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How do you protect your business from employees?

3 MIN READ

Protecting your business assets must be a high priority for all owners on a good thing with their products and services. However, when your priority shifts to become focused on guarding against your own employees, you have a problem. This is like a red flag of dysfunctional culture waving an urgent alarm that things are not ok.

This is a question I saw posted on social media recently. A real question from a real business owner. The assumptions implied in the phrasing of this question are a concern to me. If you have a culture based on opposition, suspicion and defensiveness you have a foundation for a very unhealthy company. If you’re asking these questions you won’t get far with ensuring confidence and investment from your team.

This business owner thought they had a problem with their staff. But what they really have is a problem in their culture. Instead of asking the best way of protecting your business assets from your own employees, why not ask:

“How can you create confidence and security for your team whilst harnessing your operational IP?”

“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”
Angela Ahrendts

THIS is a question worth answering! My quick thoughts on the matter:

Protecting Your Business Assets Starts With Establishing Ownership

Of course, the protection of your most valuable assets is essential to business stability. Make sure your team members understand from the outset that all operational knowledge, resources, tools, inventions and developments are ultimately owned by the business. Not by you personally, or by them personally. Documented this in your team employment contracts, signed and dated by you and your staff member. A clause like this does more than protect your company’s operational IP legally. It sends a message to every member of your staff that it’s all for one and one for all at “Team You!”

System Access Should Only Ever Be An Inside Job

Secure all your business logins in an online service which stores sensitive information securely. We use 1Pasword in our team, but LastPass is another popular solution for you as well. Using these encrypted storage tools offers more than the protection of your logins. It guards your staff against the fallout of losing logins or having them fall into the wrong hands. It creates efficiency with faster access procedures, and it creates security for the data being protected. Password software also makes offboarding really efficient in the sad eventuation that a team member needs to leave. You can simply remove their access from the company password service and they’re free to move on.

Build Safe, Accessible Systems On Solid Tech Foundations

I worked with a company in 2019 who still used a local server to store their company business. This old technology is not as secure or efficient as migrating to cloud-based data storage. All your data can be protected by encryption as well as unique logins and access rights for each user. All your data usage can be tracked by many services. This means you see who has been accessing data, when they did it, and exactly what they did. And all data is then made available from anywhere in the world. Storing your company data in the cloud increases efficiency and accountability. Most of all, it celebrates a culture of transparency which keeps people on the same team, without compromising on security for your company.

Protecting Your Business Assets Is A Team Effort

Involving all team members in the development of operational processes is a perfect recipe for engagement. When people are involved in creating the type of workspace they want to work in, their personal investment into the company soars. Make sure they understand just how much the company values their input, and use the task of process documentation as an opportunity to celebrate and reward their knowledge. Then secure this documentation behind encrypted logins, stored centrally in the cloud for fast, safe, shared access.

Above all else, the development of a safe, invested workforce starts with positive leadership coming “from the top”. If leaders at the executive level use language which undermines the positive, invested culture of teamwork and collaboration at work, it will follow that the team will operate in kind. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy you never want to see play out in your company.

Yes, security is important. Especially as time marches on bringing with it new threats and concerns at every turn. But implementing effective security measures does not mean developing a culture of mistrust and fear. Your employees need those security measures just as much as your company does. Just remember the power of your language and the influence that you have as the leader of your company. It’s always the little things that lead to the creation of a healthy, positive company culture.

resilience for business owners

3 Ways Resilience Blocks Business Growth

3 MIN READ

Resilience for business owners is usually something people think of highly. Pushing through hardship to emerge victoriously is celebrated by successful business owners everywhere. It is certainly an asset to be able to battle through challenges in business. Surviving tough times is an essential aspect of business success, but is it always a positive thing?

Don’t get me wrong. You should be genuinely proud of the way you have grown your business, holding on with white-knuckled determination to make it through. Like all your peers, things have not always been easy for you in business. But you have prevailed. Every win you’ve enjoyed has been possible because you gritted your teeth and decided to battle through. You chose to forge a pathway of success right through the eye of the storm.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Nelson Mandela

Resilience is essential for business owners intent on achieving increasing levels of success. However, there is a risk that the pride you take in your ability to push through could be holding you back. Let me explain …

Resilience focuses on survival instead of growth

When you’re battling it out in the trenches of adversity, making it out alive is the name of the game. You need to harness every resource you have and direct all your efforts towards overcoming the threat. It is vital that when tough times come, you have the strength, tenacity and determination to survive. This approach itself is not a problem, but it can’t draw you on to greater heights.

