“Why are we able to answer emails on Sundays, but unable to go to the movies on Monday afternoons?” -Ricardo Semler
Picking up a lazy dinner from a suburban pizza shop one Friday night about 8pm, my phone rang. I glanced at the screen to see my boss was calling from Singapore and I remember thinking, “What did I forget to do before I left work?” Well, nothing, as it turns out.
My boss was calling for an update and requested I do a few more things before I left the office. “Ah, Cynthia, I’ve already left the for the day. I’m nearly home. I just stopped to get some dinner”. Silence. After a long pause she said, “Why aren’t you still at the office?” I said, “It’s 8pm on Friday night!” Cynthia sighed, let out a little chuckle and replied, “I’m so sorry. I forgot about the time difference”. I was in Sydney, some 3 hours ahead of my boss.
It was 2007 and this call highlighted the blurring boundaries between my work and home life. I wasn’t the only one with ambiguous office hours or location. In fact, many of my colleagues were starting to work from home and they had trouble switching off after work.
I recall Bill Gates was being bombarded with email around the same time and wrote that information overload was indeed a problem expedited by advances in technology. In Microsoft, ironically, Gates’ comments were circulated via email!
Dozens of my colleagues were so confused by email being accessible 24/7. Instead of it freeing them to check email when they had time, most of them thought they had to reply to incoming mail instantly. Managers, who had trouble sleeping, would send emails after midnight simply because they were awake, not because they expected a reply. Indeed, my conversations with several of these managers later confirmed my suspicion. None expected a reply before the next working day.
In his book, The Seven-Day Weekend, Ricardo Semler poses an important question and in doing so raises a fair point. “Why are we able to answer emails on Sundays, but unable to go to the movies on Monday afternoons?” After all, if we let work creep into our personal lives, isn’t it fair if our personal lives follow us to work?
Email was just the beginning. Technology has advanced significantly since 2007. Now we are trying to make sense of chaos in instant messaging, project management, collaboration, social media and even working with robots and AI -robots that never need to eat or sleep.
Christian Lous Lange, a political scientist who passed away in 1938 said, “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master”. The speed at which technology has advanced and been adopted has multiplied since then but Lange’s quote is as true today as ever.
Work creeps into your home and personal life through technology, if you let it. If you want control of your time and your life, isn’t it time for you to start putting boundaries in place? Start training technology to respond to the way you want to work, not the other way around.
Perfect entrepreneurs know, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. But there is no such thing as a perfect entrepreneur, even you mam or sir. You probably know this, if you’re a perfectionist yourself. Perfectionism is not just having high standards. Often it means setting impossible standards because of your fear of what it will mean to release something to the world that’s not perfect.
Smart entrepreneurs know that sometimes you need to get out of your own way and you can’t do that if you’re a control freak. Aka the perfect entrepreneur. Let’s face it… if you’re a perfectionist, you like to be in control. Consider successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. All extremely intelligent and capable people, who at some point had to get out of their own way and let someone else take control of something.
Busy bees, these entrepreneurs
Every week, I meet business owners who tell me they’re super busy. They know what they need to do for their business but they’re too busy working in it to step back and take care of the bigger picture. Often the more staff they hire, the busier they get. They’re probably even high achievers and excellent at what they do.
Sadly, I’ve seen so many businesses die, even though the owner is great at what they do. You can’t build a great business if you keep ignoring the big picture. Many of these clever, talented, high achieving people kill their businesses or even more tragically burn themselves out.
Anything but not everything
You might believe to your core that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. But you need to consider something else. You might be capable of doing anything but you can’t do everything. Time will not allow, no matter how competent you are. You need to decide what’s crucial for your success and learn to let go of the rest.
I don’t care how capable you are, how sophisticated, how organised, how anal -you will need to decide where to focus your time and energy. If you want your organisation to grow beyond you or if you want to build something that’s valuable long after you die, you will need to stop doing everything yourself and concentrate on the essentials.
You’re not Superman. You’re not Wonder Woman. Even wearing your undies on the outside of your pants won’t make it so. Sooner of later, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and be reminded you are human. In most cases, it’s physically impossible for you to do everything. In an extreme case, you might even burn out (most likely for high achievers).
So, you probably get the point I am trying to make by now. You can’t do everything yourself nor do you need to. Work out what’s essential for you to do and those other things you need to get off your plate. Once you clear your plate (metaphorical) of the non-essentials, you make room for what matters.
Stop. Before you start working on anything that lands in your desk, remember, smart entrepreneurs play CARDDS. CARDDS is an acronym that stands for Complete, Automate, Redirect, Delegate, Dismiss and Schedule. These are the CARDDS smart entrepreneurs play to help them win the day.
Clear your plate with CARDDS
CARDDS is an acronym to help you remember your options when dealing with anything incoming that lands on your desk, in your tray, in your email inbox or otherwise gets your attention as something that should be done.
Notice I used the phrase should be done, instead of needs to be done. Other people’s expectations can often be a trap when we’re deciding how to best prioritise our time. When you use the CARDDS acronym, remember to make these decisions based on your own priorities and needs, rather than someone else’s “shoulds” and expectations!
How long will it take you to complete this task?
If it’s important and can be completed in under 2 minutes, go ahead and do it. Make sure it’s not interrupting your most important work when you do it though. Don’t even give these things your attention until you have enough time to complete these small tasks and organise the bigger ones.
How often will you need to complete this same task?
Automate any action you will need to repeat frequently. Consider how long it will take each time you stop to repeat this task compared to automating it once. Unless you’re a robot, doing mindless repetitive tasks is not the best use of your time.
Does fulfilling this request contribute to your core business?
Redirect anything that distracts you and your colleagues from fulfilling your core business. A simple and polite redirect is just a matter of pointing someone to a helpful source or someone who is better suited to help them, than you. You’re trying to be helpful but make it clear this is not your responsibility.
Important: Do not treat this as a recommendation or endorsement. If you recommend someone, you may end up being held partially responsible for your endorsement -even though you have no control over the outcome. So you might just subtly suggest by saying, “Have you tried…” and leave it at that.
What if no one else can help but this is still not your core business?
Nothing becomes your responsibility by default. It is not your fault or your problem if no one else can help, unless this request directly contributes to your core business. Sometimes you will need to say a polite but firm. “No”. Say no to anything that is unimportant. Remember your core business, your most important work and who you work for are paramount. Everything else detracts from this focus and should be dismissed.
Is this your core business but not your own responsibility (or strength)?
