I've been working with right brained entrepreneurs for the past 15 years, and nearly every single one of them stays stuck in a pattern of overwhelm. Yet, most of them have no idea why they stay overwhelmed. It really comes down to habits. Yes, staying overwhelmed is a habit. These habits stem from the way we process information and our belief systems.
Because right brainers can handle more complexity than left brainers, we tend to make things more complex than they really are. One of the ways we do that is by saying YES to new ideas or tasks or action items without evaluating how much time and effort it will take to complete them. (Hint: A left brainer would never do this.)
To make things even more complex, we don't evaluate how much we have on our plate before we say yes to those new ideas, tasks, or action items. This compounds the problem.
All that is built on top of our belief systems.
The belief patterns most right brain executives and entrepreneurs have that contribute to their chronic overwhelm are:I can do more than most people.
I can do more than is humanly possible.
I’m smart enough that I ought to be able to figure all this out.
I can’t find good people to do the work I need them to do.
I can’t afford the help I need.
It’s important to stay busy.
I can do things faster and better than other people can.
If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.
If I want it done right I have to do it myself.
I’m uncomfortable saying No.
We wear many of these beliefs as badges of honor. We take pride in our ability to do more than most people can. However, this may work extremely well when you are bootstrapping a business or in startup mode, but it severely limits our ability to grow and expand when we can no longer do it all. (I've discovered a shamanic energy medicine technique that actually changes those belief patterns and I'll demonstrate it on a free webinar on October 10th - see below!)
We become so accustomed to stress that most of us think overwhelm is a natural and normal state. Or even if we don’t think it’s natural and normal, we think it is a necessary part of being in business.
But every right brain executive and entrepreneur I talk with started their business so they could enjoy freedom. Overwhelm is a trap. It is the opposite of freedom.
Overwhelm is a signal that we are stressed. And when we are stressed it’s limits our field of vision. It prevents us from being strategic, even though we think we are. Eventually it prevents us from remaining competitive and relevant, which leads us to work even harder, resulting in becoming even more overwhelmed. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you expect to be overwhelmed as a business owner, you are setting up yourself and your business for failure.
If you want to learn what to do about this, please attend the teleclass on Thursday, October 10th at noon PT/3pm ET.The class will be approximately 75 minutes long.
If you're a right brain entrepreneur or executive, the odds are stacked against you. In most Western cultures, business is structured as a left-brain activity. But that doesn't mean you can't stand out and be wildly successful. In fact, it means it's easier for you to stand out...and hence be wildly successful. In fact, what business desperately needs right now are the unique gifts you bring to the table as a right brain entrepreneur.
BUT, it means you have to overcome these 4 roadblocks to stand out, be valued, and contribute effectively.
Roadblock #1: Assuming Too Much Responsibility
Rather than being a jack of all trades, spreading yourself too thin and taking on too much responsibility, you must recognize and monetize your gifts - the things that are easy, natural, effortless for you...the things that you are good at and love doing.
Most right brainers I work with have no idea what their gifts are, so they spend most of their time doing things that are more difficult, take more effort, and are dramatically less rewarding, not to mention depleting and exhausting.
Here's my rule of thumb: If you spend a lot of time worn out, stressed, and frustrated, you aren't monetizing your gifts.
Here's what it looks like when you do monetize your gifts:
You're excited and really enjoy your work.
Your work is extremely high quality.
And others are impressed by and appreciate your work.
Roadblock #2: Starting Too Many Things...and Finishing Few
Right brainers are full of ideas. We can make connections between concepts that others cannot, use our imaginations to create possibilities, paint the picture for others to follow, and think extraordinarily fast on our feet.
People love us for that.
But most right brainers also have a very long list of unfinished projects because we usually have way too many things going at one time. Many of us have what's called "the shiny object syndrome" where we get seduced by new ideas or possibilities, and we get bored with the details and the amount of effort and time it takes to complete things. If we're leading other people, it's often confusing and disheartening when we don't follow through and complete the things we start.
