Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Checking out

I don’t know about you, but it is only when I leave my office.  In fact, leave the country and my cell phone and all electronics behind, that I really get to switch off.

Life without my business.  Hard to imagine but it is important to do, because sometimes in our hectic life as business owner, we lose track of who we are and can become too caught up in the day-to-day nuances of running our business.

It will still be there when I get back.  But I will return a different person.  Hopefully more mellow and relaxed about stuff, and my memory more in tact.  I’ve noticed lately that my hard drive must be full as I’ve been getting dates wrong or forgetting stuff.  A definite sign that it’s time to reboot and rediscover the real Anne Day.

It’s actually good to experience a few weeks without the business in the background, because there will come a day, when I won’t be the business owner and if all my identity and sense of worth is tied up in it, it doesn’t bode well for the years ahead.

And I have lots I want to do, including the two books I need to finish this summer. But somehow that is different.   I like projects like that where there is a beginning, a middle and an end.

But right now, I am at the beginning.  The beginning of a few weeks of just resting up, visiting with friends, enjoying the beautiful scenery and finding peace as the waves lash to the shore.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  I’ll let you know.

Have a wonderful July.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer - it's a time to slow down

I love summer.  Partly because the pace is slower (and I have very few events) but also because for me, it’s a time for reflection, restoration and rejuvenation – so come the fall I am ready to take on another year.

At a recent Company of Women meeting we explored how we used our summer time. For many there were plans, loose at times depending on what industry you are in, but definitely time to slow down.

But few of us can afford to take the months of July and August completely off and we chatted about what you can do so you focus on your business, but not so intensely.

Certainly with reflection, you can look back on the year to date and ask yourself what has worked, what hasn’t and where do you need to focus your energies in the months ahead. Megan and I used to always do a Stop. Start. Continue. exercise which made us analyze what we needed to do and change. 

One year we questioned whether we really needed members, now that was the year I knew we needed a break!  Clearly that was one stop that we didn’t implement.  But I do think it is important to be open to dramatic changes, and not to feel locked in because you’ve always done it this way.

Getting your systems and files in order is another task I often assign to the summer months.  Each year I try to accumulate less paper.  I look forward to the time that I can boast having a paperless office.

I don’t know about you, but I like to use my time in the summer months to catch up with friends and meet with people I want to see, but have not been able to squeeze into my busy schedule.  Sadly it is often our friendships that get put on the back burner, and yet our girlfriend time is what can revitalize us.  There is nothing quite like a good laugh with girlfriends over a glass of wine. 

Our time on the slow lane also allows us to pause and determine if we are in fact heading in the right direction.  I find during the hectic months of my year, I am almost on auto-pilot, and it is good just to cruise for a while and explore the side roads, instead of just tearing down the highway, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Whatever you do this summer, I hope you have a good one and come back in the fall, rested and raring to go.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Danger. Pay attention.

I know.  I said I wouldn’t write any more about the puppy, but you know he provides such great business/life lessons, that I couldn’t resist sharing this one.

He’s a handsome fellow, now a year old, completely trained and knows the rules. Because he’s been so good at sticking to his “territory” we’d taken to shooing him outside when he needed to go.  And in the cold weather, we were more than happy with this routine. He would go outside and bark when he wanted in.

All was well.  Until Tuesday.  When he decided to explore and visit our new cows, ten of them, and the bull.  He thought it would be fun and games as he played in their field, darting in between, getting them to chase him.  My heart was in my mouth as I watched him, thinking just one kick from the bull and it could be game over.  No matter how much we called him, he ignored us. He was having way too much fun, not realizing the danger he was in.  Eventually he came out.

But we are watching him like a hawk again.  Putting him on a leash so we can keep close tabs on him.

To me, it illustrates that no matter how much we trust people, and you think they know the rules of the game, you can’t just assume all is OK.  You have to keep your eye on the ball – be it staff, clients or competition.  Just because something appears all right, well, maybe it’s not.

Now, I am not suggesting we all get paranoid about schemes, plots and theft – more that we can’t afford to get complacent.  We can’t afford to ignore small signs, red flags that make you suspicious.  We can’t assume that others will behave the way we would.  Sadly not everyone works with integrity.  So listen to those nagging doubts, they may be telling you something.

As for Brodie – his little frolic in the field has cost him.  He needs to earn back our trust that he will stick within the boundaries of “his space.”  Until then, we’re watching. You could say, like a teenager caught breaking a curfew, he’s grounded. 

And I suspect, it is going to be a l-o-n-g summer. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Are you tapping at the right window?

For the past three weeks a small yellow bird has been tapping at different windows of the farmhouse.  He starts with one and then moves to the next, systematically working his way around.

At first I thought he wanted to get inside, but after making a few enquiries to my country friends, it turns out it is mating season and the bird, on seeing his vision in the window is attacking his assumed competitor.   Fascinating.

We actually could learn some business lessons from this young bird. 

1.              Wasting time
If we use our time attacking or obsessively watching our competitors (real or otherwise) we are wasting our time and energy which should be focused on what we want to do, not what others are doing.  Yes, pay attention to what your competitors are up to,  but don’t let their strategies force you to do something you don’t want to do.

2.              We get in our own way
My feathered friend is so persistent on attacking himself that he is getting in his own way of success.   He needs to be out and about strutting his stuff, instead of attacking my windows.  Often we can get in our own way, doubting our abilities and holding ourselves back from the success we deserve.

3.              Know when it is time to change direction
Now this one is harder for the business owner but watch for signs that perhaps, just perhaps, you are heading in the wrong direction and it is time to give up and move on to something else. 

4.              Make sure your persistence is not misguided.
After three weeks, the bird is beginning to look frazzled and while you admire his tenacity, you have to ask yourself whether he is focusing on the right thing. My poor lad is not going to get anywhere, regardless of how much he tries to eliminate the supposed enemy he sees in the window.  All he is doing is exhausting himself and we can do that too when we insist on pursuing the unattainable.

I haven’t seen him for a couple of days, and my hope is that he’s changed his plans and maybe even got luckyJ