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When Life Gives You Lemons

Why Do Unnecessary Obstacles Block My Business?

Growing a business is not a task for the faint hearted. Every day you face the problems of not having enough time, money, support, clients, sales, opportunity. There is too many appointments, bills, needy people, frustrating customers, unmoving constraints. As start ups we were filled with optimism, but this real life business caper is not what we signed up for. With a few business years under our belts we can get to feeling like change is never going to happen and growth is impossible. We start feeling the desperation of despair and hopelessness. But I have news for you about those obstacles you face …

"Why Do Unnecessary Obstacles Block My Business?" by Kerry Anne Nelson, The Happy Widow, Melbourne based professional speaker - kerry@kerryannenelson.com - 0412 898 363

When life gives you lemons, set up a global lemonade franchise. The more lemons the better.

There are no unnecessary obstacles. every roadblock you face is exactly what you require to grow. You need them all.

Personal Roadblocks in Business

You need the ones you have made yourself because you have old mindsets that must be broken through into transformation. Start setting and stretching personal limitations with identity.

Social Roadblocks in Business

You need the ones put there by other people because they give you the chance to learn how to build a business in a world that is inherently social. Start setting and stretching personal boundaries with people.

Financial Roadblocks in Business

You need financial obstacles to make you see what I learned from Zig Ziglar: The solution to financial problems is never more money. Start setting and stretching personal strategies with resources.

Structural Roadblocks in Business

You need challenges with your structures and admin because you need to realise that without efficient, well considered systems you do not have a business that can grow … and when it’s not growing it’s dying. Start setting and stretching personal routines with time.

I have grown through seasons of hardship, challenge and trial. I have conquered through every one because I chose to see all of it as an opportunity for growth. It’s a lemons to lemonade mindset that will stop you finding reasons to stop and start you seeing opportunities to go. This blog “How You See Changes What You See” highlights my attitude best, so take a read.

There is so much you CAN do. Those challenges you call road blocks have actually built you the stage for you to grace the world with your most spectacular performance. There are no unnecessary obstacles. If you need help making a plan, this is what I do best. Contact me today to get started.

Why We Must Slow Down To Accelerate

Our western culture is too fast. We are too rash, too reactionary, too impatient, and too impulsive. We need everything yesterday. We demand everything now, and we want everything instantaneously. For a culture that is stricken by crisis across all areas of our mental health, physical wellness and personal relationships, our “rushing blur” lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. This is bad for everyone, but for small business owners, this microwave lifestyle creates three nasty problems:

Sales versus Cashflow

Trying to build a business on the strength of individual transactions looks very different to establishing healthy, sustainable cashflow operation. When our business works by chasing after the next big deal, we exchange the refreshing certainty of a surging income stream for the dangers of hot water. One day, that essential sale will not come, and that day will be followed by another, and then another. That quiet spell will hit us like a ten-year drought. We’ll find ourselves gasping for relief from unpaid supplier invoices and bills that we simply can’t afford. It will sap the life right out of us.

Chasing sales is a mugs game. I’ve had the stressful phone calls from debtors which leave you choking on payment plans that you’re not sure you can keep, as you splutter through yet another embarrassing apology. I know firsthand the anxiety of being desperate for the cash, when each sale that comes in is a very welcome sweetener to a very bitter situation. It’s very easy to become hooked on the pursuit of the sale and addicted to the thrill of the transaction.

Every business needs money coming through the till in one way or another, but when our entire operation hangs on the balance of each new deal, we are in trouble. Just because the bubble hasn’t burst yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. It’s only a matter of time.

Slow Down To Accelerate business Growth Kerry Anne Nelson

We need systems to turn our plans into cashflow

Ideas versus Plans

When our business is in the grips of our microwave mindset we jump at our first thought and try to sell it to someone instead of nurturing that seed of an idea through until it grows into a strong, sustainable plan. We humans have at least 70, 000 thoughts every single day, but 95% of these thoughts are ones we’ve already had before. We can’t possibly expect to build a strong, robust business that grows from strength to strength if we don’t give time to developing fresh, thoughtful, well considered plans for survival and then growth.