What we have to realize is we are GREAT at starting things, but we are not so good at finishing them ourselves.
Most right brainers I work with think they are good at almost everything, but when pressed to finish projects or ideas, they try harder and harder, get frustrated, their to do lists grow longer and longer, they get stressed out, and they think there's something wrong with them but they have no idea what.
The key to finishing lots of things? Partner with finishers. Here's what it looks like when you partner with finishers:
Your list of unfinished projects becomes complete.
Your to do list shrinks (over time).
The world gets to finally see and appreciate your ideas, which can generate significantly more revenue and satisfaction for you.
The added bonus is that you begin to trust yourself more, your self esteem improves, and you have proof your ideas are actually valid.
To overcome this roadblock we must partner with people who are great at finishing things, and empower them to do so. What's important to realize is that the part of our brain that is good at starting things (one of our gifts) is not good at finishing things. So don't spend a lot of time, money, effort, and resources trying to become good at finishing things because our brains and our habits will rarely allow us to do so proficiently.
Roadblock #3: Hiring for Potential vs. Hiring for Proof of Competence
As right brainers, we crave respect. Since that's our perspective, we assume others also crave respect - and we want to give it to them way too early. Because of this we often don't make people earn our respect. In hiring, this can become a big problem because we sense people's potential (it's also one of our gifts) and we automatically respect people for that potential.
Many businesses, particularly small businesses or startups, need people who can work independently, take on the role completely on Day 1, and do what is required immediately with little orientation or training. If you hire people based on their potential, it requires that you spend a lot of time training and mentoring them, supervising their work, giving lots of feedback, and explaining your expectations in great detail. Most of us don't have the luxury of taking the time and effort required to do that.
Most right brainers I work with pride themselves on giving people opportunities, in part because many of them got where they are because they were given opportunities. However, this practice often creates a tremendous amount of overwhelm, missed expectations, stress, and additional work for the person who hired them (that would be you). So while you might feel great about giving someone a chance - an opportunity to learn and grow - you could be sabotaging your business.
Here's what it looks like when you hire based on proof of competence:
People start their roles being able to anticipate our expectations because they've already done it.
They can make an immediate impact on the outcomes you need.
They know the job better than you do.
Roadblock #4: Helping Everyone Else vs. Helping Yourself
Right brainers love to help people. Most run businesses that serve others well, while leaving the owner worn out, stressed, financially strapped, and chaotic.
Most right brain executives focus on what the clients need vs. what their employees (or they, themselves) need. This usually results in high staff turnover because expectations are unclear. When the sole focus is on helping the clients, vs. valuing the needs of the employees and owner as well, people will search for somewhere else to work where they are valued and appreciated.
Most right brain entrepreneurs and executives call me for help when they are in a crisis. Either they are completely worn out and they want their lives back, their businesses are at risk of going under, or their staff is ready to mutiny. Usually they've played with a million strategies, but haven't completely followed through with any of them.
Here's what it looks like when you help yourself, as a right brain entrepreneur or executive:
You're really clear on what your needs, your employees' needs, the business's needs and your customer's needs are. I often ask my clients, "Did you start your business to focus on everybody else, or to create the freedom and life you wanted?"
Then you create the systems, processes and procedures that get those needs met. You literally design your business with this in mind.
You're able to run a profitable business with happy employees, happy customers, and you finally have the time and energy to have a life you really enjoy.
If you're facing any of these road blocks, use my 15 years of expertise of helping hundreds of people just like you take the steps and make the changes required to overcome them.
Working across multiple industries, including advertising, public relations, design, software development, gaming, etc. often gives me unique insights into emerging trends that most people may think are isolated to their particular field or profession.
One trend I'm noticing now is that the sales process is changing in each of these industries. It's not just that the sales cycle has nearly doubled in the past 4-6 months, but that the decision making structure, itself, has been transformed and the ultimate decision makers have changed.