If you’re a survivor you need resilience, but if you have the visionary aspirations of a leader you will rise from strength to strength to build a legacy others only dream of. This is how you can lead your business away from the battler phase through to wide open spaces of lasting influence. Shifting away from the survival mentality empowers ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results in their business.

A dependency on hardship can become an identity problem

Business owners should take pride in their resilience. In fact, often this resilience becomes a defining attribute of the person themselves. When you pride yourself on being the one who pushes through, others will notice. You will inspire others to keep fighting through their own tough times, and you will likely inspire yourself. These are all good things.

But if the story ends there, you will always be tied to the battle, and you will inadvertently create a model for others to stay tied to their battles too. If you ultimately see yourself as a battler, you will always be drawn to battles. As a result, you will never be free of those battles. You will never rise above to access freedom, abundance, and true wealth. How you see changes what you see. Lift your vision beyond the trenches. Do away with the drama. Don’t look for what you can achieve by winning the fight. Instead, look outside the fight altogether. Imagine what life could be like if you weren’t caught that cycle any more.

Resilience attracts battlers

“It’s great to see you! How have you been?”

“Oh, it’s been tough. I’ve got problems with my staff, delays with my suppliers, and my daughter is 16 going on 35. Need I say more!”

“Yes, I know what you mean. I’ve been working late all month fixing mistakes my staff made, and I’ve got stock stuck on a dock because of a strike. And my son… suspended for two days because he just can’t keep his mouth shut. I’m hearing you.”

Does this type of conversation sound familiar to you? Like attracts like. If you’re wearing your tough times like a badge of honour, chances are you’ll find others who approach life exactly the same way. Jim Rohn says you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Take a look around your circle and honestly evaluate the attitudes your closest people have. Then, pause to consider the effect this might be having on you and your attitude.

At the end of the day, resilience will get you through almost anything, so it is vital for business success. But it is only ever useful amidst hardships. Isn’t life meant to be a little better than that?

How To Achieve Business Freedom

3 MIN READ

Business freedom is a motivating driver for the vast majority of owners. Having the freedom to make choices with your time, relationships, health and finances is a goal that keeps most business leaders pushing through. No matter how much hardship or adversity they face, many owners will keep chasing that pot of freedom goal at the end of the rainbow. Where others would fail, those set on freedom are determined to prevail.

I wonder though … have you thought much about the relationship between freedom and control? As you pursue increasing amounts of freedom, you may have noticed the correlation. It takes dedicated hard work to persist through challenges, and disciplined focus to keep your eyes on the prize. You need to harness all your resources and strategically mobilise them towards the achievement of your aims. Controlling your attitude, schedule, finances, workflow and attention are all essential aspects of gaining freedom.

“Freedom cannot be bestowed — it must be achieved.” Elbert Hubbard

Business freedom allows you to throw off the shackles of obligation, constraint and expectation. However, there is a directly related value in embracing the benefits of control. Working hard at freedom in these five areas will allow you to reap boundless rewards of liberty.

 

Business Freedom Is You At Your Best

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” Albert Camus

Self-control is foundational to business freedom. Indeed, freedom in all things comes down to your ability to manage yourself and your choices well. Choose who you want to become, then take powerful strides to make that person alive each day. Developing maturity in conflict leads to harmony and positive influence. Growing in your ability to manage your own wellness results in a long life of energised zest. Aspiring to become your best self relies on you making responsible choices. This will allow you to be who you want to become in any given moment.

 

Freedom Relies On Independent Thought

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” Socrates

You cannot possibly enjoy freedom is your mind is not your own. In this way, empowering yourself to increasing liberty is about finding your own highest thoughts. When you dedicate yourself to learning you gain a stream of sharp insights to make wise decisions. Surrounding yourself with intelligent, empowered people who share your values will help with this too. Setting clear boundaries in your social life, and making firm commitments to your own improvement will enhance your freedom as nothing else can.