Delegate anything that contributes to your core business but is not your personal responsibility (or strength). Ensure whoever you’re delegating to has the appropriate skills, confidence and authority to take care of the assigned task or project. Before you delegate, make sure you consider if this assignment will be the best use of this person’s time. Do not delegate anything if it will detract from this person’s contribution to your core business.
Do you need to bite the bullet and do something yourself? If it is going to take longer than 2 minutes, remember, you may not need to do it right now. Schedule an appropriate time in your calendar and treat it as though you would any other commitment. Make sure you stick to it.
What’s the best use of your time?
Stop trying to be the perfect entrepreneur. Think of yourself as a conductor, curator or someone else who concerns themselves with the big picture. Your most important role as an entrepreneur is to make sure all of the parts of your business work well together. That’s essential if you want to make something great.
Next time an email hits your inbox, a piece of paper lands on your desk or a client makes a request, pause. You need to decide which of these incoming requests is the highest and most valuable use of your time.
Play your CARDDS to make sure you clear your plate of anything that distracts you. Remember there are many options to get back in control of your time and work on what’s most important.
Soft skills, which have lasted for centuries, will continue to be essential in the new world of work. Instead of looking at what’s changing, maybe we need to look at what doesn’t change.
Soft skills are basically the skills that make us most human. They’re not technical skills that we can learn on the job. In fact, they’re far more complex and difficult to learn than hard or technical skills. I believe that’s what makes them infinitely more valuable.
Let kids play
According to Tynker, a website dedicated to teaching kids to code, 60 million kids have signed up worldwide. It’s great that we’re teaching kids hard skills, however, I’m worried we are neglecting the human side. What happened to letting kids be kids? Are we teaching them to be more like robots than people?
I recall as kids we used to play outside, sometimes in the heat and the cold. Occasionally we were bitten by something, burned, grazed or the one that hurt most -had our heart broken by that kid we had a crush on. We would build things, have petty fights, form alliances and talk about our crazy dreams. We learned about others. Our experiences taught us who we were too.
What will never change?
Our experiences might have been primitive as kids but funny enough, they’re similar as adults. We all have physical and emotional scars that accumulate over time. People still make irrational decisions based on emotion. None of us have let go of our primitive reptilian brain, which controls the most basic of our survival needs. People are people -and always will be.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO is famous for his long term approach to building his business. He once remarked that people so often ask the question, “What’s going to happen in the next 10 years?” But few ask the question, “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” It is this second question around which Bezos has built his company. In my opinion, soft skills have barely changed in the last 1,000 years. I’ll argue it’s unlikely those same skills will change in the next 100 years either.
“You can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO
Our changing environment
So, for all the hype of how the world is changing, it’s probably not changing as much as we think. For example, I have explored the issue of poor focus previously but people have always had limited attention.
People are still people
Shop signs were invented to attract customers, who might have been walking past. Newspaper headlines were designed to get readers’ limited attention. Limited attention spans have always been our thing but now they’re being exploited in high volume.
In this regard, our behaviour hasn’t changed. What’s changed is the overwhelming demands and incoming stimuli competing for our attention. Our environment has changed dramatically but not our underlying behaviour for how we deal with that.
Below are some of the soft skills that will help you in the new world of work and long into the future.
People have more distractions and less time to think now. We’re learning how to live in a world with constant stimuli. Even when we participate in traditionally passive activities like walking, jogging or watering the garden, we can take our music with us, listen to a podcast or radio. Very few people give themselves time to think, reflect and become self aware.
Self Awareness is so important because it’s not just our life experiences that matter but what we learn about ourselves upon reflection. Following some of my toughest life experiences, I have been able to reflect and learn so much about myself and what I am capable of.
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”
Henry David Thoreau, American Author
We’re living through the information age and knowledge is available in abundance. Creativity and original thought is in much shorter supply than information but these things are essential to solve new problems and challenges.
The skills and discipline you require to work on specific tasks differ from those needed for creativity. There is a time for completing tasks, however, there is an equally important need for creativity. You can stand out in the new world of work if you know how to create and allow yourself space to be creative.
Interpersonal communication is a skill that I believe is in rapid decline. I believe many people are starting to understand the limits of social media, texting, 10 second videos and other new forms of ‘communication’. If you can learn to grasp interpersonal communication skills, you will have an advantage when it comes to reading facial expressions, body language, tonality, symbols and more.
So little of what’s being said is ever just words. Communication has so much more meaning than we can express in text and emojis. Communication skills will be an asset in the new world of work.
Empathy is about understanding someone else’s point of view and how they feel. In the new world of work, we have a melting pot of physical traits, nationalities, religions, cultures, classes, sexualities, political persuasions and viewpoints.
Understanding that different people, in different circumstances, have different motivations will be essential if you want to lead a team today and in the future.
Information overload sometimes halts our decisions because we have too many options to process sensibly. When you know how to seek, filter, organise and prioritise incoming information and make a decision, you will stand ahead of your competition.
First, you need to know which decisions are the most important ones to make, so you don’t suffer from decision fatigue before you get to the most important ones.
Then, you will ideally make the right decision -although that will depend on your options, the information you have at your disposal and the urgency of the decision. Still, if you have a process and the skills required to make sense of information in todays’ world, you will stand out.
We live and work in an over-communicated, over-stimulated and super-busy world. Effective multi-tasking is a myth, yet 9 out of 10 job ads seem to request someone who can work in a fast paced environment and is a ‘good multi-tasker’. There’s no such thing. Focus is a skill that’s becoming rare.
In future, as always, focus will be essential to finish tasks, complete projects and achieve goals. Anyone who possesses the skill to focus will be able to command their own time better and lead teams to do the same.
“Embrace your imperfections. We are not machines.”
Lorin Morgan-Richards, Children’s Author
Soft skills for tomorrow
My list above is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure you can think of a few more soft skills, which will serve us well long into the future. In an age when many people fear a robot might take their job, there is only one way to stand out.
This is not a case of, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. We can’t stop robots from taking our jobs by becoming more robot like. The only way we can win in future is to develop soft skills and traits that make us human. These are the skills machines are trying to replace but they’re still a long way from that day.
Do you set SMART Goals? Have you ever missed a goal that you worked on so hard, for so long? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. I want you to know that missing your target was not your fault. In fact, I want you to realise you never failed at all.
I want you to pause for just a moment and ask yourself:
Would you like to turn your dreams into goals?
Do you want to be successful?