Finance is playing a greater part in these decisions, and is often becoming the ultimate decision maker.
Boards of Advisors are also playing a much greater role, and are often the final decision maker for projects.
That didn't used to be the case. And it's like the rules have changed, but nobody told you.
No one should be surprised that the finance department has become more involved. After the long recession and recovery, financial decisions are under intense scrutiny and must be managed well. However, when finance people are making purchase decisions for areas they aren't qualified to make, it requires you to educate financial decision-makers on the benefits and expected return of what you are selling.
Remember, finance folks are "numbers" people. They love data. Naturally, then, there is a greater demand for measurement. This new requirement is tough for most sales people and small business owners in creative fields who aren't used to quantifying the results of their work.
I'm also hearing from my clients that when it comes time for their prospective client to make a decision about working with them, either the clients didn't communicate at all, or communicated that the Board was reviewing the decision. This is highly frustrating and not anticipated by most sales people.
What this change now requires is asking your clients specifically who will be making the final decision? What's the process for making the decision? And it may even require incentivizing your customers to make a decision by a particular date.
Here is a perfect example.
I was working with a client in public relations who was facing this challenge. To help their prospective client make a decision sooner rather than later (which is important for your own cash flow needs), we created a bonus if the client made a decision early, and a savings if they made the decision by a particular date.
What this new trend means is:
You may have to approach the sales process differently and provide different (new) types of information, depending on who is making the decision.
You may have to change your expectations on the length of sales cycle and the amount of effort you need to expend to land new business.
You probably need to get more creative about how you help clients make decisions in a time frame that works for your business, and that makes them even more confident about the decision they end up making.
Have you noticed this trend happening in your own business? What has changed about your typical sales cycle, or about the decision-making process your own customers are using?
Leave a comment below to share.
If you need help creating a strategy, work with your coach, or call me, to get help.
Hiring and evaluating new team members is a challenge for most entrepreneurs - and often an even greater challenge for overcommitted entrepreneurs. We're often in such a rush to make a decision and get someone - anyone - onboard that we neglect to use some of the best practices.
The focus today, when talking about jobs, is almost always on the jobs numbers and how hard it is to find a job. Left out of this conversation is how challenging it can be for employers to find the right person to hire amidst the deluge of applications. This can easily lead to overwhelm, which is even more stressful when you need to make a decision quickly.
So the question is, are you hiring (and vetting) properly so that you identify the person who is the best fit - the best fit for you, for your business, and for that person?
Most busy and overcommitted entrepreneurs either rush or pay too little attention to the hiring process because they need people quickly or have a hard time prioritizing. Sometimes it's a simple as not taking the time to get clear on what they really need their new hire to do. This is sometimes called the "Warm Body Syndrome."
Lately I've noticed that a number of my clients are having challenges with employees. In almost every case, the challenges stem from performance issues that could have been identified in the hiring process but weren't.
Here is a perfect example from one of my clients. (Names have been changed, of course.)
Sam runs a restaurant and was having problems with his chef. When we talked, Sam had set up interviews with 12 candidates for the chef position.
Let's face it, 12 interviews for a small business is a tremendous amount of time that can distract the owner from their normal responsibilities.
I asked Sam to cancel these (in-person) interviews and instead, set up a powerful phone screening process that would allow him to identify the top candidates in 5 minutes.
The Power of Questions
When you ask the right questions, you can streamline your effective hiring process by getting the critical information you need about a candidate and his/her experiences and qualifications.
Here are the questions we identified for Sam to ask, after I helped him get very clear about exactly what he needed this new hire to be able to do.
Tell me about your experience of running a restaurant this size and turning it around.
Tell me the problems you ran into doing that, and how you handled those problems.
Tell me what you like about my restaurant and what you think you might want to change about it.
Sam spent 5 minutes on the phone with all 12 people. This saved him 11 hours he would have otherwise spent interviewing...assuming he was able to stick to his timeframe of 1-hour interviews. And out of all 12 candidates, there was only one person who had the experience to do what Sam needed.
