine, take steps to create ease. You’ll last longer, you’ll do so in a healthier state, and you’ll be in a better position to lead your business.

Food for thought:
Elite athletes very rarely do it alone. To get to that level of performance requires a support team, especially at the Olympic level. For the right diet, rest, proper self-care, and winning mind-set you’d expect the following: a dietician and/or a personal chef, a physical therapist and a sports-specific  doctor, and a coach, just to start. This team would help support the athlete as they go through all the relentless hours of training to burn in muscle memory and raise their performance to the best it could be.

You may not be an athlete. You may not have the funds for such a support team. But you can still  take the actions necessary so you’re able to perform at your best on a consistent basis. And honestly, who else would be in a better position to act on what’s best for you than you?

Food for thought, part two:
Life can be stressful, but stress shouldn’t be a default state for you. Yes, it’s true that there are people who seem bullet-proof when it comes to stressful events and situations, but if you’re not included in that particular group, you still have choices on how to make life easier to weather.  It isn’t just however many road-blocks you encounter, or how many holes you have to dig yourself out of, it’s also the feeling that you’re not in control of anything.

On road-blocks and holes:
Going along with this scenario, how will you know if you’re a good driver? See, in a sense, this is what tailoring is about. Learning how to drive  is learning a particular skill that enables you to move and act independently. Learning how to ‘tailor’ in this sense, helps you have an easier journey. You prepare, you act, and you put yourself in a position to choose the best way the job gets done. You’re in control.

  • What, in your particular situation, is your ‘driving’ skill’? Are you prepared for dealing with ‘potholes’ and roadblocks?
  • What are the common obstacles you frequently encounter? What were their effects? How did you deal, and what did you to prepare if they come up again?

Related Series: Lessons From Defensive Driving (Parts one, two, three, four and five.)

 

The same principles for having a good road-trip still apply to having a good routine that supports you in performing at your best.  A clear goal is a definite end-point,  so doing stuff that takes you further away or in the opposite direction should obviously tell you you’re doing it wrong. Making sure you’re equipped for the length of the drive tells you to plan for pit-stops (breaks) and refuelling (rest and recharge), as well as being well-supplied with what you need to make the drive safely and comfortably.

You can only be on the road for so long without resting. Your tank can only reach a certain level before you need to refuel. Running on fumes won’t do you or your car any good, and will lead to problems over time. Identify what it is you can control, prepare for what you can’t, and make sure to take of yourself so you arrive in one healthy piece.

Without the mixed metaphors.
Between where you are  and the place you want to go, there forms a space where you can carve out a better situation for yourself with your actions. There are multiple approaches to improving how you do things, just as there are many ways you can draw a line between Point A (where you are), and Point B (where you want to go.)  the more specific you can be about the things you can do to make your work easier,  the better the fit to your desired goals.

First, you have to actually pay attention to what you’re doing. You want a better performance, you want to be more productive, you need to establish a baseline so you know what you’re starting out with. You do this by:

  • Observing yourself and what you do regularly every day.
  • Taking note of when you’re at your most awake, and when your energy slumps.
  • Looking at the activities where you encounter the most problems, and the ones which take your time and energy but offer little in real returns for you. (Hint: This is where the stuff you can stop doing resides.)

Then you look at these things, individually, and in connection with your whole habitual set-up.

  • Address the things and attitudes that hold you back.
  • Look at the empty habits that don’t add anything of positive value to your work or to your life. If they’re not helping, they’re weighing you down and taking up energy you can use for better things.
  • Address the stuff  and especially the habits that weigh you down, whether physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally. Or chronologically.
  • Look at things that can shave time off doing, or save time by letting go or outsourcing if you can’t.
  • Look at stuff that helps you perform better, and try to make them a habit.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
There’s always a price to be paid when you abuse your resources. Always. Whether it’s a battered immune system from too much stress, brain-fog, back-pain, or creeping weight-gain, there’s always a rebound effect — and that’s only the physical aspect. Abuse erodes and uses up healthy reserves, whether we’re talking about your body, your finances, or your mental and emotional health.

This push to do all the things and then brag about how much sleep you’re not getting is a loser’s game. Discomfort is not a virtue. Comfort is not a sin. We have to take care of ourselves. Nobody wins an award for burning the candle at both ends.  Be smart. Be creative. If you can’t find ways then make ways to take care of yourself.

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Give Your Website A Boost Behind The Scenes

It’s easy to overlook things when you’re engrossed in the day-to-day events  of running a business or focused working on projects, so we’re just taking a few minutes of your time to share a few pointers and help you with your website:

Website health-check.
A website works while you sleep.  Barring DoS attacks, a cut cable somewhere on the ocean floor, or Skynet dropping the boom — or you forgetting to renew your  hosting subscription — your business website is up 24/7/365. An asset like that deserves proper care and maintenance to keep on working for you the way you have it designed to.

If you haven’t done it yet, just take the next three minutes to write down all the maintenance dates and details for your website  — and then put copies of the information where it makes sense to put them, whether as an extra page in your operations manual, an index card in your day-planner, or a laminated printout for your files.

For added assurance, reinforce the data with reminders on your preferred calendar app or your business planner.

  • When do you need to renew your hosting, domain name, and security certificates?
  • Are your security details updated for your hosting, security and domain authorities — down to the correct email address, updated contact numbers, and even the credit card expiration date, if it comes to that?
  • Are the charges for those items  on an auto-debit or automatic billing cycle?

Continue reading Give Your Website A Boost Behind The Scenes

Breaking Down Your Big Picture

Imagine a mosaic.