 

You Can Choose Freedom Responses

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” Vicktor Emil Frankl

I urge you to read “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. The pages of this book show you how to make freedom choices better than any other I have read. You will see truths that continue to become evident in daily life. Your freedom starts with your mindset, which creates the attitudes you bring to your daily life. Regardless of hardship, opposition or deficit, you can respond to every situation with a freedom mindset. It won’t always be easy, but the journey will define you. If you get it right, you will access untold power to make positive impacts on all those around you, simply by being truly free.

 

Business Freedom Comes From Hard Work

“Shovel today’s challenges for your tomorrow’s freedom” Aniekee Ezekiel

Yes, life is tough. Today might be one of the toughest you have faced so far. You may feel like you are facing limitations and setbacks at every turn. But the only way out of these constraints is working right through them. Decide to engage your full self in resolving conflicts, developing strength and advancing your position. Avoidance only takes you off track. Even amidst the most overwhelming adversity is the opportunity to breakthrough in resilience. Work hard to be your best, learn better ways, and make positive choices. This is the key to freedom.

 

Discipline Is Key To Freedom

“Discipline will put you on the path to strength and health and intelligence and happiness. And most important, discipline will put you on the path to FREEDOM” Jocko Willink

Being disciplined is not a trendy habit or a sexy concept. Ideas of self-control, strict self-management and regimented routines are rarely connected with conversations of freedom. However, real freedom relies on discipline, and this is especially true in business. You might know the experience of working hard to increase your sales, expand your workforce, or finally get some long-overdue time off. In my experience, I have found that freedom in business does not magically appear. Business freedom is the reward that comes from a ruthless dedication to being consistent in the little things which lead to big results.

 

Why busienss leaders must work less

Why Leaders Simply Must Work Less

3 MIN READ

Self care for business owners is often conceived as an “indulgent luxury” that many believe they can’t afford. Are you like the average business leader wearing your long work hours like a badge of honour? Many owners pour blood sweat and tears into building their company with the pride of a martyr. Have you stopped to consider the price you are really paying?

I’m a big fan of hard work. However, if all that effort is not actually bringing you the results you want, maybe it’s time to look for a better way. There are several reasons that looking after yourself equates to preserving the best interests of your company. Self care for business owners comes down to realising that business health and personal health go hand in hand.

A Tired Body Can’t Work Well

Did you know the average person spends 649,401 hours sleeping during their lifetime? I bet there are some days you’d love to stack up 10 or 20 of those hours and enjoy them all in one go! Caring for yourself does not only come down to managing a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. SleepFoundation.org tells us that sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.

Crafting a lifestyle that allows you to go to bed early most nights of the week will work wonders for your personal health. As a result, your performance at work will be more energised, focused and productive. Set up some firm boundaries around how you manage your schedule to make sure you are in the driver’s seat of your sleep pattern.

A Tired Brain Can’t Solve Problems

Exhaustion will always lead you quickly to survival mode. As a result, your vision narrows to focus only on perceived threats. Your ability to reason progressively shuts down. Reactivity replaces deliberation. A real or even perceived threat can help mobilise your attention. However, this is not the approach of a well-balanced leader. When it comes to solving complex problems that have multiple variables, you need your highest cognitive resources.

Real-life has certainly shown us that threats can come out of the blue. A clear, well-rested brain can gauge multiple factors of any given challenge much more effectively than one that is tired and overwhelmed. Set aside time each week for thinking. Yoga might suit you, or meditation. Perhaps you’re more like me and love getting your heart rate up with some exercise. Do whatever you need to do to clear your mind so you can approach challenges with your best foot forward.

A Tired Heart Can’t Connect

I’ve never met a business owner who was not motivated by the desire to spend more time with the people they love. Being your own boss always involves the freedom to enjoy healthy fulfilling relationships with those you hold dear. When we’re looking at ways to increase levels of self care for business owners, this must be overtly connected to enhancing intimate connections.

When you miss out on sleep you become snappy, irritable and stressed. A recent study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 25% of participating couples were too sleep-deprived to even have sex. Exhaustion and burnout were never the aims you set out to achieve in your business. If you have been too busy to change this situation for yourself, perhaps you would consider adjusting your lifestyle for the sake of the relationships you have with your family and friends.

Why busienss leaders must work less

“Leaders live by choice, not by accident.” ~ Mark Gorman

A Tired Mind Can’t Create

Your business growth relies first and foremost upon creativity, innovation, and mastery of change. Prioritising time to rest and recharge will not only create space for more of your brilliant ideas. It will also a ignite the leader in you so your team are also encouraged to bring their best innovations and ideas.