That person, on paper, wasn't Sam's first choice. But by asking the RIGHT questions to get to the right information, it was obvious who was best for the job.
That's not to say you don't also conduct an in-person interview - you definitely do for this type of position. But by asking the right questions to get to the most relevant information, Sam was able to save himself a tremendous amount of time that he could, instead, use to focus on other parts of his business.
So, people aren't really asking for exactly what they want. Either they are overwhelmed, or they are bootstrapping and can't pay top dollar, so they think they can't find the employees they want.
The truth is there are great people who have great qualifications...if you take the time to ask the right powerful questions.
What do you actually need this new person to do when they are successful in their role?
What question(s) can you ask that will evaluate whether they have this experience or not?
What do you really want to know about their experience in this area? (Sam wanted to make sure the chef he was hiring would respect the reputation, the food, and the setting of his restaurant.)
If you do this exercise and are hesitant to ask these questions, you probably have the belief that either you aren't worthy of investing in, or that deep down you don't believe someone could actually do the work, or that what you are paying isn't in line with your expectations.
Each of these 3 can be addressed if you're willing to do the work. Good hires are easier to find than most people think. It's also much easier, more cost effective, and far less stressful to hire the right person (by using these types of questions) than to manage, train or fire unqualified people.
As business leaders, we are always paying attention to the results we are getting in our companies. We generally have a pretty good idea of where we are at any given moment.
But if we're really going to be LEADERS, we also have to be clear about the trajectory our business is on. This isn't quite the same as having goals or a vision. It's actually measuring whether or not you are on course for that vision.
How do you know what trajectory your business is on right now?
It's pretty simple, really. Look at your financials, including your number of clients or orders so far this year, and multiply it by 4.
If you were to do the same things in future quarters that you're doing right now, this is what your year will look like. What you are currently doing, the current results you are producing, represents the trajectory of your business.
Is that what you want? Are you on course for your goals and vision?
If not, what are the top three things you can do to change the trajectory so that you can more easily meet the goals you set for this year?
These don't necessarily have to be huge things, or even difficult to implement.
Sometimes just a little shift in direction produces an entirely different result over time. Just like a shift of just a few degrees in the trajectory of an airplane's path can mean the difference between landing at your vacation destination or a hostile country, a slight shift in the direction of your business now can mean a dramatic difference in results by the end of the fourth quarter.
So, what are those top three things you can do, change, or implement to change your trajectory to be on course for your destination? And when would you like to begin making those changes? (Hint: the right answer is "Now".)
People often ask why I named this company Loving Leaders. After all, it is an odd name for a company serving executives and entrepreneurs, right?
The truth is, I was tired of seeing the greed, the stress, the intimidation, the manipulation and the value extraction of the current leadership paradigm. I knew we needed an entirely new leadership paradigm - one based on creating sustainable businesses with:
leaders who love what they do
leaders who want to create environments where their employees love what they do
employees who love to come to work and do a great job
customers who feel - yes - loved, taken care of, and appreciated fully.
That's what I'm all about. I'm interested in helping people create sustainable businesses that intermingle with their sustainable lives.
What I had been seeing in the business world seemed to be working toward, or at least ending up, with the exact opposite. Greed, stress, intimidation, manipulation, and using people up until they burn out simply destroy sustainability.
My belief is that a business can only be sustainable when the leaders and the team members truly love what they do, feel supported by the work they do and the company they do it with, believe they are contributing to something greater than or more important than just the work itself, and when the customers or clients can actually feel this through their interactions with the company.
My particular specialty is in helping people tailor their business so they can love it. That's a fundamental piece when creating sustainability.
I work with people to establish all sorts of metrics to gauge how their business is doing. A specific one I use in my own is "personal fulfillment". I measure fulfillment levels of myself and my team because each person's level of fulfillment affects the business. It affects how we feel about the work we do, our energy and commitment we bring to the table when we're actually doing the work or interacting with clients and potential clients, and quite frankly, it affects how creative and resourceful we are when coming up with new solutions.