I’m a Doer. I’m naturally a go-getter and an action-taker and I have a million creative ideas that all feel like a stroke of genius the moment they hit my neurological synapse! When I talk, I talk fast and when I work, I am a blur. My fingers move across my keyboard with the speed of a thousand gazelles 😉

But in business, this tendency towards fast action is not always an asset. Indeed, experience has taught me that it can be my most costly liability. Spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years pouring yourself not into building growth, but into building systems for growth. The best investment we can make into our business is well-structured time to imagine, explore, research, document, structure and plan.

Jobs versus Systems

When jobs are done on impulse rather than being slotted into a workflow routine, we exchange the control of our business for a wild animal that ends up controlling us. Studies show that only 2% of us are good at multi tasking (Konnikova, 2014) , which explains why 40% of workplace productivity is lost to transitions. Random jobs do not a productive workplace make. We need tight systems to drive our business to its fullest potential.

Losing my husband was one of the most devastating events of my life. Aside from the personal loss though, was the business crisis I faced. My retail website was in debt, with no systems for stock control, order fulfilment, or workflow management. Despite turning over a million dollars annually with hundreds of weekly orders being processed through our warehouse, we’d been a small business with largely manual processes for our core operations. My survival after my husband died depended on implementing systems to make the most of the resources I did have. Within five weeks I had conducted a stocktake, installed inventory management software, and commenced the mammoth task of organising warehouse locations for every single line we carried. We streamlined our pick-pack process and used sales data to inform the stock we carried. Yes, this took work, but I knew that this short term investment would result in long term gain. I worked 16 hour days for six months straight, but by the end of 2014 had systemised every single job so that I could hand all of our warehouse operations over to a third party order fulfilment company. I sent my two new team members to work from home with voip phones, skype and Google drive. I sold the business 12 months after that. I was free!

From the moment we rise until the moment we retire, the jobs are there. Calling, hounding, screaming, rushing relentlessly. Like a woman’s work, the jobs in business are never done, and if we are not careful they will get the better of us. This might sound like where you are right now. Do not despair! You can clear the bottle neck of your business by exchanging sales for growing cashflow, by turning ideas into plans, and by creating systems for all of the jobs to work together like a well oiled productivity machine.

I Can Help

If you have been working hard to accelerate and now you see that you need to slow down and systemise, I would love to help. If you would like support with taking the first steps please Contact Me Here to learn more about what you can do to reclaim your time and reignite the passion you have for your business.

What If … ?

What if I can’t … ?

What if they don’t … ?

What if they won’t … ?

What if it doesn’t work … ?

Life is full of crossroad moments. We make decisions every day about the direction of our lives, but some of these choices are more significant than others. Every time we face an important choice or a change we are instantly confronted with questions and cautions. Making the right decision is always a priority, but sometimes we put a lot of pressure on trying to guarantee success. Often, our ability to choose the best pathway will give us rewards in our health, finances, relationships, business, family, career, schedule and lifestyle. These choices matter.

Over the past few years I have encountered change after change after change. Each of these moments have brought me to the point where I simply had to respond. When my husband died, I had to make choices about his funeral, our business, his personal items, where I lived. In some of these areas, I struggled to make any choice at all. Admitting that this monumental change had happened, and then responding to it positively was gut-wrenching. Alec’s coffee mug sat right alongside his other desk items for weeks, completely untouched. It was only the developing mould that finally pushed me to make the choice to remove it.

Resisting Change

It is completely understandable that when life throws an unexpected spanner in the works, we struggle to make choices. We are human. We are sensitive, vulnerable and delicate. We look for ways to avoid hurt, loss, and uncertainty. We are drawn to the familiar and to the path of least resistance. Our brain directs us to do whatever we can to maintain safety, security and comfort. All of us have an involuntary, instinctive drive towards self-preservation. This motivation is meant to keep us safe and sound. It maintains the status quo, and steadies us in places we already know and understand.

