Posts Tagged ‘business’

The cynical self

May 13, 2015
I want to break free ...

I want to break free …

Yesterday we had a full day business meeting with international visitors. The meeting started at 9.00am, and we had a working lunch and concluded at 5.00pm, at which time we left for an upmarket city restaurant for dinner.

Our distributers were trying to impress us. They’d brought their CEO and Chairman. Our management team was trying to appear superior to the distributors, while also trying to impress our boss and scoring points on each other in the process. And our boss was trying to impress the guys from head office, who were constantly looking at their watches. As best I could make out, no one wanted to be here.

About 3.00pm I wanted the music to stop. I wanted to scream ‘Why are we doing this?’, but resorted to injecting a few thought-terminating clichés to wind it up. Didn’t work. The show rolled on.

After a day of platitudes and thinly veiled assurances of improved support and performance, which remain the emotional capital of the business world, with little to no action until the next quarterly meeting where we do this dance again, it was difficult to look forward to the impending meal.

At dinner, everyone was toasting everyone else; too many times to be comfortable. Big smiles, forced conversation, more platitudes. The Chairman made another speech reaffirming his commitment to us and the greater cause. As if it matters. So that led me to wonder: do we? Do we matter?

In our daily lives, questions of personal worth are recurrent, if rarely articulated. We’re so defined by work that our identities without it are in question. Unless we have something else to anchor us, we’re in danger of becoming what we do, not who we are.

We find that ultimately unsatisfying. Because as we get older, time spent at work consumes a proportion of our lives we can rarely afford. We go home tired, eat, sleep and do it all again. Holidays come rarely and when they do we wonder why life can’t always be like this.

I want to rebel. Just a minor revolt. I want to grow my hair long, become a hippy and follow the sun surfing. My wife says I can, for one week in the second half of each year. I can’t do more because of ‘commitments’. Commitments that will get me committed.

Deprived of a clear sense of purpose, apprehensive about the significance of our lives, we’re desperate for reassurance that there is a reason behind what we feel we must do. Are we working for the weekend or living in the now?

I don’t know. I’d rather have it all, and now. So I keep working while I search for the answer. I’ll let you know if I find it.

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Defining your life balance

August 30, 2011

Can you find your balance point?

Having just returned from a holiday I find myself thinking about life balance and how our definition of balance can change depending on our circumstances. For some people life balance simply means personal happiness, for others it will be linked to financial success. For many feeling happy and loved is enough. For most it’s a complex list of factors that shift with experiences and life stages.

Life balance can be expressed in many different ways:

– Work-Life balance

– Personal and emotional fulfilment

– Health and well-being

– Happiness and feeling good about life

– Successful with a certain feeling of achievement

– Contentment and inner peace

– Good relationships with family and friends

– Spiritual peace

How would you define your life balance; what factors are important to you? The dictionary defines balance as both sides being weighted equally, and balance is often discussed in the context of the interplay between a person’s work and home/leisure pursuits. It also applies to the balance between doing things you must do and thinks you like to do, things you do for others and for yourself, and physical and mental equilibrium.

People may feel satisfied with their career and financial status but very unhappy about being overweight, unfit and rarely home. Others may be happy about health and spiritual growth but unhappy about not having regular work or owning a house.

The lucky ones have all the positives and few of the negatives. Equally weighted financial success and health, time with the kids and personal growth. You can have balance too if you know what it is for you, work towards it, and make choices that move you towards your goals.

To start you must understand what you really want. Prepare separate lists of all things you have to do and the ones you want to do. Now prioritise them. Many people do all the ‘have tos’ first and leave no time for the ‘want tos’. Look at how you can mix them: time at work, driving the kids around, time with your partner, time to read and time to work on that project. A decent measure of all the things that are important to you; that’s balance.

Maintaining the mojo, baby!

August 24, 2011

Leaving the everyday behind ...

There’s a dark and frightening place that most self-help gurus won’t tell you about.

It usually creep ups when you’re busy being busy.

It is this: Have you lost your mojo?

It’s when you wake up one morning and realise you really want to do something different but don’t know what. And that your current work feels empty and meaningless. Afterall, you’re not getting any younger and is this all there is?