Would you like to set goals that motivate you?
Do you want a clear roadmap to get you there?
If you answered yes to any of those, don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re still reading, so I’m guessing you want to be successful but there’s something holding you back. Does this sound like you?
Don’t worry. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be less than 1 hour away from setting your SMARTEST Goals EVER.
I’ll help you turn your dreams into goals and layout a clear roadmap for your success. Does that sound good?
Hi, my name is Danny. A few years ago, I had the same struggles as most people when it came to achieving my goals. I would always set goals using this same old formula. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not.
Where did it all start?
I owed around two thirds of my annual income at my worst point. It was my own personal financial hell. Let’s rewind. My debt started at a modest $200, when I first used my credit card.
10 years later, my personal debt had multiplied, over and over.
In fact, each time I maxed out my credit card, the bank would send me another invitation to increase my credit limit. I accepted.
Then I got 2 credit cards because I wanted 1 for business expenses. Unfortunately, while my business was profitable, cash flow was killing me. I never had quite enough cash in the bank to clear my credit card.
My crazy debt
Then, I began unpaid training for my next job. For 8 months,
I had to sit on my credit card, as I didn’t have an income. But it didn’t end there, of course my debt followed me and just grew bigger, like a balloon.
I purchased a car using something called salary sacrifice, which meant I could legally pay off my vehicle and fuel expenses before the government took tax. I thought this was so clever. Well it was, until…
I changed jobs and in my new job, I couldn’t salary sacrifice any more. So, that meant my salary sacrifice agreement became a lease any my lease blew up like a balloon. Unlike a normal car loan, paying off a lease like this means you pay years of interest upfront. I couldn’t even pay it off early.
After 3 years of making payments on my car, I still owed more than the original purchase price of my car.
I was in my own financial hell
Enough was enough. I was sick of my debt. The time had come for me to make a better plan.
As far as I was concerned, I was in my own financial hell. I had piled up just as much guilt for myself, about my situation, as I had debt.
Just so you know, I had wanted to pay this debt off for a long time. I was in a world of pain and I wanted this debt gone. I wanted to feel proud of where I was in my life. Many times before I set a goal to clear my debt. Each time I had a specific, measurable, achievable target and a clear deadline. I failed, again and again.
I realised I wasn’t failing. So many experts told me that all I needed to be successful was the SMART formula. They were wrong. It wasn’t enough to have SMART Goals.
I knew what I wanted. I could picture it clearly in my mind. I had no problem working out what I wanted but I was struggling with how to get there.
Climbing out of hell
That’s when it hit me. I realised I loved the idea of reaching my goal but I wasn’t clear about the process. The parts I was clear about, I didn’t like. I had to find a way to love the process if I was going to achieve my goal.
In a movie Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino delivers a powerful speech to a football team. In it, he delivers one of my favourite lines. His team is losing so badly, Pacino describes it as being in hell. The following quote is from his speech.
“We can stay here and get the sh*t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time.”
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday
The first time I heard that speech, I thought wow. Anything is possible if you break it down into a step-by-step plan.
I had to stop thinking of the road ahead in miles and start thinking in inches. I was sure I could jump from one stepping stone to another, if they were only a few inches apart.
I created a roadmap, which helped me clarify my goals, break them down into small, bite sized pieces, and take action on them. I read dozens of books, took courses and listened to people who I knew were successful. I took action and tested a lot of what I learned. I kept what worked, tweaked it for my own needs and threw out the rest.
SMART goals just aren’t enough
I could see how much time I needed to pay off my debt and I had a clear action plan to make it happen. I set goals but I learned as much about missing my goals, as I did about achieving them.
Why did I miss my goals? Because SMART goals were only part of the truth. Management gurus kept repeating the same formula, over and over, but something was missing.
Why then, when I was failing, did people drag me through that same tired old process for setting goals?
Perhaps the managers and the people I sought advice from were happy where I was. Maybe the other things I discovered actually were a secret. Maybe they didn’t realised it was possible to achieve goals and find fulfilment, all in the same ‘brush stroke’. I’m not sure.
Why do people keep pushing SMART goals?
Most big companies want you to set goals and they are happy for you to think, as long as you stay within the box they designed for you. They’re afraid you might find out there’s life beyond those 4 walls. You might find work that’s more fulfilling than what you do now.
They run the risk that you could stop working on what they want and start working on what you want instead.
Once I added a few missing ingredients to my own goals, I quickly paid off my debt. Within 2 years, I achieve 2 more BIG life goals. I married my beautiful wife and we saved a house deposit. Less than a year later, we moved into our dream home. I was ticking off goals faster than I ever thought possible.
I want to share what I know, so people like you can get what you want. That’s why I created my Goal Setting Masterclass.
Who else did this help?
My goal setting techniques worked for some other people I know too. One retiree hand wrote a testimonial for me because she wanted more out of life and I helped her do that.
A personal trainer I know told me that since he and his family have used the techniques I taught to achieve their goals AND free up time. How is that possible? Because they have laser like focus on the things that will help them achieve their goals and they say NO to everything else.
Once I had the manager of a local heritage listed function centre approach me 1 full year after my workshop. She explained how I helped her prioritise an extremely busy workday. She still uses what I taught her every day.
How else did this help me?
Not only did setting goals start to make me more successful but I was finding greater fulfilment.
I was able to prioritise and focus more intently in what I was doing. Living life on purpose.
That’s exactly why I created my Goal Setting Masterclass, so I could share what I learned with others and help them get more out of life.
It took over 100 hours to create this course
It took me months of 5am starts (I do this before my day job) to put the content together for this course. Not to mention the dozens of books I read, so I could find and test the best content. I spent hundreds of dollars on books and courses, and hundreds of hours reading them.
My local bookshop owner ordered some of these books from overseas, even finding some out of print books.
It was all worth it because now you get to take my course, Goal Setting Masterclass, which selects the best bits. You don’t need to invest hundreds of hours in studying because I have already done this for you.
My course takes less than 60 minutes
Now you can take this course in less than one hour and be well on your way to achieving your goals. I have made the content in this course clear and concise, so instead of investing all of that extra time reading or studying, you can get to work on your goals right away!
Why take my Goal Setting Masterclass?
