We’ve all heard the expression that “life is a marathon, not a sprint”. Yet we all sprint around expecting to get ‘there’ faster, wherever ‘there’ is.
The truth is that doing anything worthwhile requires work.
“Work that matters is often difficult. It can be absorbing in mid-flow and satisfying in retrospect, but it is intimidating and headache-inducing and full of false starts.”
Tim Harford (author and columnist for the Financial Times)
That quote could describe how it feels in most businesses that I work with when it comes to getting hard work done. But just because work is hard it doesn’t mean it’s not fun, fulfilling and worthwhile.
Applying This Thinking
The question is: how can you apply this line of thinking to you and your business journey right now?
Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way:
1. Be Patient
Patience is a hugely underrated virtue in my opinion. As someone who can be as impatient as the next business owner, I’ve really had to learn the value of being patient.
How does that show up in my work life?
By setting realistic time frames for development and execution of my ideas. Be honest, anything that is going to be a game changer for your business is unlikely to be implemented easily or quickly. If it was that simple everyone would be doing it already.
2. Learn Some New Skills
To continue growing in your business, you have to continue growing as a person.
If you are seeking to achieve a new record level of turnover and profitability this year it’s possible, even likely, that what got you where you are now won’t take you where you want to go. If you want to get better and achieve your goals, you’ve got to look for the new skills you can learn.
- What existing skills could you develop further this year?
- What additional skills might become important to get where you want to be going in the next 3-5 years?
If a whole new skill seems daunting, try improving or mastering something small. For example, instead of trying to be great at first meetings with new clients, work on being a master at asking great questions. A narrower focus is likely to take you deeper and help improve the skill more quickly.
One new skill can make an impact if it’s learned well. Seven new skills half mastered won’t. It will just increase your sense of failure and frustration.
In my experience improving one small skill can have a disproportionately positive impact on your business and your life.
Learning a new skill gives you a boost in confidence, but more importantly, enthusiasm for learning more. This will reignite your passion for life, learning and growth. And, to be honest, what else are we here for?
3. Notice the Small Wins
It’s easy to point out problems in your business and never give yourself credit for the amazing progress that you’ve made. But continually beating yourself up is not helpful or satisfying.
Set some regular times in the diary for noticing the small wins. That might be on a weekly basis at your regular leadership team meetings, or monthly, quarterly and annually at your other planning and review sessions.
I know you’re nodding, but this is the tip you’re most likely to disregard. Why not schedule some regular times in the dairy (quarterly would work fine to start with) where you reflect on what’s going well and what has moved on?
4. Finish Things
A friend of mine once told me that the last 5% of a project takes about as long to complete as the first 95%. This changed my life.
Knowing this has allowed me to allocate time more realistically when planning a project. I make sure I can spend loads of time on the last 5% to try and make it great. That’s where all the game-changing stuff happens; right at the end.
If you can become a master at finishing things off properly, committing to your best work, you’ll find that it gets noticed in the marketplace.
There is a time for ready, fire, aim as you try new ideas. You’ll learn that eventually ready, aim, fire is a necessary process to be completed, if you want to put something of real quality out into the world.
A guy I met when I first came to the UK said to me, “Financial Planning is a great get rich slow business” and he was right. So just keep going.
While it’s super cool to hear of some new tech startup go from a valuation of zero to a billion dollars in six years, it’s not the norm.
Incremental improvement sustained over a long period of time will have you looking like a genius at the end of your career.
Start as you mean to go on
There’s plenty to be excited about right now in our amazing profession. If you can get focused on the skills, behaviours and habits that you’ll need to execute on your business goals, your chances of succeeding and the fun you can have along the way will go up exponentially.
Let me know how you go.
📚 Further reading:
If you’d like to read more on this topic check out this article by Tim Harford in the Financial Times; Challenge Is All Too Easily Ducked By The Modern Worker. It’s worth a read in full.
Uncover Your Business Potential
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It’s 3 years of digging in and solving each business challenge to finally create the business you’ve always envisaged.
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