Fulfillment is defined as "reaching our potential individually."
When I told my mom I decided to name my business Loving Leaders, LLC, her response was "That doesn't sound very business-like to me." And I said, "Exactly. That's the problem." (Meaning: That's the problem with business.)
We've associated anger and greed and stress and difficulty with business, rather than love, creativity, responsiveness, generosity, fulfillment and wealth. Leaders are rewarded for working long hours, working much harder than they need to, and getting as much out of their employees as they can before the employee decides to seek employment elsewhere.
Rarely are leaders in traditional business rewarded for love, creativity, responsiveness, generosity, fulfillment and wealth. Maybe they get acknowledged for some of these things, some of the time, but as a business paradigm, it's a fairly lonely one.
Recently a client I have worked with continuously for 11 years said "I really respect your commitment to me. I never thought I would meet anyone who cared about my business as much as I did. Thank you!"
That's the kind of business leader I want to be. I hope I exhibit this level of commitment with every person I work with and inspire them to do the same. That's why Loving Leaders exists.
Love is about giving people, our businesses, and important things in our lives the attention, devotion, commitment, and sometimes the kick in the ass, they need.
Love is about respecting something fully. It means wanting the best for it. It also means not letting it off the hook.
Loving Leaders - It's who we are. It's what we do. It's who we help others become. Do you love your business like I do?
Are you strategically and proactively planning for the seasonality of your business?
Every single business I've worked with experiences a seasonal impact.
Most people think the only organizations with seasonal impact are industries like farming and retail, etc. But consulting firms, creative and design agencies, technology companies, financial institutions, airlines, etc. also experience a seasonality.
Small to medium sized business owners often don't think about the seasonality of their business. If you're interested in building a sustainable business, then you really have to build a responsive business. That means anticipating the seasonal impact - whether that's releasing a software product and you need more developers and testers for a brief period of time, you need to hire designers for a big project, you need to find freelancers for an experiential marketing campaign, or you need to plan your vacation when you have downtime because you are a solopreneur.
Identifying the Seasonality of Your Business:
Look over the last three years of your financial reports. This is a good starting point to figure out the seasonality of your business. However, you may also need to look at time sheets, software release timelines, or other important documents that give you insight into the seasonal aspects of your business.
Look for crunch times and slow times. Look for spikes in revenue, as well as dips in revenue.
Look for any indication that implies you are more busy or less busy than at other times over the past three years.
When you are clear on the seasonal flow of your business, you can make plans and take strategic action to influence that seasonality.
For example, if you've had a slow first quarter every year for the last three years, ramp up your marketing in October. (Yes, I understand that won't help this year, but at least you'll be prepared for next year.)
Or, if you have need for freelancers multiple times throughout the year, put your job postings up permanently so you always have access to a qualified pool of freelancers.
There are a million and one ways to strategize around pattern analysis, to offset patterns, take advantage of patterns, or just be informed.
For example, a design firm I work with traditionally had a dip in the first quarter of the year. When we examined the financials closely, we made the decision to spend extra time in the fourth quarter of the year focusing on business development.
The result? In 2013 they already have their best first quarter ever! That means they have business booked January, February and March already and it's more business than they've had in any year. That's being strategic!
But...be careful about making assumptions about seasonality.
Just because other people say December is slow in your industry, doesn't mean it has to be that way. For example, in my industry (coaching), people always say December is the slowest month. But for me, December is usually the busiest of the year.
January is usually my slowest. So I'll take advantage of that by ending this post now and taking some much needed down time. :)
What is the seasonal impact on your business...and what are you planning to do about it?
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and ending the year, it's time to set your vision and goals for next year.
The holidays often provide down time - time for reflection.
They can also generate inordinate amounts of stress, making it hard to find the time, or the desire, to reflect.