Overworking suffocates your business growth. Far too many owners spend too long in video conferences and phone calls, too much time in front of your computer, and too many hours running the hamster wheel of business life. This results in you inadvertently wasting the very resource your business needs to remain vibrant and alive: creativity. Nurture your inventive self, and show up at work fresh for your team to champion their creativity as well.

A Tired Spirit Can’t Imagine

Effective self care for business owners celebrates you as the inspired genius who conceived this entire operation in the first place. It was your big idea that got this business off the ground. Things have continued to move forward because of your insight and your creative flair. The one thing that only you can offer your growing company is the inspiration of a leader.

Perhaps it would be wise to pause and ask yourself about the life you want to create moving forward. With so much up in the air right now, it is the perfect time to conduct a bit of an overhaul. At the end of the day, you may as well pursue the life you actually want, right?

 

time management tips that work

The Little Things Make Big Things Happen

4 MIN READ

Time management is a term so overly used that it has come to mean almost nothing. In our supremely fast-paced society, we dedicate our days to grand projects and pressing deadlines. We set goals and push through daily pressures, resistance and obstacles to achieve them. Sometimes it is easy to become so focussed on the elusive rewards of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that we become disconnected from the here and now. 

If your aim is to become the master of time management, it’s time to grab hold of one simple truth:

It’s the little things that make big things happen. 

On their own, most of the little jobs and activities you do each day don’t amount to much. Even if you had constantly clean workplaces, crystal clear filing and record-breaking levels of output, they wouldn’t make that much of a difference in themselves.

time management tips that work

“Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.” Lord Chesterfield

Lasting impact is made when each small part of your business system flows freely. This is the only way any organisation can consistently generate positive change. Effective time management comes down to these five simple principles:

Leaders Maximise Their Time

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler

When it comes to making the most of your time, it’s all too easy to fall into the victim trap without even realising it. With your overfull schedule this week you might wonder how you will get anything done. The phone rings and you need to attend to someone else’s urgent priority. Then there are your family, friends and team members who seem to need you constantly.

If your schedule is too busy you are the only one who can change that. Regardless of the demands on your time or the pressures around you, you do have the capability to carve out the time you need. Block out No Go Zones that are reserved for the achievement of your aims without negotiation.

 

Effective Planning Is Foundational To Time Management

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

Jumping headlong into the first task that pops into your mind without mapping out a plan is a recipe for time-wasting. Develop a system which reminds you of the routine tasks you need to complete regularly, and schedule time for these. Then set up a notes system to get all those work thoughts out of your head and recorded somewhere for reference. I love my Rocketbook for this (and so does the environment 😉  ).

Once you have all those tasks and projects out of your head and in front of you, it’s time to map out a plan. Larger projects are best managed with software such as Trello, Asana or Monday.com. Work that can be completed in one sitting should be set as daily goals. The message here is to plan your work then work your plan.

 

Managing Time Means Forget About Multi-Tasking

“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.” Mozart

Slipping into old habits of distraction is a perfectly normal challenge to overcome when mastering the use of your time. You might find your self with 20 browser tabs open at any given time. Perhaps you have three emails drafts that can’t be sent until you complete them. Maybe you have shiny new tech tools that you bought but never got around to installing or implementing. You might even tell yourself your brain works best with multiple pots on the boil.

If increasing your output whilst reducing stress is your aim, this has to stop. You can’t argue with science. Your brain is not capable of giving high-level attention and focus to more than one task at one time. Set up one task, work on it until it is done, then focus on switching quickly between tasks. If you need to capture those runaway thoughts that spring up while you’re working, make a habit of working with a notebook beside you.

 

Prioritise Your Efforts To Make The Most Of Your Time

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important.” Steven Covey

Setting boundaries around your life’s most vital priorities, then maintaining these boundaries ruthlessly is key. This is the only way to succeed in making the most of your time. Not everything you are tasked with is urgent. Indeed not everything you have on your plate right now is important. Some of the things on your to-do list are probably not even relevant to where you’re headed. If you’re struggling with knowing what to invest your time and effort into, your first step to managing your time well is to sort that out.

