Values express what is most important to you. Personal alignment in business includes being congruent with what you say is important to you, what you value, and how you spend your time, money and energy.
If you’ve ever been in a situation that is misaligned with your values, you know how uncomfortable it can be. However, oftentimes we are misaligned with our own values and do nothing about it. By identifying your values here, it forces you to consider if you are in conflict with yourself and then to take the necessary steps to make appropriate adjustments.
Identifying your values
In this exercise, we will not be using the word values to describe a sense of morals or a personal philosophy. That’s a valid way to define values, but we will instead be using values to mean the qualities that define you, that are at the core of who you are. Without these things, you would not be you.
Our values help us make choices about what we commit to in our lives. If you commit time and energy to something that violates or neglects one of your core values, you will start to feel resentful and frustrated. If you are not honoring your values in your choices of activities and relationships, you will get that nagging feeling that something is missing or wrong in your life.
While it is enormously helpful to know our core values, it’s not always easy to identify them. I’d like you to create a list by thinking about the ideas below. Don’t worry about getting it “right” and capturing all your values. Your list will be a work in progress. Also, your values don’t have to be a single word-they could be strings of words or sentences. Find the words that work for you.
To help identify your values, think about the following:
What is important to you?
What do you care about? What do you want in your life?
Pick a time when has life been rich, full, exhilarating, flowing? And pick a time there may have been challenges, but you were on a roll. It may have been a few minutes, or hours, or weeks. What was important about these experiences both positive and challenging? What values were you honoring during those times?
What drives you nuts or makes you angry or frustrated? Think about one of these things. What value(s) is being violated? What is being stepped on? What is it that you can’t live with and still be true to yourself?
What is so much a part of who you are that you haven’t even thought to put it on the list?
Now jot down your top 10 in order of importance. In business you can chose how many of these become a core part of your business and which of these will be fulfilled in different areas of your life. The import take away here, is that once you are aware, you have the power to make a choice!
I suggest you set a little time aside to go for a walk, journal, or curl up in your favorite thinking spot to answer these questions. Allow yourself to explore to your heart’s content. When you start feeling that excitement you know you are dialed in to your head, heart and gut!
Getting Excited for 2011 Questions:
- 1. What 1 thing do you most want to accomplish in 2011?
- 2. What 1 thing do you want to let go of in 2011?
- Who do you want to be by the end of 2011?
- How do you want to be living by the end of 2011?
- Who would you most like to reconnect with in 2011?
Really allow yourself to answer these questions honestly with no judgment and only love and compassion. Once you are done exploring those questions do the following exercise to turbo charge and allow for the real excitement to set in.
Getting Excited for 2011 Turbo Charge:
Now imagine yourself this time next year, having accomplished all you wrote. Notice what you look and sound like. Step into her, the you of 1 year from now, and notice how you feel, how you move and how you think. Linger there for as long as you’d like. Journal about what it’s like to be in this space. Even take a moment to write yourself a few bits of advice from this place of wisdom and growth. Give this space a symbol, color or a name. And when you are ready take a step back into your current self, bringing that symbol, color or name back with you. Consider what you just experienced. Reread what you wrote and notice the excitement that ensues.
You are well on your way to accomplishing many amazing things in 2011!
Concept – Difference between Efficiency and Effectiveness
Effectiveness is that which you do that gets you closer to the goals you want to achieve
Efficiency is how quickly and efficiently you can get things done, whether it is important or not.
The distinction being that we will fill up space and time that will keep us busy all day because that is what we believe we need to be doing.
When I left the corporate world and started my own business, because I didn’t have clearly defined goals in terms of how I would use all my time and the lifestyle design I came up with, and all that empty space that was left behind from not having to commute and not having to work an 8 – 12 hour work day, depending, in that space of time, I was doing things that were really not of value and that were not effective, but I was being super-efficient about it.
