Someone starts a business that serves people well. It grows. And grows. The business owner is working faster and faster, and longer and longer hours. Pretty soon, she forgets why she started the business in the first place. The pleasure is gone. The fulfillment is missing. Maybe she tries to hire a few folks to help, and it doesn’t go as planned. She starts to give up, or just keeps trying to work faster, more, better.
This is a very familiar scenario to most business owners.
A key focus at this stage of business is to learn to replicate yourself—or as potential clients who called me said “Help! I need to clone myself.”
The challenge is that you’ve learned to do what you do over time. It’s natural to you, even obvious and bit automatic. You may forget that it wasn’t when you started out.
So how do you develop others? You can’t inject them with your experience from the last 5 years. A lot of it you don’t realize you have inside of you.
That’s where coaching and talking with others come in. You need to extricate the gold out of you so it can be replicated. You need to learn to produce results through others vs. doing it all yourself. It’s a tough shift for many business owners. How do you keep a pulse on their business and let go of some of what you’re doing and tactical stuff? How do you create a plan to develop others that is chunked down, clear, specific, and replicable over time AND where the employee feels supported, appreciated, and not overwhelmed while they learn? The plan also needs to involve a lot of dialogue, examples and practice with employees.
That takes time, darn it, something you don’t have a lot of. But every minute you invest here will free up hours for you later, if you do this well.
This is one of my favorite processes to engage in with business owners. They start to own their value and what they’ve accomplished, which helps them both increase their prices while also developing others and their employees’ careers. The business grows and gets past the bottleneck: YOU. It becomes fulfilling and exciting again as you can be more creative and strategic.
If you’d like to talk about how to take your business to the next level and remove the obstacles that are getting in the way of growth, schedule a strategy session with me here.
Like my clients who are approaching their fifties and after, I find myself drawn to contribute all I've learned over my career to my field.
The psychologist Erikson points to this in his theory about psychosocial development. He talks about the stages of care (40-59) and wisdom (60 and above) -- and the desire to contribute back to others in these stages.
It's not infrequently I hear horror stories about experiences with coaches. I believe this is a conversation that is important to have for both coaches and clients.
Today I published this article on Medium which you can read it here. And follow me on Medium if you like. I'm just starting this conversation. I have a lot to say about it!
I heard about Mud Season before coming to Maine. Through my first winter on the East Coast, I felt like I've been experiencing Mud Season every other week or so. But now, for real, a small waterfall begins at the top of my path to my house that funnels into a pond at the foot of my front steps. The rocks I put in as stepping stones are now submerged. Hmmm.
I left that shopping cart out in the yard a couple of months ago and it's been frozen to the ground ever since.
I love little challenges and learning new things.
Recently I've been learning about podcasts and have been on a couple. Here's one where I talk about my journey as a business owner [Listen here].
Something else I have learned about and loved for 30 years is sales. I know, weird, right? I've always told clients that sales is the best personal development course there is. There are your money issues, relationship issues, power issues, confidence issues and more -- all wrapped up into one great little subject!
I'd love to share what I've learned about sales over my career with other coaches and consultants. I'm thinking of offering a Sales Beta Group for Coaches to help others grow their businesses through creating strong relationships and high value with clients. If you are a coach or know of any, I've created a short survey to see if this offer is of interest. I'd appreciate it if you'd share with others. Participate in the survey here.
Thanks for helping me market my services from my muddy [and beautiful] little island.
When I arrived on Peaks Island, Maine last spring and went to Hannigan's grocery store [a glorified 7-11, I thought, in my Portland, Oregon foodie snobbery], I laughed aloud at the tagline on their truck:
I snorted to myself, "I beg to differ."
But last week, when the wind chill of 17º below, I was setting out to go to my knitting meet-up and grocery shop in town. I walked half a block and decided to go to Hannigan's instead-- then back home where I had heat and a good book.
When I saw that tagline on the truck outside the market, I said to myself . . . "Damn straight."
Our perspective can change a situation in a freezing rain flash.
And that perspective is everything. You can change a situation just by how you look at it, your interpretation or opinion.
Alas, it's hard to look at things differently if we're just listening to our thoughts in our own head.
I've noticed when clients reach out for help, they often wait too long before they do so. I ran that idea by a couple consulting clients this week, and they had seen the same thing in their industry. We tend to be so independent, thinking "I can solve this!' If people had reached out sooner, they would have created a new approach to a situation that they hadn't thought of before. They might not have become quite as frustrated for as long or the situation might not have become worse. Progress would be faster.
If you find yourself trying to change a situation but getting frustrated instead, please schedule some time here. We often need an outside perspective to approach a situation in a new way, creating different results.
Walking to the ferry this morning, the man who owns the nursery on the island said "Hi, Kerry." I replied, "Wow, you're good at names!" He said, "I try."
Coach that I am I think..."He doesn't just try. He does it!"
After a conversation with a client last week when she said she was "trying" to do something that she actually was doing, she sent this picture:
We often create our experience with our language and what we say, but we don't notice what we're saying. We might say "It's going to be a rough week" and voila -- we create it! Our language is more powerful than we realize. It's worth being aware of what we are saying both to ourselves in our heads and aloud to others.
I saw a weather forecast for Maine that called for "thumping snow" last Sunday. I'm glad I was able to do more than try to shovel!
We looked at integrity as the First Secret Ingredient for an Innovative Company Culture. If you're engaged in an active practice of looking to see how your actions line up with your commitments, you're on the right track!
But how does that create an innovative culture?
One book I read had some great examples:
"When we say our people matter but we don’t actually care for them, it can shatter trust and create a culture of paranoia, cynicism, and self-interest."
