One of my favourite films is ‘A Few Good Men’ set in the US military. Tom Cruise, a lawyer, asks a soldier, “How do you know where to go for meals; it’s not in the manual?” “Well," the soldier replies, “I guess I just follow the crowd at chow time.”
When you start out in business and recognise the need for a mentor it is so easy to just follow the crowd at chow time. With so much noise out there on social media it’s easy to be dazzled by someone’s success or lifestyle. This person’s really successful, they have loads of followers they must be the one. They also charge alot of money and you pay for what you get, right? Well, not always.
It took me a while to find the right mentor. Some of the people I came across I would describe as Peacocks, they seemed bright and shiny but over time there wasn’t a whole lot of substance or rapport. I soaked up everything they said, feeling inadequate at times and starting to judge myself in ways I wouldn’t have done normally. I realised I was judging myself by what was important to them, not me, so no wonder I never felt comfortable. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, if that makes sense.
In time I realised that before I looked for a mentor I had to first understand myself:
So the gurus extolling the virtues of a 60 hour week, of putting relationships on hold or making me feel guilty that I wasn’t posting live at 4am and doing webinars at 8pm, that I hadn’t run a marathon before breakfast, were not for me. And that’s not to knock them; these things worked for them, their values, their lifestyle and aspirations. They just weren’t for me.
I knew I wanted a life supported by my business and a business I was passionate about. I wanted an enriched life but which didn’t entail a luxury yacht! I defined my values and my aspirations and the way I wanted to do business. Then I took a good look at my business; where I was and where I wanted to be and honed in on aspects of the business where I could do with another pair of eyes.
I decided I needed to look past the Peacocks and look for the Owls for their wisdom and the Eagles to inspire me to soar. People who had credibility and influence. People who’d had triumphs and disasters. People who would inspire me and challenge me, help me see things differently and give me a boot up the backside if needed. People who believed in me and wanted me to succeed and who weren’t on some ego trip or selling mission. Most importantly, people whose values aligned with mine.
And now having worked with some great mentors over the years I have learned it’s still important to process what’s said. To have a filter, not to follow blindly. To ask regularly, ‘Is this what I need right now. Does this fit with my values and aspirations?’ Know yourself and be true to yourself whilst seeking the wisdom of others.
Do one thing: If you have a mentor ask yourself these questions:
If you’re in business and haven’t yet got a mentor I would definitely recommend it. I hope this blog proves useful in your search.
Thanks for reading.
So, you have a big Vision that gives you goosebumps and it’s plastered on your wall in huge letters. You’ve started to plan with your team about how together you’ll make that Vision a reality. And you’re all buzzing about the future and cracking on. Great stuff! I can feel the energy from here.
Now, all that’s missing is an effective Personal Management System. Not the sexiest title I’ve come across but even the most inspiring vision, and the smartest of plans will be wasted if you don't have the means to keep yourself on track.
A Personal Management System
Your daily routine is the cornerstone of your personal management system, and should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your productivity, and move you closer to your Vision.
1. Get into the habit of planning your day the evening before (and your week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day, you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s frog* will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running.
2. Chunk your work into 90 minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and FOCUS is the key word - don’t multi-task - if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full 90 minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it within the 90.
3. Peak Practice - Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak - for me it’s first thing in the morning - and use that 90 minutes to ‘eat your frog’ - *do the thing that you don't necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done.
Just get focused and eat the damn frog! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
4. Set yourself mini deadlines - always good for those of us who like a bit of last minute pressure - make them ‘drop-dead’-lines too! Absolute must delivers! Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline.
5. Switch Off. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too - refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this, and have made breaks long and short, a habit they will always keep.
6. Daily Exercise. Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body, include taking at least 30 minutes exercise a day - even if it’s just a walk down the road and back - and drinking plenty of water - two litres is the recommended amount isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and setting you up for a productive afternoon.
For budding entrepreneurs, there are three other personal management essentials:
A Personal Management System takes discipline and time to develop, but when you learn to manage yourself, the business will be a piece of cake!
Do one thing: look back over today/yesterday. Did your work take you towards your Vision? Did you have frog for breakfast? If not, look to adopt these good habits and improve your routines.
For more information on how MPL can help you, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
'If you don't know where you’re going, you'll end up someplace else.' -Yogi Berra
My parents as they got older, often got into their car without knowing where they were going exactly. Okay, they knew roughly they were heading for - the Lakes or North Yorkshire or Northumberland but their precise destination or their route? Not really. ‘I wonder where that road goes?’ ‘Do you know, I don’t think we’ve ever gone that way, shall we see what’s it like?’ It was often a magical mystery tour and the start of many an adventure!
But can you imagine trying to run a business like that? You’ve got an idea and you just set off and see where the wind takes you. This might sound far-fetched but you would be surprised how may business owners don’t have a true vision for their business or a plan for how to get there. There are also those who plan their business but don’t factor in their life.
Just stop and think for a minute of the planning you do for a long drive:
You do all this planning for a pretty straightforward car journey. Why would you not put the same effort into planning your business journey?