Dreamlining – Taking your dreams and actually putting them against a timeline and setting goals to achieve them. Often what happens – when you leave the corporate world is you’re use to that world – you forget what excites you and how you spend your time doing other things you truly love.
Challenge Yourself Exercise
Think about, if you’re currently in the corporate world or newly into your business – what are you doing that really adds no value and apply things like the Pareto Principle – that 80/20 rule where it states that 80% of your effectiveness comes from 20% of your input – or in other words 80% of the output, comes from 20% of the effort or vice versa 20% of output comes from 80% of the effort.
So where are you spending your time that’s not efficient and practice that rule.
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Concept – Relative vs. Absolute Income – Main underpinning of the book – You need to first know how much you make per hour to really start thinking about what are things you want to outsource.
Tim Ferriss compares Jane Doe and John Doe – Jane Doe makes $100,000/year and is thus twice richer of John Doe who makes $50,000/year. At least this is how we typically see this in the corporate world. Were’ all about how much we make and what’s that title we have and that’s how we measure our success.
Jane makes $100,000/year, $2000/week for each of 50 weeks she works, 80 hrs/week
Works out to – $25/hour
John makes $50,000/year, $1000/week for each of 50 weeks he works, 10 hrs/week
Works out to – $100/hour
Relative Income – John is 4x richer than Jane, especially if he knows what to do with his $50,000/year
Challenge Yourself Exercise
Take a look at how much money you actually need on a regular basis.
Look at what you’re currently at, what you need in order to make minimum payments and also throw in a few things that you would like, so you’re not feeling 100% constrained – don’t throw out all the eating out or massages, etc.
Realistically speaking, as a minimum, how much money do you really need to make in order to feel good about yourself.
Then start figuring in what are those things you really like to do, or would like to do, or would like to achieve with your spare time – how much do those things cost?
So you start to figure out truly how much you money do you need on a weekly or monthly basis in order to make those things happen – not per annum.
That is the paradigm shift in thinking – In corporate world, it’s about more money.
When time is of the essence, you have a set amount of time, how you spend it is as important if not more important than the income that you have coming in to be able to satisfy yourself
1. How much are you really making in terms of actual income? – divide income by hours of work.
2. How much money do you really need in order to survive and feel good about yourself – especially if you were able to cut out that extra time spent working in the corporate world or if you’re starting to be a business owner – how you want to spend your time in order to maximize your lifestyle.
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During this time of giving and gratitude it’s important to consider why you might incorporate this way of being into your business and your personal life. We have been taught from a young age to say “thank you” and to give unselfishly, but as we grow up, we forget the “why” behind the act. The following are updated reminders as to why you would want to incorporate gratitude and giving back into your life. Take a moment to read through the list. Once you are done, pull out a piece of paper to jot down when and where you might incorporate these ways of being.
- Telling an employee that you are grateful for what they do, or share with them a simple “thank you” for something they accomplished. This act will boost them up causing them to be more engaged and feel connected to the business. It will also help establish you as a trustworthy leader that actually sees how they contribute.
- Gratitude and giving back are hot topics covered by all the great entrepreneurs throughout time. If you study the most successful entrepreneurs in history you will see a pattern emerge: giving back to the community and showing gratitude for their customers. Even top entrepreneurs today talk about gratitude and giving back as a must in their lives and businesses. Each and every one believes that time and money must be set aside to give back and that the practice of being grateful for what they currently have allows them to expand in a way so that they can receive more in their life and business.
- During the Fall/Winter months it’s good to know that gratitude also helps to boost the immune system. At the HeartMath Institute studies show that in addition to relieving stress, five minutes of gratitude boosted immune systems for over 24hours.
We all know that gratitude and giving back feels good, but hopefully now you have a few more reasons why you might want to do each.
If you compare the most successful entrepreneurs throughout history, there are clear success patterns that emerge. Below I have highlighted a few key components from studying the likes of Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Richard Branson and others. As I have said before, modeling success is the quickest way to achieving your goals. Read on, learn and put these best practices into action.
