It’s all about you: it’s your responsibility to make your business successful; no-one else’s, just yours.
If you blame circumstances, bad luck, lack of knowledge, lack of expertise, the economy or the government – then you are wrong – that’s not what is holding you back. If you are being held back – then it’s you that’s doing it.
If you are in the wrong business you have the power to change it; if you aren’t getting clients find a way to get them; if you are lacking energy or motivation to grow your business; you can look for ways to get the energy and motivation; if you need help or a mentor you can decide to find one.
You can do it
You have the energy, the ideas and the skills to make a success of your business. That’s the great thing about it being down to you; you don’t need to wait for permission to get on with it.
ACTIVITY: completely take on board that the responsibility for the success or failure of your business is yours alone and commit to making a success of your business.
What you focus on is what grows; so if you focus on negativity and ‘lack’ that’s what you will get; focus on positivity, abundance, success and richness, similarly that is what you get.
This simple idea is behind a technique that every self-help guru recommends – which is to think about all the things your perfect future would involve and create ‘affirmations’ that suggest those things have come to pass.
Each day you then repeat those affirmations to the extent that your ‘subconscious mind’ takes them as real and works to make the world align itself to that ‘reality’.
An example affirmation would be something like, ‘My business is thriving, I have loyal customers who are willing to pay a premium for my services.” Of course your affirmations will be dependent on what you envisage your perfect future to look like.
A more structured approach to visualising a prosperous future was introduced to me when I went along to a Jack Black self development course quite a few years ago (certainly over a decade ago).
The idea was to set goals for several areas of life – not just the material things, i.e. also consider your health, mental well-being, creativity, education, money, relationships, public service and so on. It wouldn’t be good if your business was tremendously successful but the rest of your life was a mess?
ACTIVITY: write down a list of the different areas of your life – perhaps start with the list above (e.g. health etc). Think about how satisfied you are in each of these areas today. Give each a mark out of 10. 10 would be perfect and 1 would be ‘as bad as it could be’. Then underneath each of these areas write a paragraph or two that describes your ideal future in that area and set specific medium and long-term goals.
Try to be as specific as you can in terms of your goals. When I did this exercise on the Jack Black course I wrote things like, ‘I will write a book and have it published’, ‘my asthma will improve’, ‘I’ll own a good car’, ‘I will start my own business’.
All of these at the time seemed like big goals that would be difficult to achieve; however when I found the list several years later I found that they had all came to pass. I’ve since written six books, my health has improved and I even got a car in the colour I specified – ‘racing green’.
Your task: combine Jack Black’s approach to goal setting with the idea of creating affirmations related to different areas of your life. For each of the goals you created earlier write a set of affirmations. Every day repeat your affirmations some time in the morning before you get started on your work.
A lot of research has been conduct around the effectiveness of goals setting:
We can work hard and be stressed out of our minds or we can work hard while feeling relaxed. If you can do the later your health will improve, you will enjoy your work more and you will get more done.
That’s easier said that done of course; particularly when for many of us feeling stressed is an engrained habit; we wake up, think about the work that lies ahead and start to feel stressed. Luckily, there are some things we can do to help break that stress habit.
Take time off
Ironically one of the most effective ways of be more relaxed and more efficient is to regularly stop working all together, i.e. take a holiday and/or take frequent breaks. For me this is a hard-learned lesson; I often find myself working to a standstill; burned out, stressed and unproductive. It’s only after a short break that I realise how bad things had got and how much I needed a break. If you are absolutely convinced you can’t afford time away from your working week, just go away for the weekend; the saying that a change is as good as a rest is true.
Plan your day
A great way to stay relaxed is to take the time to plan your day by allocating distinct time-frames for each task on your to-do list.
This frees your mind to dedicate yourself to one task at a time without constantly worrying that you should be getting on with something else, i.e. all the other things that are still on your to-do list.
If you are really a well organised person you should plan each new day at the end of the previous one; however this is something I’ve never managed to do myself – so if you can do this – it’s a gold star to you.
I do however make use of to-do lists and I do take the time each morning break my days into distinct time-frames and allocate each of those time-frames to one thing on my to-do list. The day doesn’t always work out as planned but it certainly helps keep the feelings of ‘overwhelm’ at bay; particularly at the start of the day.
ACTIVITY: use to-do lists in your daily routine.
