Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Managing the Highs is Important for Entrepreneurs

Last year I hit a low.  I had many months of lows.  I'd experienced burn-out three years earlier and over the next three years had two international moves, a marriage, a baby, sickness in the family, personal health issues, family relationship challenges, unemployment, and a new business.  Needless to say, I didn't really have time to deal with burn-out.  Then, last year, my business transitioned from HR consulting to mindful leadership and wellness, and what one would expect to be an exciting journey turned into some of the lowest moments of my life - but they contained some of the most valuable lessons.

My mind, body, and spirit just would not allow me to take any more and I literally crashed. Strangely, I was in a very happy place in life - life was truly wonderful in all the important ways. Yet, I was struggling with getting out of bed and managing my day to day roles as a mom, wife, and business owner.  I beat myself up about not being in a 'happy place' when life was so good. Underneath it all, I was actually happy and grateful for such amazing love in my life.  I just couldn't muster up the energy to behave that way consistently.  I wanted so badly to have a 'productive' day.  I saw other business owners passing me by as my business stalled.  I observed others being happy and successful and wished I could be in that place.  I decided I had to remove myself from social situations because they made me feel worse - and I stopped almost all professional networking and declined nearly all socials.

My personal wellness journey then began, and it was necessary for business success.

Thankfully, I have progressed to a wonderful place and have begun to network again.  Business is increasing - you really do attract what you feel and what you can handle at that time.  I have moments of floating on a high again, and I'm realizing just how important it is to manage your highs both in business and life.

Through these experiences, I learned two key things:

1) It is critical to manage your highs if you want to be successful in business.

Yes, I said 'highs'.  As my energy floated around a 1-2 out of 10, it felt like everyone around me was a 12.  Interestingly, I began to observe how unmanaged some of these highs were and how distracted and absent some of these people were from the present.  Their way of being was centred around their successes and even challenges - it was self-centred.  I was honoured to be part of their journey and that they wanted to share their celebrations with me.  However, when I needed to have their attention, they were focused on their own successes and achievements and their own evolving journey.

I wondered... "Was I like that when I was on a professional high in the past?"  And I decided that, yes, I was.  But I didn't want to be like it in the future.

I knew I had to help other entrepreneurs not be like it too - because we don't know what we don't know, and an entrepreneur can't get away with behaving on this level of self-importance and be successful on a long-term basis.  An entrepreneur puts her/himself out there and needs to be able to   accept her/his imperfections and actually feel grateful when others point them out so you can then improve on them.  Perfection does not mean having no flaws.  It means not being offended when someone points out yours.

Everyone has highs and lows in life and business.  Imagine peaking in your business.... it's a celebratory time.  But there will always be people around you that are on a low or struggling in some way.  They may celebrate with you, but they may need something else from you.  Imagine if those people were your employees or your customers or your suppliers?  How do you think the relationship would evolve if they needed your attention and presence, yet you were on a high that took all of your energy to that place?

Now, how do you think the relationship would evolve if you were present with these people, regardless of where you are and what you are experiencing?  When they need you, they have your attention.

Who becomes the loyal employee that recruits other great employees?  Who becomes the cheerleader customer?  Who is the supplier that works with you to meet deadlines rather than giving excuses for not meeting them?  Yeah... it's the one who gets your attention.

And, remember, you will drop into a low again.  The highs do not last forever.  It is the ability to not cling onto the highs and accept the lows that brings true happiness in life and success in business.

Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting.  You are leader.  You are confidante.  You are representative in your industry.  You are sales person.  You are connector.  You are problem solver. You are 'financer'.  You assume the risk and give away authority.  Not to mention, and more importantly, you are partner/spouse, child, parent, and friend.  Your presence is required - all the time.

The only way to not burn-out is to manage it all - the lows AND the highs.

2) The answer is here.  Now.

It is common knowledge that we must manage our lows.  I use mindfulness strategies to help clients manage them and build focus, awareness, and whole wellness.  However, it is not as common to manage the highs.  We are encouraged to celebrate the highs.  The poised leader manages his or her highs while celebrating them.  The poised leader does not even need the so-called highs in order to feel successful.

The answer for not burning out from the extremes is being in the present moment.  Regardless of where you are in business, when you are sitting across from an employee discussing a challenge or success they are having, making that the most important thing in your life right now (because it is the only thing at that moment) is how you prevent the crash.  You manage it all by managing the only thing you can - the moment.

This doesn't mean you don't celebrate and share your successes with others.