- A clear vision and sense of purpose – there is something to be said about having a clear vision and a great sense of purpose. Take Oprah as an example, she was transparent about her vision of a different kind of talk show. She was never guarded about her desire to create positive change in the world by empowering women. In fact, many people told her she would not succeed in fulfilling her vision, yet she has more than fulfilled her vision and purpose. I have seen the power of setting a clear vision and having a sense of purpose. It is unyielding and those that are driven by this clarity are quite unstoppable.
- A belief in yourself and your vision/purpose- having seen this first hand, when someone is fully aligned with their vision and purpose, they get out of their own way and their success seems meteoric. This belief in yourself and what you want to bring to the world is truly what keeps entrepreneurs going at times. No one said the journey of an entrepreneur is easy, in fact there are many bumps along the way and maintaining a strong belief in yourself and what you are meant to do propel you forward and through obstacles that may come your way.
- A group of supporters – imagine your journey from corporate to entrepreneur as traveling by boat from California to the Hawaiian Islands. As you leave California, all your friends on the shore are telling you not to go, that you are crazy, that you will never make it, that you might get lost along the way and lose everything. As you set sail all you can hear are those you are leaving behind and since you can’t see the islands yet, you begin to doubt yourself and your journey. You know the islands are there, because you’ve plotted out the course, however the journey is long and you can be faced with a ton of uncertainty on the way. Having supports becomes a necessity in reminding you of your vision and of the purpose that propels you forward.
- A great deal of curiosity – being curious about what is, instead of being rigid is another key component. Individuals who are extremely rule bound end up sabotaging themselves because they lack the ability to adapt emerging trends and changing circumstances. Perhaps this is why some businesses end up failing over time as they grow. They lose the ability to be curious and try different approaches to the work they do, and end up obsolete. In order to not end up obsolete before you begin, you need to challenge yourself and your thinking. Be open to others ideas especially if they are different than your own. I guarantee it will open up perspectives you never dreamed of.
- An ability to learn from mistakes- the key here is that mistakes will happen, don’t spend your time trying to avoid all mistakes because that will just keep you stuck. Also, as you make mistakes take time to learn from them. What worked, what didn’t work and why? Also, learn from others and the mistakes they made. Whether its people just like you or reading autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs, there are great lessons to be learned by what they did wrong as with what they did right.
Remember taking action is the underlying characteristic of the successful entrepreneur. Of the above best practices what do you need to work on in order to continue on your path to entrepreneurship? Make a note of it and any action steps you need to take to make it happen. There’s no time like the present, so get going!
When I dreamt of owning my own business I had visions of flexible work hours, projects that I got to decide whether I took or not and of working from anywhere there was wi-fi or good cell reception. Fast forward to a year and a half later and I have all those things, just not quiet in the way I imagined them.
I admit I am my own boss, but with that also come certain responsibilities like paying bills for the business. I need to understanding financial plans, hiring and firing staff, and keep up with legal requirements of having a business. And although I do get to decide what projects I take, I also have to go out and look for them. I have to network, market and sell my services. I needed to keep track of who might need my services and when. On some occasions I get to decide between two real plum projects; other times I need to pick between two less than desirable ones because I need the revenue stream.
Then there is the subject of having a flexible schedule. That too has taken a slightly different feel than what I had in mind. With my father’s illness I’ve discovered that hospitals have pretty good wi-fi. That cell phones can be used in the lobby (even if they don’t want you to) and although I do little work while shuttling between one doctors office and another, at least I have the flexibility to decide when and where I work.
So although owning my own business doesn’t quite look like I thought it would, I am grateful I took the plunge when I did. It has challenged me to my very core and I feel that I have persevered. Yes, things are getting a little easier and my world is not as bad as it initially felt. There are still times when I wonder if I did the right thing in leaving Corporate America, however those moments are fleeting and end up reaffirming my decision. I guess that’s what they mean by, “when your doing what you love it doesn’t feel like work”. Glad to know some things hold true .