Here are just some of the benefits you will get when you take my course:
Define 7 Steps to Master Your Time, so you know what you need to work on to get back in control of your day
Set Your SMARTEST Goals and find 3 secrets hidden from the SMART formula
Discover the 6 A’s of Goal Setting, which will increase your chances of success
Define Your Success, so you can be crystal clear on what you want and go after it
Use the Power of Visualisation, so you can start building your dream in your mind, even before it’s real
Start Living on Purpose, so you know what to prioritise and where to focus
What do my clients say?
Don’t just take my work for it. Here’s what others are saying:
” [Danny Hile’s Goal Setting Masterclass] course so far is very thought provoking. And I am now ready to take some action.”
Tony Heywood, Director at Optimal Bookkeeping
“[Danny Hile’s Goal Setting Masterclass has] Great content ! I incite the teacher to launch a course video about the whole content of his book !”
Vay Ross, Udemy Student
“Thanks Danny for your [Goal Setting] Masterclass. I am grateful to have come away inspired & looking forward to making actions on my goals.”
Michael Cluff, Sales Team Leader
Would you like to get access to my Goal Setting Masterclass? Do you want access to:
My 10 video lectures?
Full slide deck to download or print?
1 page goal setting template? AND
Bonus first 3 chapters from my book?
Well, for less than the cost of a single cheap pub or fast food meal, you can. I know I said it’s my duty to share what I know but if I don’t charge you a small amount, you won’t value it. If you don’t value it, you might not follow the plan.
Imagine how much more this course is actually worth, if it helps you finally achieve your BIG life goals.
What’s the value of this course?
Now, it would be impossible to show you ALL of the benefits of taking my Goal Setting Masterclass right here but I want to show you some of the things you will experience once you’re on the inside.
Of course you’ll get all of the video lectures and my complete course. Plus, you will receive a one page goal setting template, a chapter from my book AND lifetime access to me -so you can ask any questions you want about my course and I will answer.
A good coach could cost you $2,000 or more. If you read the DOZENS of books I have about goal setting and achievement, each book would cost about $25. Even similar courses to this one cost $200 or more.
Okay, but what’s the price?
If ALL this helped you do, was achieve your financial goals, would it be worth it?
If ALL this course did, was help you with your personal health and fitness, would that be worth it?
If you ONLY became more successful in your career, would it be worth investing the small fee to take this course?
Yes, it would… but the step-by-step process I share in this course is universal. You can improve ANY area of your life you really want to by setting effective goals and doing the work it takes to get there.
You can take this course right now for $24.95. Get started.
PLUS, you get a 30 day money back guarantee. If you’re not happy with the course, Udemy will refund your money -as long as you let them know within 30 days.
Buy this course now because I’m not sure how long I can keep it at this price. It’s going to go up in price soon.
So, click on the button below. You will go to my course on Udemy, where you will be able to purchase my course and start watching it instantly. Don’t put it off. Start working on your biggest goals today.
P.S. This is not for everyone BUT if you’re a motivated person who wants to get the job done -this is for you.
Is ‘hustle culture’ killing entrepreneurs? Ask any self employed person how they’re doing and you will usually get a reply, “I’ve been so busy”. If you were to go into their workplace for a day and observe them, you would probably find that’s true. Everyone is busy.
How many of those projects and tasks, that entrepreneurs busy themselves with, really propel the business forward? We have a new breed of gurus telling new entrepreneurs that the secret to success is hustle. So it seems success can then be measured by the long hours you spend in the office. Lack of sleep, poor physical and mental health and social isolation can now be warn like badges of honour.
There’s only one problem with this approach. It’s bullshit. Do you think the only difference between you and the billionaire, Richard Branson, is that you worked 12 hours each day and he worked 13? Do you think if you sleep less, skip exercise, eat fast food and stay late at the office you’re going to be successful?
High Achievers are Most at Risk
I know you probably think I’m talking about someone else. You’re an extremely capable person and you have got this covered. Well, if you’re driven and successful, I am talking to you. High achievers like to think they’re immune to burnout but in reality, they’re often the ones most at risk.
Look, a Unicorn!
In fact, many of us look at Silicon Valley only see the unicorns (privately held companies valued at over $1 Billion). But working in technology start-ups is not all beer and skittles. First, unicorns are the exception to the rule. More companies will fail than those that succeed. Second, many workers in these large tech companies report they are suffering extremely high rates of job burnout.
In fact, ‘Blind’, is an anonymous social app for tech employees. They conducted a survey with 11,487 participants, who were asked, “Are you currently suffering job burnout?” 65% of respondents from Expedia were. 60.4% at Snapchat, 60.16% at Lyft, 59.53% at Amazon, 57.94% at Airbnb and 57.46% at Apple, just to name a few. Yep, that’s right. The beer and skittles are just to keep people at work longer.
Burnout Among Entrepreneurs
Burnout is not just a problem in Silicon Valley. Researchers recently conducted a survey of 326 entrepreneurs (95.6% had fewer than 250 employees), who were members if Business Networking International (BNI). They wanted to find out what makes entrepreneurs burnout. 25% of those surveyed replied that they felt moderately burned out, 3% felt strongly burned out. So, over one quarter of entrepreneurs are burning out at some level. Those findings were published in Harvard Business Review.
If you’re an entrepreneur you need to ask yourself, “How long can my business keep running like it is? How long could my business survive without me?” They’re important questions. After all, what would happen to your business tomorrow if you suddenly had a heart attack? What would happen if your circumstances changed and you were required to take care of a sick family member? Who will carry on your important work tomorrow if you cannot?
Who Will Drive Your Business?
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Looking after yourself is just good business. If you work alone, chances are you are the engine that drives your business. If you lead a team, good leadership needs to start with you. If you want your team to show up for work fresh, enthusiastic, focused, energetic and motivated -you need to lead the way.
What’s Your Highest Value Contribution?
Most entrepreneurs I know start a business because they have something uniquely valuable to offer. Do you? For an individual, I believe that’s where passion, ability and reward come together. I like to think of the point where they intersect as your ‘highest value contribution’. It’s the most valuable thing you can do with your time.
Daniel Priestley introduced me to the idea that every one of us has a unique backstory in his book, Key Person of Influence. We each have a unique set of skills and experiences. In other words, the thing that makes your business or your workplace so special is you… and “there’s no one you-er that you” (thanks YOUI).
Busyness is a Trap
So, what happens to your firm if you’re always busy, responding to incoming demands on your time? You might be failing to serve clients properly or provide the value you promised. If you’re not making deliberate decisions about how to invest your time, you might not be working on the right things. In short, you might not be making your ‘highest value contribution’.