When you are on your next high, enjoy that moment.  Enjoy it for everything it is.  And then move into the next moment.  When the high is over - the good news has been told, the contract has been awarded, the financing has come through - it no longer exists.  Wishing the feeling could last forever or chasing the next high will not make you happy or any more successful.  The great high experienced is no more successful than the next moment when you are taking out the trash.

And that is the answer.  Everything... every moment... is where success lies... when you don't cling to an experience as being more or less successful or important than the previous one and you don't chase after another experience in order to feel more successful.

Simple.  But not easy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why the Law of Attraction is Important for Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders

I watched 'The Secret' when it first came out in 2006 and read the book as soon as it was released.  Ironically, the video I watched was a burned copy of the original.  Someone gave it to me before I knew what it was about.  Once I watched it, I was worried that the fact I watched a free, burned copy of the video meant I was going to attract people and situations to my life that did not value me, used me, or some other negative consequences would come my way.

Because the law of attraction is all about attracting into your life what you put out, right?

Well, over the years I have learned so much more about this stuff.  I'm not an expert on this topic, but, I know it can help entrepreneurs and business leaders.

There is a phenomenal amount of research being done on our thoughts and the impact of our thoughts on our beliefs and actions.  We know that positive thoughts attract positive beliefs and positive behaviours.  We also know that when we behave in certain ways, we attract similar people and situations to our lives.

All that seems true to date, and much of it is scientifically proven.

However, what is not yet known is how to control the original thought that enters our minds.  I have not read any research to date that states we can control this.  The Dalai Lama himself believes it is impossible to stop a thought or emotion from arising.  But what the Dalai Lama and other experts know is that we can control what we do with that thought or emotion once it arises.

So, let's get it straight.  You are not going to fail in business when you have a fear or negative thought about success.

One of the ways I have learned to deal with negativity or stress is to not feel bad about feeling bad.  That simply leads to more stress.  Many mindful leaders know about law of attraction, so they feel bad about feeling bad... because then they believe they will attract failure and negativity... and this simply exacerbates the negative feelings.  We are human and will feel bad sometimes.  We will have negative thoughts and emotions.  Period.

Being mindful and attracting the business and life you want does not mean you are free from negative thought and emotion.  However, to be successful in business, the law of attraction can be very useful.

I help my clients to shift perspective into more positive, healthier, and more motivational mindsets. It's not because I think their thoughts alone are going to change their businesses to be more successful.  And it's not because I believe the shifts will make them an overnight success.  It is because of what happens after the shifting occurs.

Here are three ways the law of attraction can help entrepreneurs and business leaders:

1. Perception

If you look at any successful entrepreneur or leader, you will see that their perception of things is positive, solution-oriented, and one of possibility.  Even when a disaster happens, they see it as a learning experience or they springboard off of it for a greater success.  Their perception allows them to see opportunities for success more clearly.  They will have just as many (or more) failures.  They will feel bad about them.  But they will perceive them differently, which will make them behave differently.  And THAT is what makes them successful.

2. Choice

When we think about failure or something negative, we are naturally inclined to seek out situations to prove what we think.  However, when we think about success, we seek out situations that may bring success.  We choose differently.  Whatever it is, we are motivated to prove ourselves right.  So as an entrepreneur or business leader, if we think a project or venture will fail, we will naturally seek out proof that it will fail... and it probably will.  So thinking of success will motivate us to choose differently - to seek out proof that it will succeed.  It doesn't mean it always will, but because you are choosing actions and making decisions to prove success, it increases the chances.

3. Awareness 

Have you ever thought about finding a parking spot in an area where it's near impossible, and there was one there - right in front of the building you were going to?  Some call this the law of attraction and feel that because they thought of it, it appeared.  That, to me, is magic.  What I think is more likely is the fact that you thought of it, therefore it was in your awareness, and when one was available, you noticed it.  You also noticed that it was near the building you were going to.  When something is put into our mind, we begin to notice it more and more.  For an entrepreneur or business leader, this can be very useful.  There are an unlimited number of opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered and created.  When an entrepreneur/leader thinks about opportunities and possibilities, they begin to appear.  It is not that they weren't there before... it is more about noticing them.  If you are not allowing positive, creative, possibility thoughts into your mind, these opportunities will go unnoticed.  Or if you are ruminating on thoughts about there not being any opportunities, well, there won't be any opportunities.

Of course, it is all up to you.  That is what is so great about all of this stuff... it is completely your choice.