I realised long ago that true success is about choosing what you want, then choosing what you are willing to give up to get it. Dedicate yourself to clarifying exactly what you want out of your life. Commit to finding what you want to give back. Purchase some personal development books to focus your vision. You might even reach out to a coach or mentor to help you find your purpose.

 

What Does Your Time Really Mean?

At the end of the day, the big things in your life rely on the little things to work. Mastering each moment is the only way to truly create the impact you’re looking for. Functioning smoothly in wide open workspaces elevates your performance. Quickly accessing quality resources fuels transformational outcomes. Producing exemplary results every time turns your workers into leaders. All of this comes back to their ability to make the most of their time.

Becoming empowered with skills and strategies to master your time, means the energy you spend on the little things feeds the achievement of the big thing. When companies function this way, every effort contributes to the delivery of solutions which change your clients’ world.  

 

Power Doesn’t Come From Within

3 MIN READ

Empowering yourself as a leader starts with connecting your personal capacity with the opportunities you can find in the world. Facing upheaval often causes many of us to question how much control we really have in our lives. There are so many things we simply have no power over in life. However, it’s important to remember that even amidst the most brutal circumstances, we are powerful to withstand and even affect dramatic change.

Quite simply, we do not lack power. But sometimes, it’s easy to become confused about how to activate that power to face everyday challenges. Massive problems arise when you try to empower yourself as a leader by trying to manufacture a power you can’t actually believe.

You Need To Prove Your Capacity To Believe It

You are a smart person. You’re intelligent, thoughtful, and reflective about yourself and the difference you want to make. As a result, you need evidence for your beliefs. A motivational seminar will make you feel great, but it won’t necessarily prove that you are powerful. Positive affirmations will help you, but they won’t allow you to actually demonstrate your capacity. Even when you visualise yourself rising to new heights, you still lack the experiential evidence that your highly evolved brain needs to be convinced that you can really reach those peaks.

IMG_4401.JPG

I’d like to suggest that the journey of empowering yourself as a leader relies on you putting your own power into action. Like all of us, you have a unique power primed for activation within yourself. To realise your unique capacity, you need to embrace the reality that empowerment can only be situational.

The opportunities we need to empower ourselves as leaders come from the world around us

I lost my voice in 2009 after working through a sinus infection I developed while teaching. The effects of the injury sent me into a spiral of powerlessness which lasted a total of eighteen gruelling months of isolation. Progressively, I developed a very healthy depression complete with flourishing drinking habit. I was a mess, emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially. It was the most disempowered I have ever felt.

Making positive progress through this dark time depended on me proving to myself that I really was in control of myself.  To stop drinking and start to win over the depression, I had to go without the drink. Then I had to start performing the actions of a happy person: running, laughing, dancing, loving my friends and family actively. This season taught me lessons that have helped me ever since. It just might help you muster up your own fullness as well:

TODAY’S BEST IS TOMORROW’S BENCHMARK:

Following a pathway of genuine improvement is the only way to empower yourself as a leader, because this provides daily proof that you can withstand and even create change. This means taking on a lifestyle of constant increase, always pursuing new heights. You get to enjoy the rewards of this moment while taking in the panoramic views of the bright future ahead.

Living this way means that you can resist backing down or making compromises, even when tough times come. This mindset means this part of your life is better than it has ever been before, and it can only get better from here.

NEVER BREAK A DEAL WITH YOURSELF:

You will never believe you are powerful if you watch yourself fail at commitments. Honestly, you are better to never make the commitment in the first place than make one and break it. This is because your self-respect is the central pillar of your power. Once you make a promise to yourself, you must keep it if you want to succeed in empowering yourself as a leader.

I encourage you to pause before you make a commitment because failing to achieve them can have a damaging and even destructive effect. Instead, try this approach to goal setting:

SET UP WINS, NOT GOALS:

Rather than being set in stone, your goals can function more as an expectation of the sequence of wins you have set yourself up for. You will always get better at being your best if you simply practice being that person in your daily life. To pursue any goal you must first let go of it. This relief from striving will prevent you from the burnout that comes from chasing big goals that seem unobtainable. And it will allow you to take new risks in business without the pressure of being tied to the outcome.

Remember your most reliable source of empowerment comes from the small smaller wins you achieve consistently. The greatest endeavour is making a life that allows you to string these wins together.