Being busy can make you feel stressed, overwhelmed and put you at risk of burnout too. Welcome to the world of information overload, 24/7 contact, anxiety, technology induced attention deficit disorder and the drugs we can be subscribed to fix them all.
Carter (Psychology Today, 2013) listed the symptoms of physical and emotional burnout including chronic fatigue, insomnia, impaired concentration, physical symptoms, poor immune system, lost appetite, anxiety, depression and anger. If you are constantly ‘under the pump’ at work, you might already have some of these symptoms. It can happen slowly, over several years. It’s like a snowball, rolling down a hill, getting bigger as it goes.
Many of these symptoms are linked too. I know when I haven’t slept well, I eat poorly (to try and get some energy). I have a poor immune system when I get really fatigued. When I get really fatigued, I get in terrible moods. My wife can tell you!
Arianna Huffington wrote a brilliant book called The Sleep Revolution. I must admit, I wasn’t that excited by the title but the book was fascinating and I read it cover to cover. Huffington explores the science of sleep and details how it can enhance our mood, cognitive ability, immune system and energy levels. My key takeaway from this book was, if you want to make your best decisions, you need a good night’s sleep.
Intelligence and Success
I know what you’re thinking. “I can handle this. I’m a capable person.” But intelligence doesn’t make you immune to sleep deprivation or even burnout. Nor does success. Trust me. There’s a long list of extremely successful rock stars, actors, entrepreneurs, professionals, tradies and more who experience burnout.
In my own roles, I have shown extreme signs of burning out. In a previous corporate role I wasn’t sleeping enough, not spending any time with my family or friends, had a poor diet and wasn’t exercising. In the end, the most telling sign was me becoming angry for no particular reason.
I have seen signs of burnout in others too. From mild cases of stress or anxiety, through to people quitting their work they do or even taking their own life, even when they were at the top of their game. Sometimes, something can happen that’s not so extreme, like someone quitting their job or business.
Let’s Get Real
Pause for a moment and ask yourself a few questions, so we can put things in perspective:
How will I make great decisions if I’m always tired?
What if I never have a holiday again and I burnout?
What if I don’t take care of myself and I become too ill to work?
What does the future of my business look like without me?
Let’s not pretend you or your business are indestructible. In layman’s terms, if any of these things happened, your business or ‘side hustle’ would be up ship creek (yes, SHIP CREEK!). Unless of course, you have a great backup plan. And if you do, good for you -you can already afford to take a break.
Let’s Talk Work Life Sustainability
I believe we need to start talking about ‘work life sustainability’ because too many people view ‘work life balance’ in the extreme. Many employers shy away from the concept of balance because it sounds too much like leisure. What if we see this for what it is? If we don’t address this as entrepreneurs we might be risking our health, our sanity, our most valuable employees, our most important work, our income and indeed all of the rewards that come from doing what we love. We can’t keep going like that.
If you don’t write goals, how will you know where you’re going?
My wife and I were moving house a couple of weeks ago. Our lives were in transition for a few days, living from tarp like bags and boxes with all of our worldly possessions. In our living room, we sold almost every piece of furniture not screwed down.
In the end, we would move into our new house. So, the tiredness, inconvenience and feeling of homelessness while we were moving would all pay off. We could see the pot of fruit loops at the end of the rainbow.
One morning when we had our things packed up ready to go, I was getting ready for work. I started to panic that I was running late.
Clocks keep you on time
I looked up where our vintage clock previously sat on he bookshelf and it was gone. Looking around for the smaller clock we kept on the hall stand, that had been packed up too. I couldn’t even see the bottom right corner of the TV from where I was getting ready because we had sold the stand right from underneath it. “How would I know if I was early or late?” I thought to myself.
My clock usually kept me on time. I knew how long I had before work and what time I had to leave. I knew the ideal time to have a shower, sip of my coffee and a shave. Even the ideal time to brush my teeth and put my shoes on. But on this day I felt a bit lost.
I had so many unknowns. Would I get to work on time? Did I have enough time to eat breakfast at home? Could I watch Home and Away re-runs before work or would I have to record them? I’m just kidding. I don’t watch Home and Away. My wife watches it. No, really.
Anyway… I was a bit lost that morning, until I found my watch. My feelings of panic started to disappear as soon as I could see I was on time. Mini crisis averted. I got to work on time but I probably would have struggled if I didn’t find my watch.
Calendars mark important dates
When I arrived at work that day, I checked my calendar to remind myself of any upcoming meetings. I keep my calendar close at hand (actually, I use a smartphone calendar) and set reminders to keep me on track.
Imagine if I wrote dozens of my most important appointments for the year in a paper diary and then stuffed it down in a drawer for the next 12 months. What are the chances I would be on time for every appointment? Probably not that great. In some cases, I would probably forget who I was meeting, where I was meeting them and the purpose of the meeting.
Imagine if we did the same thing with our goals. Just wrote them down and stuffed them in a folder or drawer for the year. Oh wait -most people do! Or worse still, they don’t write goals in the first place. Following are a few reasons your should write goals and keep them handy to refer back to.
Why you need to write goals
There are many reasons to write goals, instead of just keeping them in your head. Aim, progress, accuracy and accountability are a few that come to mind.
Write goals to clarify
When you write goals, you clarify exactly what your target is and at what point in time you expect to make it. Not only does the end point become clear but so does the path to get you there.
Write goals to measure
Once you have defined your end point, you can also set milestones along the way. Instead of waiting until the deadline for a major goal, you can check your progress along the way against these smaller steps. Think about the purpose of the minutes and seconds hands on a clock (although there are possibly many). Most of your appointments might be on the hour, however, if you check the minutes and seconds hands before the appointment you will know if you’re on track.
Write goals for accuracy
Accuracy improves when you write goals. If you don’t write goals, it’s too easy to shift the goal posts depending on your mood or what you think at the time is realistic. If you allow other people to take control and set your goals, (a manager for example) they will probably shift the goal posts on you too. I remember once that I doubled the sales required according to one of my sales targets. But instead of being praised or rewarded, one of my managers decided the original target was no longer good enough. So, in their eyes I failed. Imagine how I felt. How could I ever be successful if the goal posts would shift every time I kicked a goal?
Write goals for accountability
Take ownership of your goals. You improve your chances of success when you accept responsibility for your goals and hold yourself accountable for success or failure. Set a big goal but one that’s actionable. Set a goal that’s within your control.
