I often gain more reflecting on the past year than I do setting intentions for the new one. I find it extremely powerful to stop and reflect on lessons learned – both good and bad. It accelerates my learning curve as an entrepreneur, and keeps me from falling into the same missteps I already am too familiar with. In other words, self-reflection is key if I want to embody what it is to be Unstoppable.
My Top 5 Lessons from 2019:
Focus on the Solution. This lesson came late in the year. I am very aware of the problems I solve in my business, helping organizations build unbreakable emotional bonds with their customers, so they are visible, profitable and sustainable. What I didn’t realize was how much time I was spending on the problem –overwhelm, time-starvation, lack of clarity, competing, and the fear and anxiety created. We all want answers. I learned to lead with the answers, since the problems are already in plain sight.
Ask for the Right Help. There’s a difference between asking for any help out of desperation, and consciously finding the right help in order to move to the next level. This year I finally made the leap to getting help with something I actually can do very well myself – social media posting. At least I know how to write and design social media posts. However, social media posting takes a lot of time. Like the rest of us, I don’t have an overabundance of time to spend carelessly. So I learned to ask myself, “Is this what I need to be doing that no one else can do?” The answer was clearly, “No.” But it was fun and creative, I got immediate satisfaction from it, and I also was inconsistent with it as well. So I got diminished results on all fronts. So, I admitted my limitations, and hired help in social media, and in less than a month, I was seeing lead results. I also got help in other areas, including administration and bookkeeping. I haven’t fully let go yet, but now that I see the difference the right help makes, 2020 is my year.
Invest in Community. Networking is not just about the chance to shake hands with your next ideal customer. It is also about building the relationship and trust of a community who can refer you, introduce you and recommend you to your next ideal customer. That is not a quick return. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years. And it takes time away from the daily business as well. There were days when I was frustrated by all the pro-bono demands on my time, the politics, crises, and disorganization that volunteer organizations often must deal with. I felt at times that I was being asked to choose between my business and the organization’s business. However, a few voices rose above the rest, to say, “How can we support you? You are very important here. You do amazing work and we are grateful for you.” It gave me renewed strength to keep going, and in the end, I gained back priceless visibility, numerous new clients, and powerful credibility I never could have garnered on my own.
Learn to Say No. I never thought I had a problem with saying no, until this past year. I found myself in the midst of a couple of volunteer roles I had said yes to, but they shifted out of alignment with my original reason for being there. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, per se. Still, the disconnect was clear. While there was no easy, purely graceful way to extricate myself, I needed to do it, in order to put my focus on the right things. These challenging situations taught me that while something might be a good idea, it might not be the right time, the right people, or the right place to become involved. I am far more careful now about what I choose to take on, interviewing others who have held the role or been connected to it, so I enter with greater clarity from the beginning. I have said no to three things in the past three months that my ego would have historically demanded I race to say yes. By saying no, I am free to place proper intention on the work I must do.
Manage Energy, Not Expectations. Everything is an exchange of energy. Our time, money, products, services, and skills are all forms of it. Every day I start off with a finite supply of energy to give to my business. I also found myself beginning every day with a list of expectations for what I needed to accomplish that did not fit within the energy I had available. Historically, what I have done is write it all down in one big, amorphous list, and just start checking things off. I certainly had priorities of what needed to get done first, but beyond that, if it got done, great, and if not, I moved it to the next day’s list. It wasn’t a horrible system. Yet some very important things never got done, because they were always being pushed forward. I expected that eventually time would open up to get them done, and it never did. What I learned to do was treat my day like different departments of my business – sales, accounting, product creation, etc. Each “department” gets a certain amount of my finite energy. No department gets more than is appropriate for the running of an effective business. The results of this grand experiment have been nothing short of revolutionary. I actually am getting it all done. Almost no item moves to the next day, in fact! The difference is I am measuring my success in terms of the energy I will allow it, rather than the expectation I once had of “getting it all done”.
Every year has its lessons. 2020 will be no different. The difference looking at these lessons makes for my business is that I can see where my fears and subtle beliefs were holding me back. Each year I see with greater and greater clarity. And each year I get to keep moving forward armed with the knowledge of what worked and what definitely did not. I hope this helped you to gain some clarity in your business blind spots as well. Here’s to 2020 being a year filled with #Unstoppability.