Put a Spring in Your Business

As we finish out this month and our discussion on spring I wanted to talk about one last and very important topic when it comes to spring and life and our businesses.  One of the biggest aspects to spring is that it means life.  I see so many unfortunately dead and lifeless businesses each day.  It makes me sad to think that somewhere between their creation and now the spark has disappeared.  While I do know that some businesses are meant to exist for only a (short) period of time, I still feel sad about it, just like I do knowing that dogs only live about 15 years.  Don’t give up on your business yet if you’re able to identify with the lack of spark, let’s talk about it first.

First, just about every one and every thing goes through seasons of “winter.”  This is when we do let go of things, things die down, things slow down etc.  Don’t be ashamed or concerned because you’re going through this season, take the time to work on that which you’ve been putting off, or do the cleaning up that you’ve been meaning to do for a while.

Second, know that people would much rather buy from someone who is cheerful and looks like they enjoy what they’re doing and that the business is alive, if not thriving, rather than one who is not.  If you’re not feeling the passion, take a back seat for a while and let your team do more of the interaction, or decide that it’s time to move on.

Third, if you don’t want to move on and don’t have a team you either need to hire one and/or need to rediscover your passion and excitement for and about what you do.  Create a schedule that allows for some balance of life and work.  Take time to really think about what you do and how you do it and see if there isn’t a better way to do everything.  Or maybe it’s time for a fresh coat of paint or a new location or rearranging your office.

I hope that you got into your business because you were passionate about it, not (just) for reasons of money.  But it turns out that when we’re happy doing what we’re doing we actually have a better chance of being successful.  So this week take time to explore your business spark, and if you don’t know, it’s time to find out!

Celebrating our Bodies

With Easter being this past Sunday of course I’ve been thinking about the concept of new life.  It reminded me of a quote by Steven Hall: “Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there’s not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago.”  Of course this gets me thinking about all the possibilities there are for healing and recovery from sicknesses, not to mention those who quit smoking or doing other drugs.  It also makes me question why we do such bad things to our bodies that we even need to know that it’s a 7 year cycle.

So part of me is really thankful that we’ve got the gift of a body that regrows itself, even if it does take 7 years to happen.  I mean, how cool is that?!  But part of me is upset that it takes that long!!  I know, I’ve seen too many crimes solved in under 60 minutes and food cooked and delivered in under 30 minutes to have any kind of real time perception, not even what people had 50 years ago.  But why doesn’t our body do the replacement every year or every 5 years, why does it have to take 7?  There are tons of things that we could question, but I think this is one of those that is better seen as a gift rather than something to complain about.

So as you dive into this new week I encourage you to remember that your body refreshes itself, and so should you in the other areas of your life.  Take time to celebrate the new opportunities in your life and those that pop back up again.  Be thankful for the body you have and all that it does for you on a daily basis, especially the things you don’t think about.  Celebrate that you’re alive and able to move around however you do it and able to enjoy each moment of your life.

Celebrating Easter

How many have you been to this year?  Come on, you know what I’m talking about! Easter egg hunts!  There are those that your kids do at home plus the dozens around the town and at different churches.   Recently I was driving past one and it had to be the craziest thing I’ve seen.  Rather than doing an actual hunt they were using a football field and had just strewn eggs everywhere.  So it was more like an Easter egg race than a hunt.  If nothing else it certainly was different from the usual for the kids.

But it got me thinking about the joy that Easter is all about.  If you can remember being a kid and anticipating the egg hunt, as well as things like Christmas morning, Halloween or your birthday parties or the day before a big vacation, it’s one of those big days that was super exciting every year.  I can remember being excited to see my Easter basket and play with the eggs for weeks after.  As adults we don’t always get as excited as the kids do.  We’ve got lots to deal with like the logistics of filling all those eggs.

But Easter maybe more than any other holiday is one that’s about joy.  It doesn’t have the pressures of Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but it is a chance for family to gather together and celebrate.  Whether you’re celebrating spring’s arrival or the religious reasons behind Easter, it’s a reminder to celebrate life. It’s a reminder that winter is ending and it’s time to start living again.  It’s time to open up the eggs that life gives us and find the treats and surprises inside.  It’s time to put a little spring in your step and work on forgiveness with family and friends.  Even if you have to do a little work to find them, life does have blessings for you.  Find something each day this weekend to celebrate, even if it’s something as small as a newly grown flower, or the joy of watching your kids race for the eggs.

Is Your Business Just a Fad?

This past week I’ve been thinking about two things: that which lasts and that which is only a fad. So I thought today we’d take some time to look at a couple of concepts and topics that relate to this debate and what we can learn from the successes and failures.

Fad: Daily Deal Sites
I read another article this past week saying how the daily deal site concept continues to decline.  Fewer and fewer people are taking advantage of the plethora of deals that companies are pushing.  Is that because they don’t want the deals anymore? Probably not, because we’re still buying many of the products and services that are listed on daily deal sites, and people still love getting a great deal on things that they want and need.  But people’s buying habits and interest in the daily deal concept have changed.

