Protecting What’s Most Important To You

4 MIN READ

Yesterday began in a most bizarre way. I was lying asleep under my snuggly doona when suddenly, blaring sirens shocked me to alert. At 5am I jumped out of bed to evacuate. I put my dressing gown on, grabbed a few essential things and got down four flights of stairs as quickly as possible. I joined my apartment block neighbours in collective curiosity and confusion on the side of the road. What was going on?

Today is the anniversary of my late husband’s passing. I always dread this day. Yes, the memories of the 14 years I shared with him are a blissful treasure. But on this day, I remember just how gutting it was to find that he had died on our kitchen floor when I was at work. The 28th May will always be a sombre day where the significance of the loss hits me hard.

Leading through loss helps to cope with chaos in crisis

5am Kensington Melbourne. 27th May, 2020.

The experiences of these two days have created a mash-up of me thinking about how we protect the things we hold dearest. I hope my reflections today make you stop and think about how you would fare if the unthinkable actually happened. How well are you set up to deal with unexpected tragedy?

I know it’s a dark question, but every day thousands of people are forced to deal with unpredictable loss. You can’t know what will happen in your life, but you can do some smart things now to minimise the impact of sudden crisis.

Prepare Your Documents

There were easily 50 people who watched the fire engines roar down our street in the early hours of yesterday morning, but I was the only one who had my identification and other documents bundled up in a folder. I’d grabbed that folder, my phone and my wallet on the way out. If our apartment building really had burned down yesterday morning, I don’t know how we would have coped with the loss. But I do know that I would have had my essential documents and ID with me.

FOR YOU: Gather up your papers into one folder and keep it somewhere handy so you can grab it on the way out the door in case of an emergency. Include your original birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, court order docs, your will, and master password to your password software. Also include certified copies of these so they’re ready if you need them for insurance claims or other post-crisis business.

Work In The Cloud

It would have been handy to have grabbed my computer yesterday morning, but this wasn’t essential because all my work is stored in Google Drive. I do have some things stored for convenience on my desktop, so if I lost my computer I would lose those things. However, everything stored on my desktop is also stored in Drive. If I lost everything to a fire or flood, I could still log in to my cloud storage, or my other online accounts and keep working. I would be devastated by the loss, but important things would still function.

FOR YOU: If you don’t have all your personal and professional matters organised well online, you are long overdue for an overhaul. Create folders for each business department to store all your business resources in logical places. Set up spaces to manage your personal things too: photos, health records, contracts and agreements etc. Keep building out the infrastructure you need to create safe, secure places for the information that will keep you afloat, even when the unexpected happens.

… oh! And secure everything with encrypted password protection. We use 1Password.

Insure Well

I don’t own the building I live in, so I would lose my rental home if it burned to the ground. I would also lose my possessions, but I am insured well so I could set myself up again. It would be hugely painful to lose sentimental things that can never be replaced. That would hurt, a lot. But I could buy another car and furnish another home. If something happened to me (heaven forbid), my children would be financially looked after for many years to come. The plans for my funeral are stored in Drive and shared with my 22-year-old daughter.

FOR YOU: Review your insurance policies to make sure they are up to date and your coverage is adequate. Be certain that you will have what you need to pay for new contents, medical care, or even a funeral if it’s needed. Also confirm that your loved ones will not be left with a financial burden in the unexpected event of your death. If you’re not sure, seek advice.

I cannot emphasise just how deeply wounding the loss of a loved one is. It is a painful tragedy that will always hurt. The last thing you need when you are coming to terms with this type of devastation is administrative roadblocks. Set things up now so that the chaos can at least be managed.

I pray you never see the day that this advice made a difference.

But if it does, I want you to know how to cope best.

P.S. Just so you know, the entire affair turned out to be a false alarm. There’s a faulty sensor in our basement that needs to be fixed. I hope they do it soon. Not keen on repeating this experience any time soon.

 

business leadership starts with managing your daily habits

5 Sweet Spots Of Explosive High Impact Leadership

4 MIN READ

Business leaders have a high calling to manage themselves well. Their personal integrity, resilience, and perception allow them to step up and lead their staff, clients, community, and even loved ones. Building a company that makes a genuine difference to people starts with the choices you make day by day.

