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Deeper Dive

I’m going through a bit of a business dilemma right now.

When you coach yourself, you get a different perspective.

I’m going through a bit of a business dilemma right now.

This has been compounded with the fact that my whole family has been sick for the past few days, which means no sleep for Daddy (or Mommy for that matter). Of course, things look a lot worse when you haven’t slept and start thinking about them at 3 AM lying on the couch listening for signs of a crying toddler.

I decided to do something different this morning though.

I decided to ask better questions.

With better questions comes better clarity.

Here are the questions I asked:

Can this work the way it is now?

How can this work?

Am I getting out of this what I want, or am I just being nice to make others happy?

Will this work if ___________? (fill in the option)

If I were to step out of the situation and were to serve as a coach, to someone else, what advice would I give?

In the end, the answers to these questions provided me with the insight I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The best part about it… it was easy.

You can apply this flow to your business, your relationships, or just about any other situation you’re in.

Who do you want more of in your life?

Birds of a feather flock together
So chose your friends wisely.

This was on the wall of my 6th-grade classroom and I feel it’s just as important today as it was then.

Who do you find yourself spending time with that you should let go of?

Where do you go to have conversations that matter?

Who do you want more of in your life?

What groups do you visit regularly online to provide you stimulus and growth?

These are important questions to ask yourself.

Looking for support, let me know and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

What does your calendar say about your priorities?

I used to stay up late grinding it out for work…
I used to stay up late grinding it out to look good…
I used to stay up late to show that I was the best…

Now, I stay up late to hold my son when he’s sick.

I had my priorities out of whack.
I followed the wrong path.

Luckily I figured that out before my son came into this world.

What are your priorities?

Not sure? Then just look at your calendar. Every minute gets a vote.

What does your calendar say about your priorities?

calendar priorities

“I get angry and pull away”

“I get angry and pull away.”

“Go talk to Doug,” said one of the other coaches.

At this point, I was standing in front of a businessman, in his 30’s, who was filled with guilt and shame. You could see it on his face. He had a hard time telling me what was going on.

“You see Doug, I’m so embarrassed saying this because my wife is the most amazing woman in the world. I love her so much… but… when we don’t have sex for several days, I find myself getting angry and pulling away from her. She doesn’t deserve that. What’s wrong with me?”

This man commanded a very successful business, had three small children, and here he stood before me ashamed for the way he was feeling.

What he didn’t know was that this was very common. After working with thousands of people over the years, I’d even call this the norm, though the number of days can be different for each person.

“Let me guess – you haven’t been interment with your wife for several days, and with each day you feel that you’re less and less connected. You walk around your house feeling more like roommates than lovers. Small problems start to seem large and cause arguments or at least more distance. You still love each other, but there’s a void coming between you. Is that right?”

His face lit up, and he replied loudly “YES! Am I wrong? I feel terrible. I shouldn’t feel this way.”

I smiled. I smiled because it was awesome to see how much love he had for his wife. I smiled because he was about to get some freedom from his guilt by finding out that what he was feeling was merely the usual order of things…

…I smiled because we all do this in different ways in all areas of our lives.

When a feeling inside of us bubbles up to the surface, or just below the surface, and we feel shame around that feeling, we start to create a story. A false narrative usually. A story with a lot of “shoulds” and “should nots” in it.

That story grows bigger and bigger until it weighs us down like a warm wet wool blanket [as one of my client’s accurately described it].

When the word “should” comes up in your languaging, it’s a good time to realize that you’re judging. You’re either judging yourself, or someone else, and thus making them wrong.

“I should make more money.”

“I shouldn’t be this fat.”

“I should wake up at 4:30 AM to meditate.”

What you’re really saying in all the above is that you’re wrong and not good enough. This certainly won’t help you.

When we apply this level of judgment to ourselves, it seems to snowball and grow. More than that, it spills over to other areas of our lives.

It might start with the way we look, then roll over into not feeling good enough in business, then perhaps at home… or in bed.