Of all the reasons for getting your goals on paper, accepting ownership of end results is the most important. You will always face external forces. Some will set you back and some will push you forward but they will often be beyond your control. Writing your goals is the first step to taking responsibility for what happens to you. There are some things you can control, so focus on those.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” -Theodore Roosevelt.
Some people believe in fate. That outcomes can’t be altered. Chances are, if you’re not setting goals, you’re not leaving it up to fate. Instead, you’re falling into someone else’s plan. What someone else wants to happen, is not necessarily what is meant to happen.
As 2018 began, I began to fall back into the trap of being a people pleaser. I was working full time, starting my side business and an active board member on Dubbo Chamber of Commerce. My fiancé and I got married and we started building our first new house in June the same year. I had so many great things in my life and no time to enjoy any of them.
When my wife and I boarded our plane to fly from Australia to Fiji, it dawned on me that perhaps I was trying too hard to make other people happy. Some days I had the energy levels of Superman and on other days I just felt like a clown who was trying to juggle too many eggs.
My morning routines so far consisted of walking, keeping a diary, writing a blog post and getting ready for work. I continued to read articles about why I should make my bed each morning, prepare a specific kind of herbal tea, perform a high intensity workout, plunge into an ice bath (yes, it’s a thing), listen to a podcast, read for 10 minutes, keep a journal, meditate for 10 and cook a high protein breakfast.
Would all of this keep someone happy? Would it make me happy? More to the point, when the **** would I find time for it all? I was already tired. I wondered if this was how a hamster felt in a wheel. Exhausted, frustrated and going nowhere!
“I do the best I know and the best I can every day. I love and approve of myself as I am, and other people’s opinion or validation of me is neither required nor needed” -Sara Fabian.
Not everyone will be happy
Let’s face it… some people are just shitheads quite negative and you will never keep them happy. Sometimes it’s more than that though. Here are a few reasons it’s impossible to please everyone:
You have limited time and energy
Other people move the goal posts
People expect different things
People expect more than you can give
Stop the runaway train
My friend persuaded me to stay on the chamber board in 2018. I felt compelled to say yes to this request. Probably because I had invested 1 year of my time on the board already. Maybe 2018 was the year I would recover some benefit. So much time and energy had gone into my role already. As a people pleaser, my tendency to say yes could be like a runaway train with no brakes.
A few days before our honeymoon, I came to the realisation that I wasn’t performing any of my roles to the best of my ability. My runaway train, aka Dubbo Chamber of Commerce, was consuming more and more of my time. Requests were coming in from every direction. Even though I was pushing back, this role drained attention, time and energy from my other roles as an employee, part-time business owner, husband and family man.
Who matters most in your life?
I believe it is important to make and keep commitments, to yourself and others. But my commitments to the chamber started like a drop and became a waterfall.
Perhaps I was seen as a people pleaser on the board but I wasn’t keeping the right people happy. I had to make my wife, my family and my paid work a higher priority than what it was.
Consider someone you know who is truly exceptional at what they do? How many roles do they perform at a high level? Chances are, they are better at some things than others. Think about a world class athlete, musician or mathematician. People can be gifted at so many things but without incredible focus and commitment to develop that skill, they will never be the best at what they do.
Unreasonably successful people
Richard Koch, who is an author, entrepreneur and investor, recently wrote a blog post called Saints Ancient and Modern. He is researching a new book, which talks of 19 “unreasonably successful” people. “Unreasonable” because the achieved much more than was ever expected of them and, in some cases, in despite of or because of marked character flaws.
Richard noted that many people who were extraordinary in their chosen field were somewhat duds in their personal life (okay, he didn’t quite put it like that!). Nelson Mandela, Richard points out, was known for being warm and friendly to strangers but very cold with his closest family.
My point is, no one is truly exceptional in every area of life. If you’re human, you will fail at some point. Be selective with what you can do well and eliminate the non essential.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” ― Steve Jobs
Why do we keep saying YES to the wrong things?
I believe that once we have said yes to one request, it becomes more difficult to say no. As it turns out, this is not hogwash. There’s actually some psychological evidence to help explain my half baked theory.
When I was studying marketing, I learned a few things about consumer behaviour. One of the things I learned is that if someone says yes to a minor request, they are more likely to comply with further requests after that. For example, someone who donates $5 to a particular charity is more likely to say yes if the charity requests a follow up donation of $100. I won’t bore you with the detail of the theory but it’s still used as a common technique in sales today.
Rational decisions -not our forte
About 5 years ago, I read an interesting book about the pull of irrational behaviour called “Sway“. Authors Ori and Rom Brafman tell a few great stories to illustrate that people aren’t always rational or logical, as we would like to believe. In fact, more often than not, emotions play a big role in our decisions. I know it’s difficult to believe but as humans, we’re prone to error. We don’t always make decisions rationally or logically.
Perhaps that’s why you chased after the boy or girl you could never have. It might be why you argued a moot point or got in a fist fight to protect yourself or a loved one from a nasty insult. As if it would. Yes, we are emotional creatures and sometimes fools. Sometimes we make decisions with our ‘people pleaser’ hat on -in itself an emotional decision.
Ori and Rom tell one particular story of Captain Jacob Van Zanten, an accomplished pilot with a clean safety record. In fact, he was head of KLM’s safety program and one of the most experienced pilots in the world. He had a solid reputation of being punctual as well. While piloting KLM flight 4805, on a runway in Canary Islands, some diversions were in place causing chaos. It was likely all flights would be grounded, resulting in a chain reaction of delays to other KLM flights and the tarnishing of Jacob’s reputation for being on time. He was also aware that there was not enough local accommodation for his passengers and crew.
Emotional decisions -our default
A series of factors playing on Jacob’s mind, made him determined to take off that day. In his mind, he needed to make it happen before all planes were grounded on the runway. There was chaos at the airport, flight towers were understaffed, a blanket of fog was looming , Jacob’s was being second guessed by his co-pilot and they didn’t get the necessary take off clearance in all the confusion. He didn’t see the 747 parked at the end of the runway until the last minute. He pulled up the nose enough for it to clear parked jet, however, the fuselage on KLM 4805 collided with the parked plane causing a massive explosion. 584 people were killed as a result of the crash, including pilot, crew and all passengers of KLM 4805.
Captain Jacob Van Zanten was over-committed to getting his plane off the ground that day. We all need to be careful about becoming over-committed to a decision, even if we are not commercial pilots or we don’t have lives at stake.
At what point are we over-committed?
Absolutely. In my mind, there are 2 ways you can over-commit.