 

You can take each of these three approaches into every area of your life when empowering yourself as a leader. The attributes of self-respect, constant improvement, persistence, and celebrating wins will always offer more lasting reward than finite, limited progress. These attributes give us the lasting proof you need to believe that you are able to make a lasting difference.  Watch your own successful performance in the world, then transform that evidence into the belief that you can turn any disaster into an opportunity for growth and achievement.

 

Sending A Burst Of Positive Energy

3 MIN READ

Today, a moment that taught me a fresh way to practice love and goodness.

We picked my son up the other day to do the grocery shopping. He is 25 and lives a couple of suburbs away with no car. If we are out and about doing our own errands we will often check to see if he needs a lift. It’s a wonderful low-key way to catch up and get things done at the same time.

This was a big day for him. Only one week earlier the beautiful black cat that he has adopted as his own over the last couple of years was moved away. GiGi was never actually his cat, but with my son’s housemates complaining constantly about the cat, the owner had decided to relocate this gorgeous little creature to a more welcoming home.

My son was absolutely devastated. If you have ever lost a pet you know the grief can feel just the same as losing any other family member. He was gutted beyond words and searching to find ways to resolve the heartbreak.

My son is also a typical young man with no girlfriend. As we drove towards the supermarket we happened to pass a beautiful young girl with simply stunning long brown hair. I commented that her hair was to die for. My son agreed. “She is absolutely gorgeous,” he said.

The conversation moved on but as a big thinker, my son was clearly still reflecting on this girl, the universe, and the meaning of existence. He looped back around to the conversation.

“Do you ever send bursts of positive energy to people?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“Well like, if you see someone beautiful like that girl, or you’re away from someone you love, do you ever send them a wave of positive energy and hope that it somehow reaches them?”

Oh my!

My eyes instantly filled with tears at the beauty of this practice.

“That is absolutely beautiful!” I say in overwhelm.

“Yeah …” he continues. “Like with GiGi. I can’t see her anymore and I don’t know where she is but whenever I think of her I send her a burst of energy and hope that she feels it.”

“There is only one happiness in life. To love and be loved” Georges Sand

I have a lump in my throat and tears filling my eyes as I reflect this morning.

Regardless of what you believe about God, religion, politics or the meaning of life itself, the power of goodness cannot be understated. The impact that we have on each other can never be denied. Often it is easy to forget just how much effect we can and do have on those around us.

The privilege of connection with others is a humbling honour bestowed upon us all. Whether you are a member of a family, a team at work, a sporting club or a community group, what you do with, and who you are to, the people around you influences the way they experience life. Moreover, the way you approach people actually defines the way you experience your own life. By giving love freely, that gift reflects back to bless your life as much as it does the rest of the world.

You might be devastated by grief, broken by failure, empty with loss, or overwhelmed by anxiety in lockdown.

But love.

I would normally have some short points for you to take away and ponder over the next few days, but today, there is only one message. Simple? Yes … but the most powerful one of all to carry us all through even the most devastating losses or gruelling challenges.

Love.

Love.

Love.

That is all. And it is everything.

 

Why Your Attention Matters

5 MIN READ

Every day is about creating experiences which make life worth living. If you’re reading this instalment today, I daresay you and I have something incredibly important in common … We want the most out of life!

Many people say their health is their top priority, and of course, no-one could argue this is highly valuable … but for years now I’ve thought that time is my most precious resource. Lately, I’ve been reconsidering this; what if our attention is what matters most to leading a rich, rewarding life?

Don’t get me wrong … I value time highly. Once your time is spent, it can never be gained back. With your time you invest in the things you hold most dear. You spend time with your loved ones, time building your business, and (hopefully) time caring for yourself. If you’re really honest with yourself you can evaluate what is most important to you by examining how you use your time. You might like to think that your well-being is vitally important to you, or your finances, or your family. However, if you haven’t given these things enough time, you will inevitably start to feel the effects. Over time, a lack of investment into those pillars of success will usher in a reality check.

“You become what you give your attention to.”
Epictetus, The Art of Living

These things are all true, but I am not sure they really target the heart of the matter.

In managing rapidly shifting landscapes across multiple fronts, my reflections have lead me to a new perspective. My clients are looking for more straight forward methods of service delivery lately, which has caused me to look at new business models. My family life is moving into different seasons which has brought new approaches into focus. My body is not as young as it used to be, and I’m making the achievement of my goal to run a half marathon a top priority.