Self Care Nurtures Your Priorities

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my daily habits lately. I’m dedicated to the mastery of my own self-care. I’m intent on creating strong foundations for lasting fulfilment in my life. My close relationships have always been the centre of my “Why”. They’re getting a boost from the work I’ve been doing in my daily routines. I’m more present, more connected, and more authentic now than ever before, because of some little actions I’ve been committed to each day.

No More Rollercoaster

My health and well-being are becoming increasingly important to me. I’ve put them at the top of my to-do list, and I’m seeing some incredible results. The work I’ve been doing is different from the efforts I’ve made at any other time in my life. I’ve done the speed diets, the fitness bursts, and the “get healthy fast” programs. They work when they’re on, but they stop soon after. Can you relate to that roller coaster?

On December 15, 2019, I made a decision to change my approach for good.

I will make time for self-care every single day, for the rest of my life.

No more band-aid solutions. I’m stopping knee-jerk reactions. I’m moving away from reactionary management.

This will be the last time I make the decision to care for myself first.

Instead of explosive bursts that hit with a big bang then burn out, I’ve started working a more sustainable approach:

HABITS

I’ve found the habits which empower strong business leadership are a little like fairy floss. Let me explain …

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habits are what keeps you going” Jim Rohn

1. Habits Start As Almost Nothing

The starting point of fairy floss is underwhelming. It begins with a few ingredients ready to be mixed and worked into something impressive. I’m reminded of the bible verse: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings”.

Don’t let the insignificance of the early days fool you. The humble beginnings of making new habits stick are exactly why they’re so effective. To develop new habits requires very little time and effort. It’s almost like you’re doing nothing … which is what makes this approach so accessible for busy leaders. There is no excuse for not fitting your habits in. It’s never about time. It’s always about dedication to making the recipe work for you.

2. Habits Feel Like Almost Nothing

It doesn’t matter how much fairy floss you can stuff into your mouth. It dissolves away to almost nothing very quickly. It looks so gigantic and substantial. But it is actually a big ball of sugary nothing. It disappears before you know it.

When you’re doing your habits every day, there’s very little experience of change, especially in the first few weeks. You set the intention to check off each tiny item on the list, then you do that every day. The tiny bit of time that passes is hardly missed, because it’s too short. The effort that you consume is so incidental that it barely exists. The headspace that you use becomes less than nothing, because you quickly find that you’re not even thinking about doing it! Your habits dissolve into your days and almost disappear.

3. Habits Become Comforting & Enjoyable

It’s a treat to have fairy floss, right? There’s something comforting and nostalgic about lining up at the show and watching that big ball of sugary fluff rolling around that stick. There’s a child-like burst of happiness that explodes when that sweet bundle becomes yours.

It doesn’t take too long before your habits become a daily happy place for you to delight in. Managing yourself with short, simple routines each day gives you a burst of pride that carries you through. If it was a larger investment, it might feel like an indulgence. But a few minutes here and there is just so easy to sustain. That indulgent feeling is more about your own self-respect. When you watch yourself being dedicated to your personal growth, health and wellness, it lights you up.

4. Habits Grow Into Something Powerfully Significant

If you looked at the meagre ingredients required to make fairy floss before it was made, you could very easily doubt the grandeur of the final result. The final performance of the fairy floss is a show stopper as it struts its way through to the main stage.

Habits are so utterly powerful because they work around your brain’s natural “defend and protect” mode. It can be overwhelming to think about expanding your team, tripling your revenue, taking your business global, moving your services online. But habits make it simple to avoid the binds of exhausting workload, the old “imposter syndrome”, or the “flight, fight or freeze” response. Focus all your business ambitions into the tiny actions you do each day. Create significant outcomes with small sustainable steps. Build a lasting legacy by laying one small brick at a time.

5. Habits Create Explosive Impact

The final thing about fairy floss that stands out to me is the massive zing you get from all that sugar! Now, I’m not recommending we take this metaphor so far that daily consumption of fairy floss goes onto our habit list. But still, there are lessons to be learned when we think about the powerful effects of habits over time.

You’d never imagine the impact a few well-chosen habits can make when you follow through daily. It’s the sort of difference experienced by inventors of vaccines. Winners of gold medals. Parents of healthy children. Builders of business empires. You can’t possibly achieve a life-changing difference in a short burst. But you can make a powerful impact when you embrace incremental improvement. I won’t bore you with quotes from history-making leaders, but I will ask you to Google “quotes about good habits”. Let the results speak for themselves.