It's hard to be innovative when we're in that kind of culture! In one example from the book, Bob Chapman was walking by a locked inventory cage which he did daily so it was invisible to him. Because the company had a principle about trusting their employees, he thought "How is this locked inventory cage consistent with our value of trusting our employees?" [That is often the case with inconsistencies with our values. They're so accepted and normal to us; we're not looking at our environment with fresh eyes. But he saw it that day in a new light by looking from the company values].
He had the inventory cage unlocked on the spot.
That's integrity and being in an inquiry about your values. It's continually asking yourself, "Where are we in integrity and where are we off track?' It is also a powerful communication to others in the organization demonstrating you're serious about your mission and values, and you'll make the hard decisions to get aligned even when it's inconvenient.
We all know that actions speak louder than words. This is how you give your mission and values power to impact people's engagement and actions in your organization.
If you'd like to learn to have your company mission live in your organization, please schedule some time here. Your mission and values are critical to your business success, talent retention, employee satisfaction and customer retention. You can leverage them to create breakthrough innovation in your company.
At the bottom of an email or in a framed statement on a conference room wall, companies often have their mission statement and values. Such statements might read:
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, or moral uprightness. It is a personal choice to hold one's self to consistent standards. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity]
I think the second part of this definition is the most critical: It is a personal choice to hold one's self to consistent standards. And taking it a step further -- Do our actions line up with our commitments or what we profess our commitments to be?
Integrity is often related to as a moral principle i.e. you're good if you have integrity and bad if you don't. Or you're right if you do what you say you'll do, and wrong or bad if you don't. But human beings are imperfect by nature. No one has 100% integrity all the time. It's just not possible.
So how do we have our professed mission and values mean anything or how do we have them be a living conversation in the organization?
First of all, it is important that they are in writing.
Once you've written them, this is where you want to look:
How do our actions, practices and behaviors line up with these principles?
This needs to be a daily practice and not an after-thought once you've finished your to-do list.
Some suggestions how to approach this:
Pick one principle a week with your staff and bring examples of where you fulfilled on that and where you fell short. [Remember that doesn't mean you're good if you fulfilled on it and a bad person if you didn't]. You just want examples. You want everyone looking for examples, consistencies and inconsistencies. This has the principle begin to be real and come alive in the organization. It starts to be a principle that shapes action vs. a static, pat phrase. But that only happens with a dialogue about it, an on-going dialogue. Tell one on yourself as a leader. Give an example of where your actions are inconsistent with your principles. That creates safety and vulnerability for everyone else to do the same. It demonstrates that you're human, too. It validates that we're all learning to be better people and employees together.
If you'd like to learn how to better have your company mission live across all parts of your organization, please schedule some time here. Your mission, principles and values are critical to your business success, talent hiring and retention, employee satisfaction and customer fulfillment. If you can learn to leverage them and have them live in your organization, the results will surprise you [in a good way!]
To your success and fulfillment,
One theme I notice in my conversations with my clients is the abundance of negative self talk we can all engage in.
As a solo business owner, I notice for myself that I may miss what I've accomplished and notice what I haven't. I'm on a current learning curve on multiple dimensions of my life: moving across the country, trying to figure out East Coast weather and Nor'Easters [as they say here: "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes], and going all virtual in my client work to name a few. The virtual part is a big change for me that I hadn't anticipated how significant it would be. I like being around people!!!! So there's learning for me about getting out of my house, where to engage in a new community and seeing what gives me my people fix.
Sometimes I blow it . . . "That was WAY too long in my house by myself!' Then I adjust and take some different actions. Did I mention living on an island without a car??? [and that it's a bit nippy outside?]
Bringing compassion to ourselves as we learn really helps -- and most of us aren't very proficient at that.
Establishing a practice to notice what we're accomplishing is important -- as is not judging yourself when something doesn't happen the way we thought it should. Talking with others helps, too -- a coach, a colleague, or a friend.
Often business owners want to replicate themselves, grow their business and produce more results in the business through others vs. doing it all themselves. But they can be challenged in seeing and owning the gold inside of them. What they do and how they think is so natural and normal to them that they think everyone else thinks like they do, and are surprised when they don't. They don't know how to pass on that knowledge and awareness to others.
But if you can't articulate it, your employees or staff won't read your mind and won't be able to support you in the way you're hoping.
I thought this article had some great suggestions along these lines:
If you'd like to better acknowledge and own your accomplishments and those of others' to grow your business, please schedule some time here. This time of year is a perfect time to look back over the year to mine for the gold.
I'm in love with paint right now.
My goals aren't very lofty when it comes to painting this cottage right now: make it look better.
This isn't about the perfect color selection. And it's not about perfect edges or complete uniform coverage. Just let's get it passable and looking not gross. So I can have visitors. And my house guests aren't looking for the emergency exit.
Someone else going to Ace Hardware might be an interior designer finding the perfect color for a client, or a home owner remodeling a dream kitchen, or a person wanting to spice up a room. We all have different goals and intentions when we are looking to buy something.
Every customer, client, colleague or employee has different goal(s) or intention(s) when they talk with you.
The questions is: Do you listen long enough to others to know what that intention or goal is? Do you treat people as individuals with a variety of aspirations?
Everyone is motivated by different things.
Listening for people's concerns, without judgement, can:
To your success,
Do you have a picture or card that you've carried around with you for years because of the meaning it carries for you? You may have taped or pinned it up in different locations even though it's creased or stained with coffee.
I got rid of a heckuva lot of possessions before moving across the United States, but I kept this:
Some people call it vocation, others your life's purpose. Whatever it's called, a thread runs through your career -- in both the positive experiences and the challenging ones. Where are you called to contribute your best skills and talents? Here are some things I've noticed about exploring our calling:
If you'd like to talk with me about your calling and your fulfillment in your career, please schedule some time here.
To your success,