1. Create three distinct to-do lists; immediate tasks; medium-term tasks and long-term tasks. Your long-term tasks are the, ‘it would be great to get these done sometime’ tasks.
Take the second and third to-do list (i.e. medium and long-term tasks), put them in a separate document and print it out, fold over the sheet of paper and put it away in a drawer, or a filing cabinet or in a locked box somewhere; then erase the list on you computer.
You won’t forget the things on those lists but you don’t want them staring at you all the time making you feel guilty. The fact that you have written them down and and done something will make you feel mentally lighter; those tasks are filed.
2. Start each day by mapping out rough time-frames for the task from your immediate to-do list that you intend to work on throughout the day.
If you are a born worrier then relaxing is going to be difficult; you’ll be worrying about the consequences; particularly if you think relaxing is the equivalent of taking your eye off the ball.
It is possible to learn to stop worrying. There is a brilliant book called, ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ by Dale Carnegie (the same person who wrote, How to Make Friends and Influence People).
Get a copy right now. It is full of great ideas and techniques and it’s incredibly easy to read; Dale Carnegie is a born communicator. It even includes advice on, ‘how to eliminate fifty per cent of your business worries’. Here are a few of his tips:
- Do you spend time regretting things that happened in the past and worrying about things that might happen in the future; try living life ‘in day-tight compartments’.
- Remember, ‘every day is a new life to a wise man/woman’.
- Stop stewing about yesterdays jam, and worrying about tomorrows jam, spread today’s jam thick on your bread right now.
One strategy from the book I use myself
When confronted by a serious issues that has the potential to keep me up all night and have me worrying myself into an early grave I take the following advice from the second chapter of the book:
- I think of the very worst possible outcome.
- I accept that that the worst possible outcome has happened.
- I think ‘ok, so the worst has happened, what do I do now?’ And think of how I would re-build from there.
The result of this approach is that that it ‘reboots’ your brain so you can start thinking clearly instead of being too anxious and too caught up in negative thought patterns to think at all.
That reminds me of another strategy I also find useful, which is it ask myself if this problem I’m fretting over will still be a issue a year from now? That’s an idea from the book, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff’ by Richard Carlson. Another good book if you need to combat stress in your life.
There are many strategies you can take to tackle your worries, including a couple I came across on the, ‘Brain Pickings’ website. A recent article entitled, What the Psychology of Suicide Prevention Teaches Us About Controlling Our Everyday Worries includes the recommendation that you put your worries in an imaginary box under your bed – when they are keeping you awake at night. If/when you start to worry again remind yourself that those worries are in the box and you won’t be getting them out again until a later date.
I like that idea, but an idea I like even more is to allocate precise times in the day to worry, say 15 minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening; when your fifteen minutes are up you tell yourself that you aren’t allowed to think of those things until your next allocated worry time.
Those are just few ideas in summary form; seek out original books and articles about how to live a worry free life. Reading about the experiences of those who have beat the worry habit will give you some good strategies to beat your own.
Work towards a more relaxed approach to life
Investigate the three principles approach
Regular exercise and/or meditation are known to lead to a more relaxed and stress free lifestyle, however I struggle to do either of these consistently – so I became very interested in an approach to life invented by a former Scottish welder call Sydney Banks (http://www.sydneybanks.org) – because one of it’s selling points is that you don’t need to learn or remember any techniques at all.
He came up with the idea that there are three principles to life; and that these three principles are responsible for all human experience, i.e. mind (an analogy for the life force that seems to underpin everything), consciousness (the fact we perceive the world around us) and thought (how we interpret what we perceive).
Basically what he is saying is that our experience of the world around is is something we ‘make up’; we bring things into being by thinking them; so once we know that, we can decide what to think; because whatever we think becomes our reality.
This ideas goes beyond the more traditional notion – though even this is a new idea for many people – that we can decide how we respond to the things that happen to us. What he is saying is that we invent the experience itself, not just what we think of the experience, which of course we also invent.
That doesn’t explain it at all well, which is why you need to read about it yourself.
To be honest it doesn’t make logical sense to me but whether I can understand it seems to be ‘neither here nor there’ as my experience of trying to understand it has in itself had a positive impact on my every day mood and outlook.
