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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 have 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 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.

Motivated By Guilt?

This afternoon I did something I never do. I bailed on an event. I wasn’t speaking at the event (to bail on a speaking gig is unimaginable). I was a paying attendee at a one day conference for young entrepreneurs who want to maximise their opportunities for success. Sounds like me, right? So I went. And by 4:00pm I’d had enough.

The day started out perfectly. Gary Vaynerchuk live via hologram! Cool or what? It was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. Love Love Loved every bit of it!

But … this was followed by a speaker who pushed her high end finance program from a platform of fear. She sold her services from the stage, inviting every one to ask themselves one question: “Would your assets be safe if the worst case scenario actually happened to you?”

It was an interesting talk, but as she steered us around the corner from engaged to fearful, I felt a little twinge of resistance flicker in my belly. I watched a line of people file to the back to sign away their thousands of dollars. They wanted to buy themselves out of fear and into a feeling of safety. And I was concerned.

Then the next speaker brought their highly entertaining presentation to us, proudly boasting how he could make $20K in a single trade on the stock market. It was a thrilling talk, with the glitz and glamour of high finances, sharp shooters and fast tracks drawing us all in. And then he too went on to hard sell his 12 month program with the promise that he would teach you how to turn your big bucks into even bigger bucks. He sold his wares by replacing your insecurity with his confidence. He would lead his new clients away from being played by the system, to a point where they could play that system themselves for their own gain.

The day went on. We wrote down some inspiring quotes. We ate overpriced packaged food. We sat in uncomfortable chairs. We tried hard to remain positive about the day’s program. But we hit a wall.

The last straw for us was in the closing tactics of the last speaker. His knowledge of how to make money through buying and selling gold and silver was truly jaw dropping. Again, his talk had an air of ‘The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous’. He too brought a hard nosed sales pitch that would put any door to door vacuum cleaner salesman to shame. He solved the audience’s problem of poverty with fast, easy riches. He literally has three silver thrones and one made of gold. This man has the Midas touch.

The pitch didn’t end with the lucky winner of the discounted offer, or the people who remained standing only if they were committed to the program. This pitch went hard core evangelist. He actually set a timer to create urgency. Attendees had only ten minutes to rush to the back of the room, and sign away tens of thousands of dollars so that they too could learn how to live this glittering gold and silver lifestyle. And those who didn’t? Well they were labelled as those who lacked commitment. Who didn’t take action. Fence sitters. Procrastinators. They … no … WE … we were found guilty of being sub-standard entrepreneurs.

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

With clarity you walk boldly through life’s path, confident that every step enlivens your mission.

We left.

And in the car we had a rigorous discussion about the importance of establishing crystal clear insight into your identity, your mission, and your plan.

Identity: When you know who you are, and you like that person, you stand tall, and you need nothing to validate you or your choices. You don’t need to hold hands with someone to make you feel important or powerful. You already know you are.

Mission: When you are set on your purpose, nothing can deviate you from this, because it is a passion that drives you through every single day. You don’t need to follow the lead of any wolf in sheep’s clothing, regardless of how influential or successful they might seem. Because you already know where you are headed.

Plan: When you have established a strategic plan that steps you through, you activate your mission with daily progress. It is impossible to steer you off your course. You know that all roads lead to Rome, even if they are bumpy or take sharp unexpected turns. You find fulfilment and opportunity in every step of the journey.

Clarity trumps fear, confusion, guilt, insecurity, and distraction. Only then will you be truly free of the risk of others throwing you off course. To have this clarity in these three pillars of your life is to have a freedom that simply can’t be stopped.

The Drama Queen Needs Her Cameo

We have all experienced the moment where we come face to face with our inner Drama Queen. When her warped perspective meets her powerful expression there is little we can do to stop her. She shines in all her glory. She is like a runaway train, gaining speed with every hyperbole, building force with every gesture, gathering spectators with every scandalous embellishment. She is compelling. She is passionate. She is unleashed and she is fiery.