Committing more attention, time, money or resources to a single role than you have available.
Committing to more roles than you can perform well because you don’t have enough attention, time, money or resources.
Quitting for the short term is a bad idea
Some people say never quit but I disagree. As Seth Godin points out in his book, The Dip, “Quitting for the short term is a bad idea. Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea.” In other words, don’t quit something just because things are tough right now. Consider quitting only if the cost of continuing is more than the benefits of sticking it through to completion (or a future point in time).
Have you ever heard of sunk costs? Sunk costs are costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. If you stay committed to something just because you have already lost too much time, money and energy, that’s a bad idea. What’s the most likely outcome of sticking with your commitment? Is the benefit of seeing through your commitment bigger than the cost of continuing? If not, that’s a good reason to stop.
Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea
Make sure you reach for something big. If you get there, it’s likely the benefit will be bigger than what it costs you to get there. Always keep the end in mind wen you’re deciding where to invest your time and energy. Make sure your goal is so exciting that it’s worth everything you’re going to put into it moving forward.
What happens if you’re a people pleaser? You probably have an inclination to say yes to other people’s requests. So, you never decide to take on a role or task based on a logical decision process. You decide because it keeps someone else happy. In doing so, you may help them get what they want but is that truly what you want?
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” – Jim Rohn.
Stop being a people pleaser
You will never be perfect in other people’s eyes. Stop trying to be a people pleaser. Instead of worrying about what someone else says you should do, decide what your musts are and go after them. Everything else is a distraction, so work on eliminating those distractions.
Think about what you have planned today. This week. Have you taken on too many roles? Are you committing too much attention, time, energy and money to unnecessary roles? Remember, what you decide to quit, may be just as important as what you decide to do.
“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f*** you were gonna do anyway” -Robert Downey Jr.
Which roles will you stick at?
Careful you’re not quitting because something is getting difficult. Remember, that’s never a good reason to quit. Keep your goals in mind and even if working towards your number one goal is difficult, stick it out.
Here are the roles you should keep in your life:
Roles that fulfil you;
Which have the greatest future upside potential;
Where you can be truly exceptional.
In summary, keep your eye on the end reward. Play the long game, not the short. Don’t take on too many roles and spread yourself too thin. Say no often to anything that gets in the way of what you want. Focus on being the best you can be, in the few roles that mean most to you. You will never keep everyone happy, as hard as you might try.
Stop trying to be a people pleaser and instead, do what fulfils you with the people who matter most to you.
Long term goals matter most. Some people tell me there’s no point in setting long term goals because we live in a world of fast and constant change. I am here to argue that it’s because we live in a fast paced world that we need long term goals to keep us on track in both business and in life. Your circumstances may change but your end game should not.
I know there are few times in my life when I have achieved a long term goal and experienced a great sense of satisfaction. Anything worth doing in your life will take time, sometimes years. You will be challenged and you may even doubt yourself at times. Your greatest reward may be the challenges you face and what you learn about yourself as you dig deep to overcome them.
Shiny new object syndrome is the new trend. Most people jump from one new idea or project to the next, instead of pursuing worthwhile goals. Focus has gone out of fashion and busyness is the new black. If you or your business is following a trend then you are also at the mercy of that trend when it declines. Switching from trend to trend, as they become in and out of fashion costs time and money.
You might be searching for the next big thing, jumping from one idea to the next. Ask yourself, what will you do when you find it? Jim Collins and his research team developed something called the hedgehog concept, which he wrote about in his book, Good to Great. Collins suggested one of their findings was their turnaround companies focused on their core business, which ultimately was what they could be the best in the world at (pp90-103). So ask yourself, what can you or your team be the best in the world at?
Collins was talking about turning around companies, from good to great but there’s something we can all take away as individuals too. When deciding what your long term goals are, make sure they align with your personal strengths. I often hear people say, there’s a lot of money in that kind of business or something similar. There might be a lot of money in an industry but if it doesn’t align with your strengths, passions and abilities, you’re not going to see very much of it!
Consider some of the oldest companies in the world. Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi is a hot springs hotel in Japan, which was founded in 705AD. It’s been owned by the same family for 52 generations. Do you think they set long term goals? I think it would be safe to say they do… or at least, they haven’t followed trending industries. Same business, same industry, 52 years.
Imagine how many companies Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi has outlived in 1,313 years (at the time of writing). How many downturns, recessions and depressions do you think this company has survived? I would dare to say more than you or I have had hot breakfasts. Would that be possible if the family had switched industries when hotels became more competitive? Imagine the impact they might have felt when billion dollar hotel chains were established across the world.
Consider Jeff Bezos also, who at the time of writing unseated Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Bezos’ Amazon is now Goliath and you may have forgotten about their early days. For nearly 20 years, Amazon barely made a profit. Imagine trying to keep early investors happy for 20 years on the promise they would one day make a lot of money. That’s a long term view, in a world where many investors focus on quarterly profits.
Jeff Bezos built his reputation and his business by setting long term goals. All along he warned shareholders that he would be playing the long game. He suggested investors buy stock in Amazon, only if they intended to invest for the long term. He had the discipline to focus on becoming the world’s biggest bookstore. Books were probably not a very sexy industry at the time, however, Bezos had a vision and a unique business model.
Warren Buffett is a very successful investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. At the time of writing, Buffett is worth $85.7 Billion and the third richest man in the world. Buffett has become known for his long term investment strategy, which he used in his early days when investing money for a small group of family and friends. He still uses that strategy today.
“I am not in the business of predicting general stock market or business fluctuations. If you think I can do this, or think it is essential to an investment program, you should not be in the partnership” -Warren Buffett.
Buffett’s investment rules include testing performance, which he says should be done at most every 3 years. He does however, prefer 5. He still follows this long term investment strategy in a world where everything seems so urgent, stock markets fluctuate rapidly and we are exposed to a 24 hour news cycle.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” -Jim Rohn.
Long term goals will set you apart. In business, they’re often referred to as strategic goals. Jim Collins calls them BHAGs or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (pp195-205) in his book. I recommend, in business and in life, you set long term goals first and then work backwards. Consider the most capable athletes or people in your line of work who are at the top of their game. Chances are you will find it’s taken them years, perhaps even decades of determination to achieve what they have. Learn to play the long game, like them.
