I was listening to a great podcast today – Tim Ferriss interviewing Jason Fried (if you are interested, it’s episode #329 on the Tim Ferriss Show), and whilst many things resonated, one thing in particular really struck a chord.
At one point, Jason Fried comments “..[so] much of life is setting the conditions for good things to happen - not trying to force good things.”
I am a big believer in the power of environment. The environment in which we exist is, in my view, one of the clearest indicators of success.
Take the following examples.
Person ‘A’ is constantly busy. They are always rushing from one thing to another. They are determined to achieve whatever their goals are. They tend to be high achievers, and in their minds, action = progress. They tend to be over-committed, and may or may not be the bottle neck in their business, as they are the ‘only ones’ who can do whatever it is they do.
Person ‘B’ is also a high achiever. They are also determined to achieve their goals. For this person, action also = progress, but in this case they take action in a very thoughtful way, as opposed to being reactive or taking thoughtless action. This person is spending time and effort in setting up their environment for success – partly de-risking, but mainly working out what the perfect conditions are for opportunities to grow.
The biggest difference between these two high achieving action takers, is speed. Their impatience, the need to rush.
Person ‘A’ tries to almost muscle their way through. They will definitely achieve a great deal, because they are determined and smart and will just keep going. The trouble for these guys is that their sheer determination to make things happen, to prove a point, to rush to success – will actually limit the level of success they can achieve. Why? Because they are so busy and overcommitted that they won’t have the time or energy to cultivate and find the opportunities that they really want. Secondly, they are setting themselves up for failure because all their focus is on the achievement of big goals, fast. And this is the achilles heel. It’s not the lofty goal that is the problem. It’s the obsession with how fast you need to get there that will make you come undone, and feel like a ‘failure’. This starts a dangerous spiral – because for this person, when they don’t achieve what they think they should – as fast as they should – then they feel like they have failed. And when you are in this mindset, negativity creeps in. This is the start of an unsustainable ‘boom and bust’ cycle – and this is why success will be limited for this person.
In comparison, person ‘B’ is spending a significant proportion of their time setting themselves up to be successful before then launching into action.
Cultivating the conditions where success can grow takes discipline (at first) and probably a shift in mindset.
We are so used to rushing into things and trying to force or muscle our way to a result. The fast pace we run at actually does us no favours.
So how to create an environment where you can make good things happen?
Well it will be different for all of us, but I can definitely give you the top things that are guaranteed to block your success:
1. Over-committing. When you are busy, all the time, you have no time to recharge, or proactively plan, or even think.
2. Trying to be in control – of everything. I can pretty much guarantee that if I have a client who won’t stop doing things, because they need to control every aspect of their business, they will never reach the next level of success they are shooting for. When your head is full of transactional tasks, you will never have the right mindset or energy to be creative, to problem solve and to be the visionary in your business.
3. Setting big goals and then expecting them to happen overnight. Just to be clear – I LOVE a big goal. In fact a huge part of my business centres around how to set a BIG VISION. But here is the critical piece. You then need to break down that vision or goal, reverse engineer it, so that you have lots and lots of ‘micro visions’ – steps along the way that will build to the ultimate goal.
For example, if you want to do more professional speaking, rather than just making that statement and willing it to happen (and being disappointed when it doesn’t) what are the things that you need to do to make such opportunities possible? Do you have a speaker kit? A compelling list of topics you are known for? A profile in this space? Relationships with speaking agencies? The point is, that to achieve the end goal, there are lots of steps that you need to take, to set up the right environment where opportunities will find you.
4. Being addicted to friction. It’s actually ok for us to make life easier for ourselves. But for some reason, many of us are addicted to making it harder. Not on purpose maybe, but I bet you can think of 5 things that you currently do, or are committed to, that are just a total pain in the butt. And they aren’t life changing. So whether you are travelling 40 minutes to see a personal trainer, or feeling guilty about outsourcing your BAS statements) so instead of spending a few hundred dollars, you spend hours and hours of your time muddling through) – it’s time to STOP. If you want good things to happen, you need to create an environment that has as least friction as possible. The more relaxed and energised you feel, the more creative, focused and strategic you will be.
5. Don’t force it. And this is where you need to let go of your ego. Why is it that you think you should achieve whatever lofty goal you have in mind 5 times quicker than anyone else? Why is it that you think you’re a failure if you don’t get 20 people to your very first event that you have promoted for only 3 weeks? I get it. For some reason we love to set ourselves unreasonable goals. And it definitely isn’t because we think we are better than anyone else! There is just something inside us that keeps trying to demand perfection – instantly. And this is where that boom/bust cycle I was talking about earlier kicks in.
If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged. Be relieved. I would estimate that around 90% of my clients start out in this space, but once they understand how to spend their energy and focus on creating the conditions for good things to happen – rather than just focusing on the good things they want, the change is phenomenal.
If you need help:
• Creating the conditions for success;
• Getting off the merry go round of being overcommitted and ineffective; - or
• Taking your business to the next level -
Get in touch with us!
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