Would you like to know the number one skill for entrepreneurs? Well it’s the same one that all CEO’s need – to understand the company P&L and Balance Sheet. Right about now some of you may be grumbling. Some may even be thinking that you are no good with numbers and that your dreams of being an entrepreneur are crushed. I ask that you not be so mellow dramatic and if you are freaking out, check out my post on how to deal with your inner critic then come back to this one.
The truth is you need to understand the numbers whether you plan on keeping your business at six figures or grow it to eight figures and beyond. In fact understanding the numbers is a key strategy employed by GE in its leadership academy. And you all know that there have been more CEO’s to come from GE than some of the top business schools combined! The numbers help you to fully understand and therefore influence things like, your margins, business cycle, purchasing trends, overall sales, expenditures and so on. In essence it gives you full control over your companies and therefore your own success.
So what’s the first step to understanding the numbers, if you are numbers challenged? Rest assured you do not have to go back and get your MBA. In fact the easiest way is to start by pulling out the spreadsheet or Quickbooks report and look at the basics, profit and loss. Look at where all the money comes from, when it comes in and where it all goes. If you are really intimidated enlist the help of your CPA or bookkeeper, they love numbers. Ultimately, you need to grow comfortable looking at, working with and understanding those numbers – regardless of their size.
It’s time to face the numbers. Go, pull those reports and start studying!
All entrepreneurs will agree that the best investments are those in education and solid partnerships. When you have great mentors and strong business relationships, it can make the difference between making or breaking your company.
The problem is you can get sucked in to working with someone that isn’t the right fit if you are not careful. You can end up working with someone who over promises and under delivers, costing you tens of thousands of dollars. I’m a glass half full sort of gal, and when I’ve ended up in this situation (which I’ve had a few) I ask myself, “What lesson did I learn?” and “How can I avoid getting sucked in next time?” But really, deep down, all I want to know is, “How can I avoid getting suckered, in the first place?”
Check out the questions I now ask, that save me time, energy and money.
- What specifically are you delivering? – This is really a way for you to get clear about the brass tacks. Often times you are given the high level outcomes, but no specifics. This is your opportunity to find out the details and make sure they are aligned with what you need.
- What key successes have you had in your business and in what timeframe? – I think this is especially important when talking to mentors, but also quite useful with business partners. Even when I was in the corporate world, I always trusted someone who had actual results versus potential results.
- Who can I talk to that is not part of your team that would act as a reference? – Just as you would interview someone for a job, ask for references. There is no shame in this and don’t let someone just point you to testimonials on a web page. Talk to a real person and one that is not on their payroll in some way.
This is where I say, your corporate experience will help you out! Remember how you used behavioral interviewing when bringing someone new into the group. It’s the same thing with business partners and mentors as an entrepreneur. They may have different labels, but they are still team members, so treat them as such.
I have a formula for what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and it goes like this:
Success = Mindset + Know How
Seems obvious right? The trick here is how much is “mindset” and how much is “know how”. In my experience it’s like this:
90% – mindset
10% – know how
So what does this mean? Well you need to train yourself to think like an entrepreneur. When we are in the corporate world we tend to see things very myopically. We are trained to live in a small fenced in area rarely questioning what lies beyond. When we are told that outside our fenced in area there is hardship, pain and no stability, we don’t question it, we just accept it to be true.
Now here is where your mind takes over to further reinforce your reality. Your subconscious mind will always hold you to be correct. So if you say that the area outside the fence is full of hardship, pain and holds no stability, then it will take in only information that proves that to be true. In essence you are giving yourself a command to prove you right about what you believe.
The way to destroy the fence and see what’s out there is to explore the world beyond the fence. It doesn’t mean jump ship without a plan, it’s about finding out who else had success as an entrepreneur and find out what they did to make it happen. You are then training your brain to push past old ways of thinking.
Go out and bust a few fences, it’s a ton of fun!