You have unique things which consume your thoughts, and your time. You move through shifting seasons constantly learning, adjusting and maneuvering to navigate your days. You make decisions which have the power to change your circumstances and create new outcomes. But all of these don’t “just happen.”

Whether you consider the state of your health, relationships, business, lifestyle, finances, or any other important aspect of life, one thing remains constant. It is your attention which drives your thoughts, behaviours, feelings and results. Take a look at your calendar … your attention drives your schedule! Here are three ways I have found this to be particularly true for business leaders in pursuit of success.

What you see is what you know

You might sit next to your partner on a bright sunshiny day and take in the same view across a grassy parkland. You can both see the same things, but your attention is very different. As a result of that experience, one might come to know that cycling has become increasingly popular of late. They will see cyclists pedalling by, and they will develop a theory about that. Then, as they see more, their theory will be reinforced. It will remind them that they read about this in the news last week. And they will come to know that truth for themselves.

The other will see just how many children are out of schools that have been temporarily closed. They will see children out and about, then they will look for more. They will remember their nephew is homeschooling with their sister, and their evolving knowledge about the effects of closing schools down will be reinforced.

You come to know what you pay attention to. Knowledge can’t be gained any other way.

The only knowledge you will ever possess is that which you have learned. You can only know what you have paid attention to. The internet is full of knowledge that you will never access, and your friends have knowledge you will never share. Your thoughts, beliefs and outlook all stem from what you have been paying attention to.

 

What you see is what you feel

We got stuck in a lift the other day. We needed to get from the Level 2 shops to the Level 1 carpark. Social distancing restrictions meant we couldn’t share the lift with any other shoppers, so we walked our trolley in, pressed the Level 1 button with our knuckle, and watched the doors close. The people on Level 3 had already pressed the button to direct the lift upwards, so we took a ride that way. We awkwardly watched the lift doors open and saw the Level 3 people waiting for access. But all of us knew we couldn’t share the lift, so the doors closed, and we headed downwards. Unfortunately, we only got as far as Level 2 before those lift doors opened again to the people there. They had pressed the button to bring us back. We bounced between Level 2 and Level 3 not once, twice or three times, but FOUR times! Every time the door opened at each level the line of people queueing got longer. And we got more and more embarrassed.

My fiance was good-natured about it as he went into fix-it mode. He saw a social problem that desperately needed solving, and his attention was firmly on doing just that.

My son and I, on the other hand, were in hysterics. We saw how truly absurd the problem was and we were bedside ourselves. I had tears streaming down my face. It was sheer bliss to focus my attention on the hilarity of it all.

Your emotions come from what you pay attention to. Feelings can’t be accessed any other way.

 

What you see is what you get

2019 was a personally challenging year for me. I’d made some poor business decisions which lead to some aspects of my work screaming for closure. My health and fitness goals had been undermined several times by sickness. My tiny apartment increasingly felt like a shrinking shoebox, and I’d worked myself into a tightly wound ball of stress. Every day looked at the mess I had created with hopelessness. I didn’t turn my attention to the resources I did have for business building, the parks I had nearby, or the gym I had just down the road. And I didn’t really savour the loving relationships I enjoyed, the health I had, or my opportunities to create new business outcomes. I was miserable because I paid attention to the lack, rather than my wealth.

Then in December, we moved house. I decided to shift my attention and the results have been truly transformational. I started to focus on my power to change my financial situation. I saw my ability to create a fresh start in business, and I loved taking in the parks and gym nearby. My despair was replaced with hopeful optimism because I started seeing what was there in a new way. This opened new possibilities.

In short, I chose to focus on gratitude and I dedicated myself to progressive improvement. I let go of the gigantic goals that I’d fallen short of in 2019, choosing instead to pay attention to incremental gains. I’m slowly building more success into my business and finances, my health and wellness and my relationships. I’m losing weight, building strength and creating winning business outcomes.

Your outcomes arise from what you pay attention to. New starts and fulfilling results can’t be achieved any other way.

 

The most exciting part about all of this is the power we have to transform our lives by shifting our focus. Do you have goals you are trying to achieve? Knowledge you’d like to acquire? Changes you want to create? Set your sights on paying attention. Be present to seeing the pathway towards those outcomes. Look out for ways to make your attention serve your highest self and lead you to profound fulfilment.

 

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.

 

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?