From the ease of the familiar, change is not desirable. In fact, when our agenda is to continue safely as we always have, change is the enemy. When unexpected change comes at us out of the blue, it rocks our world so hard that we think we might be buried under the rubble of the earthquake. We seriously doubt we will make it.

This dreadful feeling of overwhelm is a crisis is absolutely horrible, but what about when we meet an opportunity to CREATE changes? After the crisis has hit, we are presented with the need to refocus, redefine, redirect, rebuild. How things go now is completely up to us. This is really tough going. Our brain is naturally resistant to change, so it’s common for us to approach these times wishing that everything would just return to the way it was. But this vain hope is not reality, and if we continue to cling to it, we face the very real threat of going under.

There Is Loss

Yes, there is a time for sadness, grieving, loss, devastation, mourning, licking our wounds. It is vital that we invest into letting the full impact of the loss really hit us. Whether you have lost a partner like me, or a child or other loved one, or even if you have watched a relationship fall apart, or a business fold, these changes pack a powerful punch to our emotions. The loss hurts. Deeply. Feeling that pain is central to our ability to move through it.

And There Is More

But I know from experience that there is more. Even when the pain is still throbbing, the tears are still flowing, and our heart is still racing in terror, there is more contained in this season. Your future hangs right there in the balance of your choices. In this season you are the only one with the power to make the decisions that will change your outcome. Even at this moment in time, you can embrace change. You can harness the opportunity amidst the crisis.

Hope lives while we still have breath in our lungs

Dec 17 2014. The day I moved out of our warehouse: I had a lonely sense of hoping against hope that my plans would work. I was exhausted and terrified … but I persisted … “What if I could make it?”

From where you’re sitting now, this might seem absurd. This response goes against your instinctive reaction to protect, defend, hide, retreat. To imagine that you are powerful at this time, and that there are opportunities hidden amidst the loss almost seems irreverent, cold, heartless. This mindset presses all of the buttons of our doubt, fear and discomfort. We look for a way out. We shrink back behind guilt, and retreat to the position of victim. We throw our hands up in the air and we call it quits. We ask all of the “What If … ?” questions at the top of this blog. We concede defeat and, we dress up our surrender for a worthy parade. In the honourable name of ‘mourning’, we settle for our miserable outcome.

I know how you feel. To this day I still pinch myself that I was able to clean out Alec’s wardrobe, move away from the home that we had built together, sell the business that he loved. Yes, I faced pangs of guilt and shame and sheer disbelief at the steps that I took. Honestly, I still do at times. It does seem crude and confronting that life would go on.

But it does. And for two minutes here, I hope we can all come to an acceptance of the fact that when life thrusts you into disaster, it hurts. And when it hurts we find it harder to stand up and make choices in our lives. And we ask ourselves questions to justify that hardship. Those questions highlight the risk of failure, the potential for loss, the uncertainty of the outcome. And we use the answers to justify our retreat. Despondence. Disillusionment. Disengagement.

But we are still alive. We are the survivors of the depression, the bankruptcy, the breakup, the death of our loved one. Our heart still beats out a rhythm and our breath still whispers life. It is lovely, precious and endearing that we want to protect ourselves from additional pain. But this is not always beneficial, and it certainly doesn’t allow us to build pathways towards growth and freedom when we need to recover what we can from a devastating crisis.

So, instead of asking “What If … ?” questions that enliven fear, let’s start asking the questions that enliven faith. “What if …” we could ask questions that shine a spotlight on opportunity? We could make this entire situation into something new. We could bring honour to the season of loss. We could show ourselves and others that all is not lost. People are kind, the world is good, and life is worth living. We could dare to search for something good amidst the bad, and we could actually find it!

What if I tried?

What if I could?

What if it worked?

What if I don’t?