Most people I know, think that I’m crazy. Those people believe work life balance is some mythical creature, like a unicorn or perhaps just an aspiration, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If you want to be rich and happy, don’t go to school
When I was in school and working at McDonald’s part time, I picked up a book called “If you want to be rich and happy, don’t go to school,” by Robert Kiyosaki. Needless to say, as a boy who hated school at the time, this book really was appealing. Kiyosaki wrote a lot about how to escape the rat race.
Careful observation led me to adopt a similar view to Kiyosaki’s. Why is everyone working long hours and working so hard for little reward? How many people are delaying happiness for a day that might never come? Plenty, it seems.
What I learned from Maccas about systems
I didn’t realise it back then but working at McDonald’s was my introduction to effective business systems. Imagine a system where a bunch of teenagers can be left to serve customers, cook food, clean the store, plan parties and so one. Most parents of teenage children are probably asking the more pressing question, why can’t they cook and clean at home? I’m not a parent but I do have experience as a teenager!
My parent’s advice was to work hard and one day the boss would see this and promote me. In each of my roles, I would work when others would not. I did nights, weekends, holidays. No job was beneath me or too dirty. This work ethic carried on in each of my new roles.
Work life balance makes good business sense
About this time, I began studying my Bachelor of Commerce at university. Required reading was a book called “Maverick”, by Ricard Semler. Semler was the CEO of Semco, an advocate of work life balance but he was more than that; he was one of the first to show the world it made good business sense.
Productivity and work life balance seemed to work hand in hand at Semco. In fact, productivity under Ricardo’s lead was better than when the company had a rigid structure that did not favour balance. I would learn this lesson much later; productivity and work life balance can not only co-exist but thrive together.
Helping people work from home
In 2007, I started contract work for Microsoft. I loved it. My role was to help small and mid sized organisations set up, so their employees could work from home or remotely. Working from home, when few people could, was quite a perk. Of course, many challenges arose that we didn’t anticipate. Still, this was early days for a trend that would catch on in so many Australian businesses.
So many of my colleagues would take their work home. Some confessed they would sit up with their laptop in bed and work from late night into the early hours of the next morning. I was passionate about helping my colleagues live healthier lives and so began helping them set boundaries. One day, towards the end of my contract, a few full time employees were made redundant. Interestingly, when I think back, none of them were the employees who seemed to be living a balanced life.
Those who took long lunches, who played sport, spent more time making connections, spent less time on their computer and seemed happier all stayed in their jobs. Some hard workers stayed too but some were shown the door.
2008’s economic downturn was hardly the fault of Microsoft or the managers. Nor were the redundancies. Arguably, management did what they had to do. My point is, this experience reinforced my belief that no job is safe. Keep learning, growing and developing your career. If you want to protect your livelihood, you need to be ready for what comes. Don’t invest your whole life in a job or a company that might not do the same for you. Live a little.
Work life balance is real
Today, I get mixed reactions when I mention work life balance. I recall being on local radio promoting a course I was running, titled work life management. On air, I was speaking to the host of the show, who asked, is there really such thing as work life balance? I replied there is and he gave me that look, like he thought I needed a straight jacket. Later, off air, he explained that it was impossible for him to find balance because his circumstances were unique.
If I only had a dollar for each time I heard that. People are only busy these days because it’s trendy. When someone asks how’s work or how’s your business, few people want to admit they have time to relax. Everyone says, I’m flat out. Some people truly believe they are.
I have met hundreds of managers who keep themselves busy. A handful of them are fired or move on. Most continue to struggle. I have met a few business owners who always seem rushed. Some of them, which appeared to be strong businesses from the outside, would close their doors and call in the liquidators a few days later.
In contrast, I have met a few lifestyle business owners who keep ticking along. They invest time with their family, take holidays and they make sure they work on the right things. Focus on productivity over busy-ness. Some of them have been living the life for many years.
Systems are the key to lifestyle business design
Systems are the key to lifestyle business design. Entrepreneurs repeat this wisdom often but very few seem to put this concept into practice. Could your employees run your business if you had to take a sick day? What about if you went on holidays? Most business owners can only step away from their business if they have systems in place to guide employees’ decisions. If you want to enjoy work life balance, you need to be able to step away from your business occasionally.
Work life balance is real. For everyone who tells me it’s not possible, I see another entrepreneur, manager or executive making it happen. Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat. You’re actually not on a train with no brakes. You’re driving the train. My advice, if you’re still searching for a better life, is to take ownership of your time.
Do you know why goals fail? I have listened carefully to dozens of people tell me why they have not been successful. I have failed more often than I’ve succeeded myself but I’m fortunate to have some victories too.
Why goals fail, even the SMARTEST ones
Setting effective goals is only the start of your journey. This article is going to address why goals fail, even if you have already set your SMARTEST goals.
Expect the unexpected
I used to be a police officer, which is a job where I learned to expect the unexpected. Imagine being sent to arrest someone at their house. Would they stay? Was it likely they were going to run? Were they ready for a fight? Or indeed was I ready if they attacked me?
In each case, our training had prepared us for a range of scenarios. We had repeated drills, as part of our training, in case we would find ourselves confronted with a life threatening situation. We had standard procedures for those who were cooperative too but that was rarely the case. In this role, I learned more than in any other about why goals fail.
Goals have moving parts
Soon I learned business was no different. Perhaps not as dangerous or life threatening as my previous role as a police officer. My point is, there are so many moving parts inside and outside a business. Competitors, governments, regulators, economies and industries are always changing. They are mostly fluid and unpredictable.
In business, as in life, things will change. Things might go wrong or not according to plan.
Goals have challenges
Why do goals fail? Most goals fail because the person or organisation pursuing them wasn’t prepared for what was coming. I know that seems like an obvious point but I still see people set goals as if nothing could go wrong.
Most people set goals with a positive mind set. Don’t get me wrong. Positivity helps. But if you truly believe nothing can possibly go wrong, how can you be ready for it when it does?
In blunt terms, what are you going to do when the shit hits the fan? If your goal is big enough, you are going to be challenged. If you try hard enough, you might even fail. Failure is a learning experience, not an end point.
Why goals fail and why you don’t need to
Next time you’re setting some goals, write down all of the things that could possibly go wrong. Choose the problems that are most likely and write down how you might avoid them. Write down your worst case scenario for each and how you might minimise the damage.
Bruce Lee said it best when he said, “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
Anything worth doing in life will be hard. In my experience that’s the way life is. My question is, what will you do when things get tough? Don’t give up.
Prepare yourself because lack of preparation is why goals fail. Nothing great ever comes easy. Great things come when you overcome adversity.