 

How Boundaries Are Essential For Growth

4 MIN READ

Each year I choose a word to represent a theme that I work towards. I put the word on my phone screensaver to remind myself every day of my goals. Over the past five years I’ve guided myself to Consolidate (twice … it was a big clean up that took ages 😉), Charge, Balance, and Leverage. This little strategy has profoundly improved my life with the clarity, focus and action that comes from always being intentional, on the front foot with my aims.

I’ve been blessed with abundant growth over recent times. More invitations. More clients. More people. More relationships. More learning. More opportunities than ever before. This has been so wonderful, especially because it has highlighted the need to manage things with a focus on what matters most. My family. My health. My loved ones. My business growth.

Me time.

My ability to sustain all this goodness in ways that allow me to continue to pass on the abundance I’ve been given to others.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything” Warren Buffet

My word for this year is Boundaries. I spent the last couple of months of last year preparing for this new focus, and at this point, I have built up some serious momentum. I’ve been implementing some winning strategies to activate the best ways to maximise the good things in my life. The trick is working strategies which prevent you from being overwhelmed or derailed by the sheer magnitude of it all.

Boundaries Require Clarity

I’ve already realised that setting and maintaining healthy boundaries requires crystal clear insight on my goals and preferences. Choosing the boundaries of my life means being certain about what I need and want, and what I don’t. Establishing boundaries is about knowing what I want to keep, which then shows me the things that I am best to let go of. Activating those boundaries is about finding the language to explicitly define what I choose, and politely decline the rest.

The challenge of this word has proven itself to be my toughest yet. It means I am saying ‘No’ a lot. It means I’m being more disciplined with my lifestyle choices. And it has certainly meant putting on my protector hat for the things (and people) I love most. Already, there have been times where this has felt ruthless. Practising being firm with my boundaries has already meant saying no to things I would have previously gone along with because it was easier. It’s also meant being firm with myself and my habits, creating new personal routines that carve out space for a more rewarding way of life.

Handy Tips For Your Own Boundaries

To make things straight forward, I thought I would share some tips for maintaining healthy boundaries in your own life.

Define Your Values

If you are uncertain about the things that are the most important to you, it’s going to be very difficult for you to establish boundaries in your life. Knowing what you stand for, what you exist for, and what you want in life will be the strength that you need to make strong decisions. Your core values are the very foundation of your ability to hold your ground. Knowing your purpose and making it your first priority will give you the confidence and conviction to stand firm. Get some help to define these, then protect them as if your life depends on it!

Set Clear Goals

Knowing your purpose is highly important, but if you don’t turn that mission into goals you work towards each day you will leave too much space for distractions and interruptions. This will undermine your ability to maintain healthy boundaries more than any other factor. If you develop projects with deadlines that are set in stone, you will be so busy that you won’t have time to say ‘Yes’ to things you should be saying ‘No’ to. Make your days count for something you invest deeply into. Create boundaries to protect your time and headspace from the influence of distractions. You have a legacy to build and a difference to make. Give it everything you’ve got!

Write New Scripts

When someone invites you to join their group, attend their event, sign up to their newsletter, or help with their problem, it can be flattering. But setting boundaries depends on you seeing those invitations as a red flag of distraction. If the invitation will interrupt the achievement of your goals, you simply must say ‘No’. Find ways of saying ‘Thank you but I’m busy that day’ or ‘Thank you for thinking of me but I’m working other deadlines this month/quarter/year’, or ‘I appreciate the invitation but I need to double-check how it fits with my other plans.’ Practising ways of politely declining will let you protect healthy boundaries without getting caught up in the moment.

Get Thicker Skin

The most difficult thing I find with maintaining boundaries is dealing with the feeling that I’ve let someone down or fallen short of their expectations. If this sounds like you too, I get it! We both need to remind ourselves that their needs or wants are not our responsibility. It is not up to you to make their thing work, and certainly not at the expense of your own well being. Even your children need you to maintain strict boundaries with how much they rely on you. If the people you’re saying no to are hurt, disappointed or even angry, the best you can do is be polite, explain your position, then walk away … and don’t apologise! You have nothing to apologise for. Standing your ground with your boundaries will empower you to new strength.