As a leader for your organization, it's critical to find the space, time, and perspective to create a vision and set your goals for the following year.
So...how to plan for next year, amid the end-of-year chaos?
Here's the truth.
You can't be strategic - have a wide field of vision - if you're under stress. Our bodies are biologically inhibited from being strategic when we're stressed.
If you're one of the many folks who can't find the time and space to plan for next year amid the hustle and bustle and family and gifts, give yourself permission to wait until you have the time, space and perspective.
Plans made under pressure or in haste are usually short-sighted, fraught with problems, and incomplete.
This is how to tell if you gained the perspective required for strategic thinking:
You are calm.
You can think about the future without being distracted by the current and immediate past.
You are able to paint a picture with words about the future state of the business.
You are able to anticipate pivot points, bottlenecks, and challenges between the current reality and the vision you've painted.
If you feel stressed, limited or stuck, then you haven't yet gained the perspective to plan properly.
When I'm working with executive coaching clients, my work often focuses on what needs to be fixed, what is acute, urgent, a crisis or what's wrong in the business. However, I've discovered one of the most important things I do is help people take a moment to realize the progress they've made.
Since it is November, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I encourage you to do an exercise to help you take stock of where you are, how far you've come, and what has made that possible.
First, list all the changes and progress you've made this year.
Be sure to include things like major projects you completed, new clients you've landed, new employees you've hired, new partners you've brought on board, and all the communication and blog posts, emails, tweets that you've sent out this year. And, of course, all the lessons you've learned.
Next, list all the things that are working in your business and that you are grateful for.
This would include things that you never, or hardly ever, have to think about. (Hint: When you don't have to think about something and it gets done anyway, that's a sign that things are working.)
What's the purpose of this exercise?
It's easy to get caught up in the doing, the to do lists, and all the tasks and activities.
When I think about all we've accomplished in my own business, I marvel at our abilities and capabilities - and all the ideas we've come up with.
Consider how much you actually impact others, and how much you are rewarded for that impact, whether it be financial, good will, name recognition, thank you letters, raving reviews, referrals, etc.
It is important to acknowledge all you've done this year, and the trajectory that you are on.Looking at all the things you've accomplished, all the things that are working that you're grateful for, and all the things you never even have to think about.
Think about the trajectory you are on, the leader you are becoming, the business you are building, the impact you're making and will continue to make.
Take a moment. Let it sink in.
Now add one more item to your to do list:
Thank the 5 people who have been most instrumental in helping you...whether that's a phone call to an old mentor, email to a former teacher, a gift to a business partner, a hug to your coach, or a big hug to your spouse or partner. Just do it.
Gratitude is a sign of maturity, self-awareness, and leadership.
And who needs one?
Many people ask me what my work is like. Because everything I do is confidential, it is often difficult for people to grasp the type of work I do. Here's a typical day this week:
1. I helped a real estate agent who's burned out and really uninterested in his job discover his life's purpose
2. I helped a multi-billion-dollar heiress evaluate the soundness of one of her investments, identify challenges with her investing knowledge and created a plan for how to communicate with and hold her investment managers accountable
3. I helped CEO of a billion-dollar real estate marketing firm set personal and professional goals for the next 10 years
4. I coached two business partners who are fighting and pointing fingers at each other on how to resolve their differences and focus on growing their company. (They still have some work to do to forgive each other! There's only so much healing that can happen in an hour!)
5. I helped a Creative Director evaluate his employees' performance and create individual development plans to improve the quality of their projects
6. I helped a massage therapist develop a high-level business model so that he can work toward his goals
Seems pretty varied on the surface, doesn't it? The truth is, every single one of these coaching engagements was helping each of these individuals tap into their own wisdom, explore where they weren't trusting themselves and combine that with my intuition and knowledge across hundreds of companies, dozens of industries and over 15 years of experience coaching people to create a plan and path forward that they can trust.
Simple. Quick. Effective. What do you need help figuring out? Set up a 30-minute complementary exploratory coaching session with me.