Sometimes it’s a side effect of success: you’ve strived for years to get to a certain position, you achieve it, and the euphoria wears off. Perhaps you just need a Xanax and a good lie down.

It may be a temporary plateau that needs to be crossed. It may be a signpost to look further and make changes. What was right yesterday may not be right tomorrow.

A good place to start is to examine your life as a whole. Perhaps you have put so much time and effort into work that you’ve let other things slide. It may be time to rekindle friendships, take up that dormant hobby or have a holiday with your family. It can be fun to ‘reboot’ your life!

We become complacent when things are going well. Take stock of your life and see what you’re thankful for: you enjoy your job and the people you work with; you’re paid well and have a certain level of freedom. You’re family life is good and everyone is healthy. There are lots of people that would love that level of ‘normality’.

Now look at what you still would like to achieve both professionally and personally. Set yourself new goals; goals that can benefit you, your family and your business. Be thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved, then go and find out ‘what’s next’. A charity, hobby or helping others may provide the meaning you’re missing and will again provide relevance to your life. There can be great satisfaction in sharing and giving back.

Such activities aren’t a distraction from a productive life, they make a productive life! This is called work-life balance. So go and get your mojo back, baby. Oh yeah!

Making the break

August 12, 2011

Relax and enjoy life ...

Aloha from Waikiki beach Hawaii, a truly beautiful place. I’m sitting on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the beach and feeling totally relaxed and realise this is the first time I’ve felt like this for a very long time.

The tropical paradise setting certainly helps and it’s a very different state to what I’m used to experiencing at home. Of course the week before we left was mayhem; far too many things to get done and can I really leave work in the hands of others for 2 weeks?

By the second day I was relaxed and feeling great, reconnecting with my wife and enjoying the many wonderful activities available. The things I was  concerned about last week have faded into insignificance, at least for the time being. Early morning surfs, relaxing on the beach, reading by the pool and enjoying leisurely meals all adding to the relaxed lifestyle. Quite a contrast to grabbing a sandwich between a seemingly never ending schedule of meetings.

And of course the business keeps running and people are doing what they need to and everything works just fine. For many years when I took a holiday I would constantly be on the phone and email believing this was necessary to keep things going. It’s not. I now leave my phone in the room and spend just a few minutes looking at email in the evening.

Already after 4 days I feel renewed and will return with a fresh attitude, a new perspective and lots of great ideas that come from clearing my mind of the day to day clutter. When was the last time you truly got away from your job or business? Are you willing to let those around you step up and show you what they’re made of? Think of the benefits to your health, life and motivation to allow some down time to recharge?

It’s difficult to make the break but worth it when you do. Last night was a wonderful dinner cruise; today we’re swimming with dolphins, tomorrow a trip to the north shore and a visit to Pearl Harbour. That, and a lot of white space, is all I have in the diary for the week. When will you allow it to be your turn?

The structure of success

July 25, 2011

Go hard or go home!

Success is a continuous journey to better ourselves, overcome our limitations and work towards our goals and aspirations.  There are no shortcuts; the journey requires perseverance, patience and constant work to lead the life we really want.

I’m amazed at the number of people who consistently fail to take action over many years and then wake up one morning and expect it all to happen immediately. They run around looking for the secret to success and expecting it to be easy. It doesn’t work that way.

It’s easy to spend time talking about making changes to your life. It’s good to talk and articulate what you should do, but the real test is whether you’re prepared to take action. Sometimes you just have to start. Try, fail, try again, have a small win, build on it; it will take time, usually years, so don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. The good news is that it’s never too late to start.

Success is not something that you can have just when you feel like it. Success requires discipline and regularity. Discipline is the motivation to continue doing the right thing – after a while it becomes a habit, a way of life, and you enjoy the benefits.

Success is exponential. The more you experience it the more you get. The first requirement is a desire for something better. Even if our goals and dreams are very modest, it is vital to have something to aim for. Try writing down a list of five items you would like to improve and give them priority in your life.

What’s luck got to do with it?

July 21, 2011

 

Good luck or good management?