The best book I’ve come across about these three principles is called ‘The Inside Out Revolution’ by Michael Neil. Get a copy; read it on your Kindle, iPad, e-reader – or go old world and buy the physical book. Whatever – just get a copy.
I also suggest you also view the Youtube video by George Pransky called, ‘The Real Source of Stress‘.
A positive attitude is a requirement
If negativity is your default setting it’s going to be a whole lot harder to get anywhere in business.
You need to be positive, expect success and assume you have all the talents required for success.
That might sound like a tall order, but it’s what this section of the course is all about; helping you get into that positive state of mind. If you assume that your business will flourish – it will. Even if you think all this positive thinking stuff is a load of ‘new age bollocks’ I want you to put that aside for now and just go with these ideas. Believe me it will be worth some short term mental discomfort for the long term benefits.
The ‘how to’ of developing a positive attitude
Here are a few practical things you can do to get more positive about yourself and the future.
Develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’
Do this exercise today:
List everything that you are grateful for in your life. And I mean everything. Here are some examples:
- You are alive
- You have somewhere to stay
- You have friends
- You have an income
- You have talents in a number of different areas …….
Keep writing. If you appreciate music or art or going to the cinema list that as something to be grateful for; if you love reading – be grateful you can read and that you have books to read.
ACTIVITY: fill at least four A4 sheets with things you are grateful for.
Grateful 8 days a week (well maybe just 7)
Now list everything that has happened in the last seven days that you are grateful for; people you met for coffee/tea/beer/wine, good things that happened, compliments you were given, things you bought and enjoyed, work you completed, people who smiled at you, people who gave you a hug, good chats you had with friends, times you were generous, the day the sun shone. Think hard; what has happened in the last week you can be grateful for. Think of at least 20 things.
ACTIVITY: write 20 things that happened in the last 7 days you are grateful for. Put the seven day exercise in your diary and commit to doing it every week for the next month; if today is Wednesday, put it in for the next 4 Wednesdays at the same time (do that right now – what are you waiting for?). If you have an electronic diary, set an alarm. Let’s face it, we’re lucky sods to still be breathing and to be in business and to be in a position to even think about making our business more successful. Leave your comment about this article below:.
Your attitude is your responsibility
Ok I’ll admit it, I am constantly being buffeted by ill winds, forever being threatened by a sinking in the choppy water of life and never far from my next business crisis. But – I’ll also admit – that’s just life and it’s up to me to remain positive while all of this happens around me. Because I also know that keeping a positive attitude has benefits that I just can’t ignore.
- Live longer
- Are less likely to suffer from depression.
- Are more resistant to physical illness.
- Find it easier to learn new things.
- find it easier to cope with change.
- Experience greater feelings of wellbeing over time.
So knowing that, I also know that I damn well need to live with a more positive attitude. And I know that you need to too. You know, without me telling you, that if you want your business to be successful your attitude is critical. So I guess the questions is; how do you develop a more positive attitude?
Well the first thing is to believe that it is possible – and believe that it is possible because it is within your control; a positive attitude is simply an approach you can decide to adopt. Here is something that can help you get started.
Become aware of your thinking patterns
To change your attitudes it can be very useful to first uncover and become aware of your current attitudes and thinking. One powerful way to do that is to keep a diary of how you think. At the end of each day write down and reflect upon your thoughts and attitudes during that day. Write down what you think triggered any negative attitudes, and write down the actions you took, if any.
Then write down what a more positive response would have looked like and a list of alternative actions that would have been open to you if you had adopted a more positive approach.
ACTIVITY: create a two column table either on a piece of paper on your computer; on the left record your triggers, your negative thoughts and resulting actions. On the right-hand column write down the positive version of the days event; how would you have responded if you had been thinking positively?
Continue with this exercise until you become consciously aware of the attitudes and thinking you are using when you are making decisions; aware enough to switch to a more positive approach in ‘real time’ rather than just in ‘diary time’.
This online course has been designed to help you grow your business.
Super intelligence or super talent is not required; all you need is a willingness to learn. This course passes on ideas and techniques from those who have already created successful businesses i.e. just the bits that work.
To get the most from the course work through each unit in turn and take the time to do all of the exercises.
Give us your feedback
The training course is in continual development and will evolve according to the feedback you provide. We would like it to be as useful as possible – so please get in touch to say what you like about it and what you think is missing from it.