Finding The Voice Of My Infinite Self

To know that we are valuable is vital to the health of our very substance. As social creatures with a heart that beats for compassion, relationship and significance, each one of us can be truly fulfilled only if we know that we have made a difference. Our Infinite Self is completely realised only in service of those around us, through the establishment of a legacy that allows our effects in the world to outlast our physical bodies. We need to know that our days counted for something bigger than us, and that in finding our Purpose, we have found a way to make some one else’s life better. We want the healing refreshment of Passion for outward service.

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Daily prayer and meditation helped remind me what I was like on the inside, and this person became my offering to the world

It was by enlarging my capacity for service that I was eventually able to grow beyond my voice strain injury, but this really was no walk in the park. My treatment involved over six months of voiceless silence, which crushed me. Even as the treatment progressed and permitted an hour of talking each day, this didn’t restore my classroom, or my singing, or my time with friends and family. I had been told that I would sing and work again only if I was dedicated to the treatment that silenced everything I loved. Even if this therapy worked, I faced more than one whole year of a life of isolation. I was lost clinging to the remnants of a life that could no longer exist.

I responded poorly. My first reaction of anger was quickly followed by despair and hopelessness. I knew that a full year was too long, and this surrender ushered in a dark depression. I cried most days. The deep pain of losing everything swallowed me whole. My days started with unbearable misery, so even the discomfort of normal feelings were unbearable. Dizzy vagueness was accompanied by stomach cramps, back pain, and butterflies that made me feel sick. I turned to alcohol to drown the tiredness of my daily grieving, and ate myself into obesity in an attempt to avoid the strain that hunger brought.

But this was just the start. After about six months I started to experience panic attacks and anxiety that sent my head into a spin and made my throat constrict till it hurt. In working through my counselling, my psychologist explained to me that I had developed an adjustment disorder. At that point, I simply couldn’t find a way to accommodate this new life of silence. I took a few months to absorb this diagnosis, but then I realised that my recovery required me to learn how to be an expert in psychological flexibility. My therapist encouraged me: “It’s hard, but it’s not too hard.” She was right.

What a wonderful opportunity! In taking up this challenge, I came to love myself in entirely new ways, because I started looking for the person inside me again. I embarked on a life changing quest to reconnect with myself as an Infinite person who needed the gift of a new voice. In this search I remembered I am kind, generous, motivated, intelligent, funny, enthusiastic, energetic, ambitious, outgoing, sensitive, thoughtful, compassionate, persistent. I realised that I am a unique person who loves words and learning and talking and reading and writing. I live to serve my family, and to connect in honest transparency with others. I am driven by goals that put my strengths to work to set me free.

Remembering this person set me on a pathway to recovery where I started to find new ways of demonstrating who I always was. I didn’t need a voice to write to my people with emails and texts and social media posts, to build my business with my husband, to study psychology and learn again, and to work out and lose weight. As my confidence and happiness started to return, so did my voice, and so did opportunities to teach. At first I taught in a small group homework centre, then at university with a microphone and adult students who quietly managed their own behaviour, and then in a special behaviour school with one single student who needed all of my softly spoken attention. In retrospect, this disorder was one of my life’s most disguised blessings, because it taught me how to pursue fulfilment with real world optimism, purpose-driven flexibility, and identity-driven passion. It taught me that the cliche of ‘being true to yourself’ can only be real if we acknowledge that we always have strengths and abilities that can be used to express ourselves in ways that serve others.

In this 18 month journey of recovery I learned that all roads lead to Rome, where Rome is my unchanging identity, and all of the roads are the twists and turns of life’s journey. In getting back there, I figured out exactly what my ‘Rome’ was made of, and I realised that psychological flexibility allows my unchanging core self to adjust to any circumstance that life throws at me. The road you take really doesn’t matter, as long as it is headed to Rome.

Zig Ziglar talks about the difference between long term happiness and short term pleasure. We  all want to experience the profound happiness that comes from serving others because this lasts longer than the burst of short term pleasure that comes from seeking selfish, short term gain. We all can experience this if we combine a profound knowledge of ourselves with a defining commitment to serve others with everything we’ve got.