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Our Drama Queen can show us how we really feel

It is rare to encounter our Drama Queen when things are ok. Typically, she comes out when there is a problem. For me, she emerges in my tiredness, my stress, my moments of pressure. She can also appear when we are jealous, insecure, impatient, afraid, hurt or offended. She rises on the wings of our weaknesses and is fuelled by the reward of emotional release. She is the one inside all of us who loves to vent. To spread the news far and wide. To raise the eye brows of onlookers, and elicit oooohs and aaaaaahs from the crowd. She loves to receive a hug of support, a vote of confidence, words of supportive pity, the of adoration of her audience.

All the Drama Queen wants is her stage. She loves nothing more than to capture the attention of the crowd. Then she has them mesmerised, captivated, as she puts on yet another stellar performance. She will hold any one and every one, as tightly as she can, for as long as she can. Whenever our inner Drama Queen rears her head she is a force to be reckoned with.

It would be easy to admonish that Queen, to shout her down with rotten tomatoes being thrown from the front rows. At the height of her show, she is abhorrent. She is self-seeking, indulgent, immature, and unbalanced. She has little regard for her fellow cast members in life. Her only concern is to satisfy her impulsive, fleeting whims with the accolades of others.

I have heard many a speaker, preacher, therapist and coach advise us to do away with the Drama Queen, because she has the potential to destroy us and everything we hold dear. But I think there is more to it.

In 2005 I had the privilege of working in a Steiner school as part of my primary teacher training. This was an experience unlike any other, and one that I will treasure until the day I die. The children there had lots in common with children elsewhere. They laughed, played, learned like other kids. They played up and misbehaved like other kids too. But overall they were happier, and generally more content. When things went awry, it seemed that they were able to get back on track more quickly than many of the other children I knew, and with less fuss.

The difference was not in their behaviour or their needs, but rather the response they received when they acted out. Instead of labelling the child, or even the behaviour, as ‘bad’, or ‘naughty’, or ‘requiring punishment’, it was assumed the child simply had a need that was not being met. The approach taken by teachers and other caretakers was built on the belief that the child was inherently good, that they had an innate ability to learn and grow, and a core desire to function successfully in their society. Most of all, it was understood that each child needed support and nurturing to guide them through their journey towards a free and powerful adulthood. The adults in the school community helped the students by providing them with emotional support, sharing words of wisdom, and by allowing safe but authentic, real-life consequences to result from their undesirable behaviour. Steiner schooling is described as “educating towards freedom.” Over time, these beautiful Steiner students learn how to identify and nurture their own emotional needs, which empowers them to define, express and enlarge their identity with loving, respectful liberty.

If we became more attuned to our inner selves, we might just realise that when our Drama Queen is acting out, there might be more to it than bad behaviour worthy or punishment or rebuke. We don’t need to be so harsh on ourselves. What if we started assuming that the behaviours we demonstrate in our worst moments are not because we are bad people, but they actually show us we have needs that have not been met yet? What if we treated ourselves with compassion, nurturing, and forgiveness when we act out? What if we started learning how to identify and nurture our own emotional needs? This is how we become empowered to define, express and enlarge our own identity with loving, respectful liberty.

We also don’t need to let that Drama Queen take over. Our inner Drama Queen must always be managed. She certainly can be destructive, and if you let her, she will steal the show. The short term pleasure that she brings might feel like freedom. However, when this fleeting feeling has passed, we realise that the Drama Queen is a part of ourselves that has no long term investment into our best interests.

There is a balancing act to perform here, because the Drama Queen needs to be handled with caution, but she should not be written out of the show altogether. She does have value. If we write her a cameo spot amidst the scenes of our life, we will be able to receive the messages she has for us. On our journey towards freedom we need to be able to perceive the unmet needs that motivate our worst moments. Our Drama Queen can show us the hurts that create pain, the insecurities that undermine love, the fears that prevent investment, the weaknesses that cause us to buckle. When our inner Drama Queen has the spotlight, we can see the barriers to our liberty. The performance of the Drama Queen itself is not liberty, but if we take care of her, and give her that cameo moment in the sun, she can illuminate wide open pathways to freedom that come from healing, forgiveness, acceptance and self-love.