This is an all too common occurrence and catching it early is the key.

Here are three things you can do today:

  1. Catch Yourself. Catch yourself when you use the word “should” and replace it with “get to,” “could,” or “possibly.” This small shift will have a large impact on you, and those around you, over time.
  2. Make a list of your “shoulds.” Where did they come from? Where did you get that belief?
  3. Take a look at your above list of “shoulds” and highlight those that serve you – that make you a better person by positively pulling you towards your dreams with flow and ease. Take the others and get rid of them. They’re just made up stories anyway, so you might as well delete them. If you don’t find that easy, let me know, and I’ll help you or point you in the direction of a coach that can.

You should smile now because you’re doing a fantastic job… or don’t smile. The choice is yours. 😎

Shipping off to war.

Shipping off to war.

I’ve never done it, but after talking to friends of mine that have, they’ve told me what I’ve suspected – they get their affairs in order before departing.

They don’t know if they’re coming back or not.

They take the time to tell each family member that they love them – not casually, but from the heart.

They make sure to tie up any loose ends in their life and those that have businesses of their own, they make sure that their staff knows what to do without them. They make sure they’re not the stopping block in the process.

What if we lived each day in this manner? Not with the fear of dying, but with the sense of urgency to make sure each day our affairs are in order?

What would life look like?

How would you talk to your loved ones?

How would you prepare your employees to run the business without you?

If you weren’t sure you’d be back tomorrow, would you let petty issues and comments get to you? Or, would you just let things roll off your back?

Take a moment to write down how you’d live today if you weren’t sure or not if/when you were coming back.

This process will help you get clarity around your priorities.

The next step is to put that clarity into action.

Let those around you know how much you love and appreciate them.

Don’t sweat the small stuff… and remember, it’s all small stuff.

Live your own story.

What do you stand for?

What do you stand for?

As the saying goes, if you don’t stand for anything, then you’ll fall for everything.

It’s 5:30 AM as I write this down… everyone in the house is asleep.

I’m not in my home; I’m in someone else’s.

For the next several days, I’ll be staying at an estate in the lakes region of New Hampshire where I’ll be co-leading a conference for business leaders who have traveled from all over the world to be here.

When my fellow coaches arrived, we were excited to see each other. We shared laughs, told stories, and cracked a few beers. The energy was amazing, and the temptation to stay up, have some more drinks and laughs was certainly in the air.

Like a wave washing over me, I got up from my comfortable chair and started prepping for my morning routine. I prepped for bed. It was 9 PM.

I knew that others might judge me for turning in early when the night had just begun, but I also knew what I stood for – and I needed to be fully ready and present in the morning. It was a commitment I had made… to myself.

It wasn’t long ago that I would have stayed up, had a few more drinks with rest of the crew, slept in, and felt like crap the next day until the third cup of coffee kicked in and I would start to feel normal again.

That was then…

… this is now.

Today I stand for something greater than myself. I have a set of values that I allow to guide my choices in my life. I have a family to protect and honor.

This is no longer just about me, though in serving myself to the highest level, it somehow works out for the everyone’s best interest.

These values are written down, and the more I revisit them, the more I live them.

I’m far from perfect – I need to do the reps, but the more I do them, the easier the “work” becomes. It’s reflexive rather than retrospective.

Here are 3 things you can do today to make sure you’re standing for what’s best for you and not “falling for everything.”

  1. Write Them Down. Grab your journal, or a notebook, and go to a place where you won’t be bothered. Write down what you stand for in this format: I stand for…
    Keep writing until you can’t think of anything more. I also encourage you to write what you stand for (in the positive) rather than what you stand against. So, instead of saying, I stand against racism, you can write, I stand for treating each person with love and integrity regardless of race, religion, or gender.

  2. Boil Them Down. Take your list and chunk like items together. Can you boil those statements down into 1-3 key statements? We’re aiming for a list of roughly 10 things, or less, that you stand firmly for. We’re sorting out your values. I find that 10 items are easy to remember and recite.