A mosaic is a picture or pattern that is built, piece by piece, from small broken pieces of material like glass or tile which are set in mortar.  Historical records and restored ancient architecture usually show mosaics were mainly used in decorating walls, floors, and ceilings — although mosaics today aren’t just restricted to those areas, or those materials.

Helpful examples:

Now, what do mosaics have to do with running a business?
Continue reading Breaking Down Your Big Picture

Stay On Target: Planning For Business Growth

In a recent article, we touched on what you can do to make the most of your goals for this year. The sum of it, roughly speaking, was this:  Specificity and clarity —  applied to means and methods — practically guarantee a smoother journey.

You break down an over-arcing goal in stages to make it more specific and time-bound, and then break those stages apart in smaller steps. This helps guide you to make consistent, sustainable, and steady progress, and is also great help for when you feel the monotony wearing you thin.

  • You feel lost? Refer to your project ‘map’ to re-orient and guide you.
  • You can’t quite focus or decide on what to do? Just look at the next step to take.
  • You feel down? Look at the work you’ve already put in towards your goal. You are working on your dreams. Keep going!

Essentially, with this system you’ll be setting yourself up to win. Regularly, and in small ways.

Let’s say you want to do a better job — how do you plan on going about it? You want to keep your skills updated and sharp — how are you going to do that?

It’s like using the method, “Don’t break the chain.” Come up with a clear, specific goal and work it backwards.  You  write all the steps down, and every day you take a step. Just one.

We also touched on other things like:  Focus your energies on what would simply not happen without you.  Find sources you can trust, find mentors, find or create a focus group.  Test things out by making  small bets.  Test, try, work at it. You can only go so far with theoreticals. You have to do the actual work to learn first-hand.  Broaden your experience, and keep learning to think for yourself.

Continue reading Stay On Target: Planning For Business Growth

What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

You can generally depend your business to have a particular rhythm to it, once you’ve been at it long enough. Sure, there are the kinds of businesses where you can’t really have the same day-in, day-out predictability of so-called desk-jobs, but even then, when  you’ve gotten the hang of stuff, you develop the kind of insight and mind-set, and prepper skills that helps you handle the ups and downs that come with your chosen field.

In emergency situations, you may even had the foresight to have laid out back-ups and alternative, just in case. In the immediacy of things when surprises, mix-ups, or emergencies happen, you’d do well to practice on-field triage: attending to the salvageable and savable while assessing the ‘least injured’ — and checking the irrecoverable just to make sure.

Triage helps when you’re in the crunch. In non-crunch time, disciplined ‘triage’ is simple prioritization skills:  You do the important and helpful, and drop the unimportant and seductive. This lighter-hearted ‘triage’ can help you especially when bad days happen. Continue reading What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

Deep Thinking And Your Chosen Path

Think of the following sexy, sexy business phrases: positive leverage, maximize gains, optimized performance, superior ROI, positive strides, minimized risk and overhead. Guaranteed returns.

Have they sparked excitement? Did they perk up your interest? Are you willing to do the real work of thinking out the best possible future reality for yourself and then do the work necessary for  these events to come true for your business?

Or have you been turned off by hitting Business Buzzword Bingo with all these arguably hackneyed corporate cliches?

Your reaction depends on  the emotions that you felt in response to these words.  If you’re interest, you stay on the page. If you’re not, you probably just close the tab. Right?

If you automatically brush things away because ‘everyone knows they’re all BS anyway‘, then maybe you’re letting old habits and patterns of thinking steer you in a direction you don’t really want to go. As  someone who runs a business, that kind of automatic brush-off can blind you to possibilities. There’s a big difference between filtering information and rejecting information right off the bat.

It all starts from the inside, so you need to go deep. Continue reading Deep Thinking And Your Chosen Path

How To Power Through Unpleasant Tasks

Being an online entrepreneur is never a walk in the park.

Entrepreneurship is a tough calling. In a world still struggling with the rapid shift brought by the internet revolution, finding your way in the new  landscape being formed isn’t always done with a map, especially with the ongoing flux within mainstream thinking, plus a business culture that was formed in the industrial age . You have to make your own choices, some of which may go against what you were taught by your family, what you learned from school,  and the cultural values you absorbed growing up.

To be a successful business-owner means you need  an unflinching self acknowledgement of your  capabilities.  You are human, you have human limits, and in spite of all the tech at your fingertips you cannot do everything or know everything. Knowing what you are good at, and knowing the true value of time versus money, you can plan to optimize your strengths and have counter-balances in place to check your weak spots.  You can then outsource lower-value activities and be freed to focus on mission-critical and mission-essential issues. Continue reading How To Power Through Unpleasant Tasks

Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

In 6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service we shared the following points on establishing, maintaining, and keeping good relationships with customers by using the following rules:

1) Take the long view for your business and build for it.
2)”No,”  isn’t an easy thing to say, and knowing when and how to say it is a valuable  skill.
3) Keep current of market research.
4) Ask for feed-back regularly.
5) Customers stay when they get their needs met and their wants satisfied.
6) Have a solid plan to handle complaints.

It can sound sort of hokey to say, “Be someone your customers can trust and depend on to give the honest, good service and provide products that work as they should.” That should already be a given, right?

Yes, but that message shouldn’t just be said at the beginning of the relationship, but iterated through action in every successive encounter with the customer. You can’t just say something like that and have the customer believe you.  And here’s yet another ‘cliche’, “Actions speak louder than words.” Customers may want to believe you, but you have to prove it each time they initiate interaction with you, whether it’s a purchase, an inquiry, or even a complaint.

You say you have the best product, the best one for their needs.  You have to prove it with your product performing well, solidly and consistently. You say you value their presence,and embrace their patronage, you have to act in a way aligned with what you say. Continue reading Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business