Lasts: Value
One of the biggest questions people ask when they look at your business offering is “what’s in it for me?”  People want to know what they’re getting from you if they subscribe, buy, like, read, attend or otherwise interact with you.  Are you offering what everyone else is offering (i.e. a perfectly good cup of coffee) or are you offering something that people can’t get too many other places?  Is your value clearly displayed and obvious to anyone who connects with you or do they have to take time to figure it out themselves?

Fad: Viral
The concept of viral is great: if everyone could know about us we’d all be famous, or have all the money we ever wanted or everyone would solve their problems or everyone would be happy or whatever your dream is about going viral.  However, all too often ‘viral’ translates to one hit wonder.  Beyond that, viral isn’t sustainable. You can’t stay at the top, we all have to come down at some point in time.  Being a one hit wonder doesn’t translate to years of income and consistent earnings and opportunities, typically just those that follow the viral episode, and are almost never equal to what could be achieved over time with a little patience.

Lasts: Leadership
The world is desperately in need of good leadership. From the visible people like presidents and world leaders to those who are making a difference in small communities around the world there’s always a need for good leadership, for people who will stand up for what’s right and those who are in need.  We need people who will encourage positive and empowering changes and lead the way to making them reality.

Is your business hiding behind fads when it should be focusing on that which lasts?

A Season and Gift of Hope

One of the things I love most about spring is that it is a season of hope.  With the arrival of spring officially yesterday we can cautiously put away our winter clothes and think about wearing shorts and tank tops and having our lunches in the sun and taking walks after dinner.  I know those things excite me!

Research has been done over the years about how challenging winter is for many people, so much so that they’ve given it a name: seasonal affective disorder.  You’ve probably heard about it and may know someone who deals with it or struggle with it yourself.  So when spring rolls around it’s a fresh breath of air for these people especially, and for all of us too.

Not only am I thankful today for the arrival of spring, I’m thankful for the people in the world who are called to make people happy, to encourage them, and to cheer them up.  I’m not talking about the people who are considered “comics” or the shows that are “comedies.”  Yes, they have their own place in things and sometimes the break they offer is what you want.  But the people I’m talking about are those who make you smile when you see them or they call, the people who brighten every day, the people who always have something good to say, and those who can see some good in just about everything.

You may not think you’re that person, and maybe you’re not always or often that person. But each of us can be the bright light if we so choose to be.  Your light and hope may be what someone needs to choose to live another day, or just the little hope that they need to try again tomorrow.

“The greatest gift that you can give to others is to be happy and hopeful yourself; then you draw them up out of their despondency.” Dr. Edward Bach

Preparing for the Worst

Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day.  People around the world celebrated St. Patrick and share some Irish wisdom with their friends and family, along with a beer or two, and maybe some cabbage and corned beef.  This week we’ve taken a look at some Irish wisdom and we’re going to look at one last bit today.

“Nothing is as easy as it looks.
Everything takes longer than you expect.
And if anything can go wrong,
It will, at the worst possible moment.”
Irish Saying

Sometimes life isn’t about being the perfect dad, perfect mom, perfect kid, perfect partner or perfect family, sometimes life is about doing the best you can.  The Irish are one of many people groups who can look back through their history and see proof of their tenacity, courage and will to live.  They have worked hard to stay alive and overcome the challenges they face.

Can you say the same thing about your family?  Have you come together to overcome the challenges you each face, or are you too busy nit-picking on what’s not right or perfect to help in their time of need?  Given how few guarantees there are in life (death, change, taxes), and how likely it is that we’ll face challenges at work or school, disagreements with friends, health concerns and loss, to not expect life to go wrong or not perfectly is a mistake.

While no one wants the worst that could possibly happen to happen, it’s not smart to ignore that it could happen.  Taking the time to plan for some unwanted possibilities could go a long way to not only protecting your future and ensuring you have some control over it, but also the future of your kids.  Don’t be afraid to throw a little hard work into your future and teach your kids the benefits of hard work, it could save you in the future.

Wishes of Success

Tomorrow in the USA we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You’ve probably seen lots of businesses hopping onto the marketing opportunity with green, leprechauns and clovers everywhere. This week I’ve been and will continue to share some wisdom from the Irish, and I’ve got one today for us with regards to our businesses as well.

“There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish
And those who wish they were.”

This quote brings up lots of different thoughts, but the first and most obvious is about the jealousy and longing that we experience when we look at others who are, based on what we see, very successful when we feel we’re just getting by. It is good to desire the success they have, it helps to motivate us to do the work necessary to get to the next level of our own success. What we don’t always see though is the challenges they face in that success. It’s a huge responsibility to be that successful. You’ve got money to deal with that you’ve never had in the past, you’ve got people depending on you more than ever, not to mention the responsibility to help those less fortunate in the world and make the world a better place. Beyond that, what got them to their success may not get us to our own. Everyone’s success journey is different and while we can learn from their journey, it’s very rare to be able to completely replicate the journey successfully for your business.