Jelly Belly of Power

For as long as I can remember I have been self-conscious about my belly. I am a thick waisted girl whose broad shoulders and solid frame carries me through big days of hard work and tough challenges. On my good days, my physique is best described as athletic, but if I have had a busy few months, or life has seen me fall off the horse of self-care for the umpteenth time, I can get to feeling chunky and heavy set. I was like this even as a teenager. I remember choosing bathing costumes to try to do something with my body that I felt was way out of proportion. My flat chested torso lacked any real waist and was held up by the solid thighs of legs that seem to develop muscle quicker than you can say World Wide Wrestling Federation.

From Bad To Worse

Things on the tummy front really didn’t improve with the arrival of my first child, and then they went from bad to worse after the birth of my second child. My little pot belly stomach became a crinkled scramble of stretch marks that looked like a scrunched up old chip packet. A little while after the birth of my son Zac, I did notice that some form returned to my skin, but the improvement was minimal and was then smashed to smithereens after the birth of my daughter Isabelle. Over the years I have found that nothing changes the condition of my skin. No amount of moisturising, working out, skin treatments, weight loss, or even weight gain 😉 will change the fact that the fibres of my skin were stretched beyond repair when I carried my two beauties. The clock will not be turned back on this one. I will not pass go and I will not collect $200. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

melbourne speaker

Comfy in our own skin is freedom unlike any other

For years it was this way. It was bad when I was my regular weight, but even worse through the years that I was overweight. As you can imagine, I was self-conscious in countless social situations, like swimming, or going out to restaurants, or trying on new clothes. But even worse than this, was that I was embarrassed around my husband. Now, Alec loved my belly and never once suggested otherwise. But I struggled to be confident and to be relaxed with him. I barely let him touch my tummy, and I was instantly ticklish when he did.

Hiding Away My Imperfections

My response to every part of this life controlling fear was to hold my tummy in. Yes, I would try to wear clothes that were flattering to my body shape, and yes, I tried to be diligent with my workouts, and yes, I tried to stay fit and healthy. But the strategy that I employed every single day without fail was to suck in my belly to try to hold it tight and prevent it from showing. I tried to hide the bulge of my pot belly, and tried to make sure that the loose skin didn’t wobble.

More often than not, when I went out, I literally did this till it hurt. I would hold myself upright until my back ached. I would hold my shoulders back until my neck burned. I would suck my tummy in until my ribs screamed in pain. It was hard work, and it made going out just horrible. Getting home was like letting air out of a balloon (minus the uncontrollable zipping all around the room when you let that balloon go 😀 ).

The loss of my husband in May 2014 changed a lot of things in my life. Some of these changes were instant, while others have evolved from that starting point. One of the change journeys I have followed since this gutting loss has been in the way I see myself. One of my first thoughts as I walked in to my kitchen to find he had passed away, was simple: “How am I going to live?”

Our Power Is Constructed In Our Choices

I knew in that instant that everything that happened after that point would be determined by my choices. I had a strange, almost surreal awareness of my own power, and of the importance the steps I would take. This realisation underlined just how vital it was for me to take care of myself. I no longer had Alec to rely on, defer to, or make excuses with. The buck stopped with me.

From the very next day I continued to do my yoga and I made sure that even if I had no appetite, I would eat a morsel of something healthy to nourish myself. Maintaining my personal wellness became my top priority. I was my first resource. As a result, I lost weight. Even after the shock subsided, my healthy habits continued, because they had started from a place of self-love. I landed myself right in the middle of my healthy BMI.

But this reflection is not about my weight loss…

At the start of this year, 2017, I noticed that this old habit of sucking my tummy in was still hanging around. Even though I am thinner than I have been in over a decade, the mindset of being embarrassed about my tummy lingered. Even though I am more confident, and free in myself than I have ever been before, still this mental habit persisted.  Yes, my skin is still crumpled like a chip packet, and yes my pot belly still bulges, and yes, my skin is still so loose that it wobbles. But I am free…

At the start of this year I decided to change my behaviour to align with my freedom. I have chosen that this year will be the first year that I don’t suck my tummy in any more. I have chosen to replace the self-talk of self-consciousness with the self-talk of freedom. I am free of embarrassment, shyness, shame. I am free of being concerned with the judgement or opinion of others. I am free to accept who I am and how I am. My body tells the story of giving birth to the two greatest treasures of my life. This is not something to hide away from the world. I will no longer gloss over my body shape or try to pretend that I am something I am not.