Celebrate Your Wins

When you do the right thing and say ‘No’, give yourself a pat on the back. When you achieve a goal because you made it your first priority, reward yourself. Establish daily routines that you celebrate following. Work towards important goals that really matter. Mark the success of achievement with some kind of celebration. YOu might reward your success by taking time off. Buying new shoes. Giving an hour to your favourite book or TV show. Having a night out with your loved ones. Whatever you do, make sure that you motivate yourself to conquer the challenges of setting boundaries by rewarding your victories.

 

I’m expecting my focus on boundaries will progressively clear the way for more abundance than I’ve ever experienced. Because like all great management projects, it will clean out all the ordinary or even good things in my life that have actually prevented me from accessing the BEST things.

I wonder what your focus is for this year? How are you going with it? It’s a new year … a new decade. A chance to take everything you have now and turn it into something spectacular. What will it be?

 

Home Truths About Business Leadership

3 MIN READ

With all of us in isolation lately, we’ve been spending vastly less time around others than our usual schedules would require. It’s got me to thinking about the person we are when nobody is looking. I’ve been reflecting on how to make the most of the extra time we have to spend with ourselves at the moment. My thoughts lead me to realise a powerful key to personal growth. Today, I wanted to share it with you:

Who you are in private determines what people see in public.

A Time For Reflection

There’s a significant reduction in the amount of face time many have with their staff, their friends, and even their family and loved ones right now. Many are working from home, pushing through the distractions that come from children, pets, partners and even deliveries. Some are struggling through at their dining tables or makeshift work stations without a dedicated space to get stuff done. Others, like myself, have adult children living out of home now, so isolation brings the sadness of not being able to visit them or other loved ones.

I bet all of us are missing the comfort of our old routines, and the familiarity of how things were. Despite the massive changes we’ve been forced to navigate lately, all of us have been gifted with a unique opportunity to dig down deep to explore more of what we’re really made of in this season of isolation.

I’d love to invite you to join me in this special time of reflection by having a “heart to heart” with yourself. Who we are now is everything. How we respond in ourselves will make a defining difference to the outcomes we experience on the other side of the crisis.

“The empires of the future are empires of the mind” Winston Churchill

Do Your Routines Serve You?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Take a look around the landscape of your “normal life”. Honestly evaluate how you’re going with managing the areas that are key to fulfilment and well-being. Boldly ask yourself if you’re happy with the state of your health, your relationships, your mindset and mood, your financial management, your business growth, and other areas that are important to you as a person.

The physical distance you need to keep right now might just be a blessing. It may well give you the space to conduct a lifestyle audit you’ve never had the opportunity to do before. Take advantage of the viewpoint you have right now to create some healthy new habits in your life. Match your intentions and ambitions with the little actions that will progressively create ease and flow across every area of your life.

Are You Getting Where You Want To Go?

“Long term success is a direct result of what you achieve every day. Goals provide your daily routine” Rick Pitino

For many business leaders, this lifestyle audit has been long overdue. The small things you do each day lead directly to the circumstances experienced by your family, your staff, and of course by you! If you’ve become stuck in a rut now is the time to acknowledge where you are and plan to turn the corner. The insights you uncover and plans you devise now in isolation may change the very future of your company.

Have the courage to think about how things actually run in your business. Will the way routine work is managed actually lead you to the achievement of your goals? Are your staff engaged and productive at work? Is everyone clear on exactly what they need to do, how it needs to be done, and why they are doing the work at all? Business success relies on clear vision being activated in tight workplace routines.

Do You Feel Free And Empowered?

“Freedom is people realising they are their own leader.” Diane Nash

I’ve never met a business owner who started their business because they wanted to work long hours and get stuck at work fixing other people’s mistakes. Every owner I know, plus all those in the research, says they are in business because they want to make a real difference. They want to be their own boss and enjoy freedoms in their lifestyle, their finances, and their relationships.

If you cannot confidently say that your daily routines at home and at work have created a lifestyle of freedom and empowerment for you and yours, it is time for a change. The entire world is in transition! You have the chance now to prepare for new outcomes. Set up new ways of working which liberate you from the burden of business growth. Develop systems which elevate your team and increase their performance at work. Create new boundaries for your life which lock away time for the things that matter most.

Now you can work in private to make a big difference in public. Now it is time to focus only on building a business that can make an impact that lasts.