So if success is really what you want, stop looking longingly at the other people and businesses and start doing what it will take to achieve the level of success you desire. Make a plan, hire a coach, spend time networking and reaching out to potential connections and customers. On the journey you may discover what you actually want is different than what you thought you were working towards, and that’s OK. But you won’t know if you can achieve the success you dream about or if there’s something else you’re really dreaming about until you start down that path.

Thankful for Holidays

This week I’ll be sharing Irish blessings and sayings in honor of St. Patrick’s Day as part of our inspiration and lessons. As we head to yet another holiday I’m reminded of some of the miserable people of the world who think there are entirely too many holidays and too much commercialism of life. Yes, there are tons of holidays, both large and small, you could celebrate on a daily, monthly and yearly basis (this website shares tons), but as I got to thinking about yet another holiday this week I thought about the ‘why’ of having so many holidays.

Why have so many holidays anyway? A holiday is simply a reason to celebrate something. Given the number of miserable and unhappy people in the world I’d say that’s something we all need more of. But just because there’s a holiday, it doesn’t mean you have to spend money on the tchotchkes and trappings that make that holiday trendy. While we all have our lives to celebrate and be thankful for each day, often that’s not enough to make us feel thankful or alive, even though life is a really great gift in and of itself.  If there’s something specific to celebrate it makes it easier for us to celebrate and be thankful for.

So what are you celebrating today? Are you celebrating the luck that’s been in your life of late? Are you celebrating the relationship that’s finally blossoming? Are you celebrating another day to drink with friends and celebrate your heritage? Are you celebrating the coworker who came through with the project? What are you celebrating today?

“May you have length with your days,
and strength with your step,
and may each season have a reason
to celebrate your faith in mankind!”

Irish proverb

Just Checking In

We’ve reached the end of another work week for most people, are you ready for the weekend?  It’s been a crazy week for me, yes, every week is crazy but this one had some extra special things thrown in to deal with.  Yesterday in discussing things with a friend I realized where this week broke down and how even though I was communicating with others it wasn’t enough, something still wasn’t connecting right.

Communication is more than just putting words together, it’s about the meaning, heart, feeling, passion and presence behind them.  For example say you get a text from someone you know.  That text may really excite you if you have been waiting to hear from that person, even if it says something simple like “OK” or “How are you?”  Or let’s say you get the “OK” text from one of your kids, in that case it may feel more like they’re angry and rebelling and trying to get you off their back than anything else.

So rather than just pushing off a quick email or text or trying to get things straight with your partner in the 2 minutes before one or both of you rushes out the door take the time to not only think through what you’re about to say but make sure that your attention is fully on what you’re discussing, and not on the other million things that need your attention throughout the rest of the day or in the near future.  Make the time to be fully present with those you care most about.  When you do it will reduce times in the future that you’ll have to re-discuss and re-communicate about the same issues you’ve already talked through.

Being fully present isn’t just about communications though, it’s about when you’re with people, too.  Like when you’re on your phone while you’re on a date or playing with your kids.  If you’re on the phone you can’t be giving your best attention to the person you’re with and you can’t be playing along with your kids and building your relationship with them if you’re too busy scrolling.

Make time this weekend to truly check in with those you care about, paying attention to their answer and not just moving on to the other things you have to do because checking in with them is a responsibility, when in fact it’s a blessing to have anyone to check in with at all.

The Childhood Success Secret

Today I have one of the simplest yet possibly most powerful success secrets to share with you, and it’s one that we’ve been told since childhood: do your homework.  How many times in the past week have you been asked a question that has been clearly answered somewhere or the answer is find-able with an easy Google search?  How many LinkedIn requests have you gotten that said “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn?”  How many irrelevant cross promotion requests have you gotten?  My guess is that you would say yes to at least one of these things, maybe even all of them several times over in the past week.

Not doing your homework is not a good first impression.  So often we only have a first impression with someone, so if we come across as crass, rude, lazy or egotistic that first impression can become a very last impression.   It doesn’t take a lot of work to do your homework typically, a 2 minute visit to a website, glance at their social profile or Google search can answer most questions.  Not only do you skip the back-and-forth that would have gone on between you and the other person (and wasted both your time), you’re able to approach them as a consummate professional.

Don’t get me wrong, I love questions.  I have no problem with questions asking for clarification after doing the homework and reviewing the research, asking questions is one of the best ways to grow and learn.  But expecting others to have all the answers to your questions because you’re too lazy to do the reading/research is not something I, and many other business professionals, respect.

This week I encourage you to take the time to do just a little reading, just a little research, and put in just a little effort before you go asking questions that have easy to find answers or try to begin a professional relationship without knowing anything about the other person.