The choices you make directly influence your results.  Which means success comes down to deciding what you want and then taking focused and consistent action towards it. Luck has very little to with it.

Some people make choices to be CEOs. Others make choices to do what they do. There’s no good or bad luck either way … there’s just living out those choices. Being a CEO or business owner is not for everyone, and that’s fine: people have diverse goals, aspirations and interests.

However, anyone can run into trouble if they set goals they ‘must’ achieve to be successful. The problem is wanting something but not doing anything about it. This is called dreaming, or waiting for success to find you. Often for such people, others’ success must only have been through good luck.

Successful people don’t require luck; they create success through positivity. They do whatever it takes to be in the right place, prepared, at the right time, as often as possible.

Persistence is a key; success doesn’t often present itself on the first try.

But some don’t see all that, they just see the results of others through envious eyes.

Successful people seek out opportunities that align with their goals. Once they find these opportunities they pursue them relentlessly. If opportunities don’t present, successful people create them.  What’s luck got to do with that?

Time and white space

July 12, 2011

white time

In an earlier series of posts we explored why time appears to pass quicker with each year. Time seems to fly by and we feel the pressure to accomplish more in less time.

For many of us, time is a commodity. We talk about using time, buying time, saving time, spending time or wasting time. We’re experiencing a time compression effect that makes us think we’ve less time to do the things we want to do. This contributes to more stress and less space for recreational activities. We have no white space in our lives, with every minute accounted for.

We mistakenly try to save time by eliminating the activities that add meaning to our lives: time spent on hobbies, leisure pursuits and even family. No white space for anything meaningful.

The cult of productivity dominates our work culture.  The philosophy of productivity is to do things we don’t enjoy doing as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to have more time for what we do enjoy. But strangely enough, the upshot is that we actually spend less time enjoying life.

Treating time like a commodity doesn’t create white space, but mindfulness does.

When we’re completely in the now, we have no awareness of time. When you’re doing something, especially something you enjoy, remove the guilt and thoughts of what else you should be doing. Allow yourself this mental time out Be present, with a clear mind and an appreciation of  now, life and the spaces between.

The quest for space

July 4, 2011

 

The quest for white space

Finding available market space in a sea of complexity and clutter is a difficult skill to acquire. We’re programmed to see what’s there, not what isn’t – unlike, say, artists, who are trained to see and appreciate positive and negative space at the same time.

Business people need to think in the same way when looking at their markets. A new market or ‘white’ space is the key to growing your business. Going head to head with competitors and fighting over the same turf is not, unless you have a killer competitive advantage.

In Blue Ocean Strategy the authors refer to this as uncontested market space – finding a segment of the market that is new or different and tailoring an offer to fill it. Dell did it with direct- to-customer computers and Amazon with books.

What offerings are missing from your market? A good idea is to look at the market and see what people are doing and then design a product or service to help them – so-called needs-based innovation. Most businesses start with a product or idea and then hope to find a market for it. Some ideas are brilliant but never sell.

Instead, find out what your customers want and give it to them.

Space for you

June 30, 2011

 

Stop buying the unnecessary, doing the non-essential 

Clear distractions, focus on each moment.

Let go of attachment to doing and having.

Cultivate contentment. Enjoy living with less.

 

 

 

 

What does white space do?

June 28, 2011

white light

White space, like a frame, focuses attention.

If you only have one paragraph to tell a story, every word in that paragraph becomes more significant. The white space distills and concentrates the power of the words.

White space, like silence, allows us to absorb what’s being said.

Without silence, you cannot hear yourself. Given the pace of life, we need time to relax – time for the mind to settle and enter a reflective state. White space provides a meditative silence which allows us to understand our lives fully.

Whitespace helps create rhythm.

Writers know this. They arrange words into sentences and paragraphs very carefully, knowing where they fall on the page affects how the reader interprets their meaning.

Effective use of white space can make images more potent and words more evocative. Finding the white space in life helps us focus on where we are.  And keeps us moving forward to find what’s next.

This is the benefit of finding our personal space. We learn to understand what we want, based on a realistic appraisal of where we’ve been. With more space and awareness, we find new stories to tell, and re imagine our lives in fresh ways.