And with this, I am even more free than I was before … Unstoppable!

Be For Balance

Life is busy for all of us. Most days are full of rushing, urgent deadlines and the magic act of trying to keep all of the balls in the air. And then, just when we feel like we might actually pull that magic act off, an unexpected change comes out of the blue. We were doing great until then. The house of cards looked like it was really going to stand up. But with one gust of the winds of change, it all comes crashing down. And we panic. And we get desperate. And we wish that the change had never happened.

Your Life Will Never Be The Same Again

But it did, and this is our lot. For some of us the change may have been the loss of a loved one. For others the change could have been the closure of a business, the end of a relationship, or a move that sent us away from home. Whatever the change looked like for you, it has left you high and dry. Now, you feel like the strategies that used to bring you success simply don’t work in your new situation.

My focus word for this year is ‘Balance’. Last year was a whirlwind where I fulfilled my word ‘Charge’ with everything I could muster. This year it’s time for me to step back and harmonise all of the different parts of myself, and balance all of the things that I have set up. Last year’s driving efforts were a deliberate, strategic response to a change that I had created myself. After the loss of my husband in May 2014 I sold the business I used to share with him in December 2015. This gave me 2016 as the year that was all about me. I wanted to hit the ground running, and spent the entire year ‘Charging’ at my new professional speaking business. A little wander through my website will show you that I got lots done. Now, in 2017 I need to create another change if I am going to make this thing grow.

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Balance comes when we find ourselves in the whirlwind

First Things First

The one core thing that really worked last year was the decision that I made to put myself at the centre of my world. I had never done that before. In fact, being the oldest child from a big family, and spending years as a wife, teacher, mother, business owner, I was fairly adept at putting the needs of others ahead of my own. It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of serving others at the expense of ourselves. Giving away our ability to give. The world around us will always bring demands we are able meet. And we feel that we should. And we do … and it is fine at first, but after a while, we can’t keep going.

This is especially true when the worst happens and the unexpected comes at us out of the blue. It is not that helping others is bad, of course! But many of us are at that point of crisis where the world is upside-down. Things can’t go on like this. In this new world, there is a problem with serving others selflessly. It will come at the cost of our happiness, passion and zest for life, because we will only be able to perform actions of service which spend more in resource than we can afford. In this new normal, these actions are simply empty demonstrations of service that come from a time and place that no longer exists. We need to start operating our lives as an an extension of the investment we have made into genuine care.

Happy Days

Putting ourselves first might seem clunky at first. For some of us it has been foreign to spend time alone, to prioritise our health, to do things simply because they feel good. I have a psychologist friend who says in our society, we don’t have a mental health problem, we have an emotional health problem. It is time for us to start doing things simply because they make us feel happy. Rewarded. Proud. Beautiful. Important. Even sexy. It is time for us to step into the fullness of who we are.

Stop!

This means we need to exchange all of that busy-ness for peace. Work for rest. Striving for acceptance. Obligation for freedom. If you are anything like me, these will feel like an indulgence at first. It will feel like you have swapped giving for taking. Caring for selfishness. Diligence for laziness. But persist. Keep going with it. If you are going to find your way back to the top of your new normal, you need to know who you are in it all. You need to stop Doing what you think your life is. You need to start Being who you are in it.

You need to Be.

You.

All of that doing will leave us out of alignment and off centre, because it doesn’t fit the world we inhabit now. You might have been trying to ‘Do’ your way to happiness for days, weeks, months or even years. No more. All of that effort can be replaced with an acceptance that everything is just as it should be, and you fit at the perfect centre of it all.

Take a slow walk. Prepare your favourite meal – every single night. Paint your toe nails. Get a hair cut. Walk your dog. Catch a movie. Drive somewhere beautiful and simply look. Watch your children play. Go to the beach. Swim. Do yoga. Read. Paint. Sing. Run. Sit still. Hush. Look at your reflection in the mirror. Meditate. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply.  Write! Write! Write!

You have everything you need to enjoy wholeness, fulfilment, balance, peace. You can close your eyes, inhale deeply, let your shoulders drop, and relax your neck. You can have harmony. You can enjoy balance.

Just … Be.