‘If you want to scale, grow or sell your business, you need to plan.’
It all has to start with you, and what you want for your life!
Whilst working my way through my career in the world of big business, we talked about personal development, and how we could become better at our role within the business or progress to the next level. But what we wanted out of life or what we saw as our ideal future never really came up. Maybe we were all too young, too focused on progression, to recognise that you only get one crack at life, or that, if you plan for it, you can have both - a happy, successful life and a successful business.
I do understand why people say they don’t want to plan their life though. As with any plan, you have to recognise that things happen, things change. We change as we grow and develop. It goes without saying that every successful plan needs to be adjusted and tweaked when the opportunities, or the challenges come.
It’s been a real eye-opener with clients at times when we explore their ‘Vision and Values.’ It’s that light-bulb moment when someone realises that life and business plans are inexorably linked. When they look ahead and say ‘I want great relationships with my kids in the future,’ but realise that leaving the house when their children are asleep and returning when they’ve gone to bed isn’t going to build that bond.
We get to asking: ‘If this is what I want in life, how will my business support and enrich this? Can I find better ways of working so I’m at home for bedtime stories three nights a week, that Sundays always a day off for family?’ For example.
Without that Vision, that wider focus, you’ll start planning for a future you may not want. So put the time in and really drill down to what that is. There’s no right answer, it’s down to you. So I recommend:
3 essentials for Personal Planning
Do one thing: Take some time to answer these crucial questions:
Have a great week and thanks for reading.
Our Systems4Scale Bootcamp on 10&11th October 2018 starts with your Vision and Values. So if this blog resonates with you why not sign up? Here’s a link to our brochure
I know it’s the onset of Autumn and downtime for nature but for me September is my business springboard. It’s a great month for planning.
It always just feels so right, and just this morning I was reminding myself why.
For some, January may seem like the obvious choice, the beginning of a new calendar year with new year’s resolutions, and a full twelve months stretching out ahead of you.
The downside is that you’re coming out of the Christmas holiday period, possibly still feeling bloated and hungover, certainly feeling that little bit poorer, and maybe you still have the kids off school – you’re probably already half way through January before you can even think about fresh plans.
It’s a foggy time of year too – the weather’s awful, usually dank and dull, and business-wise January and February may be slow, so there’s really not much to get you energised and excited enough to start planning.
April is the next obvious choice with spring in the air and new beginnings.
But April is all about tax and getting your finances sorted – personal tax, business tax. It’s all very numbers oriented, which is great, if you’re building your plans entirely around numbers, but not if you’re looking at the other crucial areas of your business, like people, products, promotions. It’s a busy time for a lot of businesses, so you’re not necessarily in the right head space to plan.
June, you’re then going into the holidays. You’ve got July and August round the corner, and the challenges of the long school break, your team taking their holidays, maintaining a healthy cash flow etc.
September on the other hand, is the perfect time to plan.
With September comes excitement!
Think about it.
It’s the start of a new school year, the start of a new term, stepping up to the next year group – I don’t have children but I do still remember going to school and looking forward to what the next year would bring.
You’re often just back from your own holiday away from the business, you’ve had quality time with family and friends, you’re feeling refreshed and re-energised – you’ve had time to think, to take stock. Maybe you’ve just finished reading, ‘Simple Logical Repeatable’ on the beach and you’re bursting with ideas that you’re dying to put into practice :)
You’ve got three meaty months ahead of you – September, October, November. Even if you only finish your plans mid September, you’ve still got three full months to mid December before the whole ‘I haven’t started my Christmas shopping’ panic kicks in.
For me it is the perfect month to plan.
So here we are heading into September – time to get preparing. Have you jotted down all those ideas you had whirring while you were on holiday? Have you gone from beer-mat to mind-map, expanding on those initial thoughts? So you’ll be ready to turn them into goals with deadlines? Are you going to make them happen?
Or have you been sucked back into the day to day, reacting to your mobile phone, slave to your inbox?
Are you going to be looking back in another twelve months wondering where the year went, and what happened to everything you were going to achieve?
Do one thing: Take back control of your life!
Download our How To Mind-map for some great advice on getting those initial thoughts down onto paper - see below.
Take one day away from your business this September – yes you can if it’s important enough to you – and plan out the next twelve months.
Or, if you feel that you’ve just been repeating the same year after year in the same Groundhog day fashion, join us for a two day bootcamp and learn how to evolve from startup mode.
“The Systems4Scale Bootcamp was invaluable to our business in being able to take key team members out of the office for 2 whole days to work on the business instead of in it. I've been working on this for a while (not always successfully), but taking team members along too made this shift a lot easier for all of us.
Marianne makes everything clear and simple. She encouraged and supported us to think differently and help us to implement the systems she was teaching. I felt like she was on my team with us.
We gained so much from the two days - a vision of where we are going, excitement over it, ability to implement systems that will help us get there and make everyone's life easier.
We've implemented several areas which have had great benefit and are already ahead of our 1 year goals! Thanks Marianne!”
Jennifer Page (no relation!) - Business Owner, Affinity Gymnastics
Thanks for reading. Have a great week
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)