I was at a children's birthday party over the weekend, and a friend I only see once a year (at this birthday party) asked me "So why have you stopped blogging?" I thought about it and the truth is, I feel like I'm at a cross-roads and needed to first do some serious "soul re-searching" regarding my life, business and career.
I say "soul re-searching" because, for me, this meant gathering as much information from mentors, books, articles, documentaries and TED talks and organize all I've learned and all my thoughts into some kind of coherent road map. Here's what I've come up with so far and you know I'm serious because I'm actually using footnotes.
Cut out the not-so-great stuff. It's easy to get distracted, to want to pursue all your different interests and explore all your different business ideas. But the fact is, dividing your attention and energy means not being able to give your all to any of them. So choose the 1-3 things that you know are the best or most important pursuits and focus on them. Quit, get rid of or shelve everything else and any activity that doesn't support those top priorities.1, 2, 3
Focus on the work, not the rewards. When we are obsessed with making money or having a great image or status, we make different decisions for ourselves and our businesses as opposed to when our goal is to do great work for it's own sake. Be it a service, a product or even just an activity, do your best and relish the process. Besides "The best way to get more clients, is to do great work for your current ones".1, 2, 4, 5, 6
THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE AREN'T THINGS
Value your relationships. Whether it be a client, a friend or a family member, having good and close connections to each other are actually one of the three most important keys to happiness. Ever notice how no matter how many "things" you accumulate, the happiness fades? But not if you accumulate time and closeness with the people around you. Material things will never make you as happy as the memories you make and the feelings you share with your loved ones.6, 7, 8
The truth is, we have no real control over anything outside of ourselves. How happy our family is, how our bosses or clients treat us or whatever else life dishes at you. The one thing you can control is how you perceive your situation which in turn influences your attitude, reaction and behavior. If you can have the presence of mind not to react badly when a little child says "I hate you" why can't you have that same presence of mind to react positively to another bad situation…any situation. Sure, you still have to deal with it, solve it, whatever…but how will a bad attitude, worrying or a lost temper help matters? In fact, a positive attitude usually generates a positive outcome. Life is messy. Accept it. Be present. Choose the right attitude and move on.8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Being helpful has several interesting benefits. 1. It makes people want to connect with you. 2. It makes you a valuable resource to people you do business with. 3. It helps you forget your own troubles and actually makes you happy. And of course, 4) there's karma. In fact, our brains are hard wired to feel good after helping someone. "When in doubt, focus out."6, 8, 13
There are a few more but I'll stop here for now as these are the ones that most closely relate to business. (Let me know if you'd like to see the ones on "Having a Happy Personal Life"). Hope this little entry was as helpful for you to read as it was for me to write. Take care!
1 Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2 Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemier
3 The Dip by Seth Godin
4 Eddie Murphy on Inside the Actors Studio
5 On Advertising by David Ogilvy
6 The Happy Movie (documentary) by Roko Belic
7 Nic Marks on TED.com
8 Momentum Education, New York, NY
9 The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck
10 Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
11 Roy Sutherland on TED.com
12 The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
13 Joyce Moy, The Accceleration Group