We are measuring ourselves against society's definitions of success, which may not necessarily be a fit with our own. So often people measure success by how much money you make, as if the dollars earned equate to happiness. I run a successful business, but I don't measure it in financial terms, but more by the number of people positively impacted by being part of our organization.
Much is written in business circles of visualizing your success. Well for astronauts, it is quite the reverse, they spend considerable time visualizing failure; simulating what they would do if something went wrong -- and in space, the scope is unlimited. As business owners we need to do that too and be prepared for what could go wrong, with a plan B (or C) in our back pocket.
Life on the fast lane takes its toll. I am so used to going at high speed, that to amble along in the slow lane is challenging. But as you whiz along, you miss out. You miss seeing the natural beauty around you. You miss socializing with friends, or just being on your own, with time to reflect and catch your breath.
Recently I received a call from a woman who wanted to take her program on the road. She wanted my advice on how to proceed and how to take her business to the next level. I cautioned her about leaping in and trying to expand too quickly, especially if she didn't have the staffing or resources in place to manage the growth.
Like others in Ontario, the ice storm caught us by surprise and we spent a very chilly few days without power and, living in the country, without water too. To be honest we weren't that prepared. We are now, I can tell you. But as business owners, we also have some lessons to learn from those tough few days that we can use in our business lives.
Have you ever noticed that history has a way of repeating itself, especially if you haven't paid attention and learned the lesson the first time around? I say this because I have just realized that I am facing the same situation I first dealt with when I was 14. A couple of months ago we moved full time to our farm, just an hour from where we used to live. Now, I can see that I need to focus my energies on making new friends.
One story that Shapiro shared was of the challenges facing Houston Airport, where luggage would be available within eight minutes but passengers were at the luggage carousel within one minute and disgruntled about having to wait. The answer: airport staff created a longer path to collect luggage which took eight minutes, so luggage and passengers arrived at the same time.
While as small business owners we are moving in very different circles, we can all learn from what is happening in the big business world. Take your lead from your customers, not your competition -- it is your customers who will tell you what they want, and don't want. So listen, and act accordingly.
Much is written these days about storytelling as a way to make yourself or your business stand out, and it is a strategy that I strongly recommend. Yet recently I have witnessed ways how, as a speaker, it can backfire on you and instead of winning over your audience, can alienate the people listening to your talk. How?
If you do a favour for someone, do you keep an internal tally card tracking who has done what for who and then feel abused when the person or company doesn't reciprocate? You wouldn't be alone. But authors Bob Burg and John David Mann point out in their book, The Go-Giver, that it is the giving without thought of a return that really counts.
Some of the matches, especially in the semi-finals once you got down to the really skilled players, could have been easily won by either opponent, it was that close. But just like in business, you can be neck and neck with your competitors, and suddenly one of you gets ahead. So what did the winners do to make that happen?