  3. Do Your Reps. Read your list each day. I recommend reading the list at least 3 times each day: first thing in the morning, in the afternoon (I like after lunch), and right before bed. I use to post mine in my bathroom near the mirror – made it hard to miss since I brush my teeth at least twice a day.

The cool part of the story from last night that I didn’t share was that instead of judging me for going to be early, the coaches wished me a good night and they themselves chose to turn in early as well.

Like attracts like. When you know what you stand for, there’s a better chance of drawing like people into your life. If you look around today at the people in your life and you don’t like what you see, then perhaps it’s time to make a change yourself.

If I had a gun to your head and your life depended on getting to 48k by the end of January, what would you be doing differently?

“What’s the fastest and easiest way for us to get to our goal of 48k take-home each by January 31st?”

Said another way…

“If I had a gun to your head and your life depended on us getting to 48k by the end of January, what would we as a company be doing differently?”

This was the question I posed to him.

I waited for his response…

“I don’t like this, Doug.,” he said with a tone of disgust.

He then went on to list out the things that would need to happen in order to hit the mark. One by one, the answers appeared before my eyes on a Google doc he had shared with me.

I could see why he was upset…

…he now had clarity and didn’t like what he saw.

What needed to be done were the things that he was avoiding.

He was focusing on systems, training the team, and visioning… and he was spending a lot of time on all of these. To his credit, he was doing a great job… but they weren’t the right things and he was burning himself out doing them – hoping for a better tomorrow. Hoping that these would help him hit his goals.

When he mapped out what it would take to hit the goal, although important, none of what he was working on made the list. Not one of them.

This is the power of clarity.

We tend to have a habit of doing those things we enjoy…

…even to the detriment of those things we want.

Take my workouts for example. I love to lift weights, so when I go to the gym, that’s my focus. What my body could really use is some mobility work… and I do it… sometimes. I never miss the weights. Never.

When I write down my workouts and take a consultative approach (ie. if I hired me to write my own workout), then mobility work is on that list multiple times. I follow it. I get the results I want.

This level of clarity is the power of a good coach or mentor. They don’t tell you what to do – they ask empowering questions so you can get clear on the next steps.

I have no doubt that my friend will hit his 48k mark by the end of January if he sticks to his plan. In fact, I think he’ll hit it much sooner than that…

… as long as he retains the clarity.

What can you do to get more clear?

1. Hire a coach, mentor, or join a mastermind group. A good one will allow you to see the forest from the trees. A great one will give you the power of optics so you can see the playing field unfold before the game begins. It’s the best investment I’ve made, and I continue to invest more in this area myself every year.

2. Pick a goal. I like business goals for this, but you can pick another goal that seems like a stretch goal. Often, I’ll ask people to give me their 1-year goal.

3. Ask yourself the questions on the first few lines. What would you do if your life depended on achieving that goal in just two months?

4. Is the work worth the reward? When setting any stretch goal, I believe it’s important to assess whether the risk is worth the reward. For example, when I built my first marketing firm, I did so while owning two other companies. This required me to sacrifice my free time, friend time, and miss out on a lot of fun. But, when I built my consulting business, I chose to allow it to take longer so I wouldn’t miss out on any of those. Both were right. The choice is yours.

What will you achieve? I’d love to know. Drop me a note.

I’m afraid what others will think of me…

I’m afraid of failing…

I’m afraid what others will think of me…

I’m afraid what my wife will think of me…

I’m afraid what my son will think of his father who didn’t do all he set out to do…

What kind of example will I be to others if I fail?

I’m afraid of failing…

Most of us are, but we don’t talk about it because that would be taboo.

Our fears can control our thoughts, our actions, and our behaviors – consciously and unconsciously.

Yet, if we don’t identify those fears and accept them in order to let them go, then we’re simply walking through life like a drone – giving up our power to unconscious thoughts and ways of being… because we’re scared to face them.

Yup, I’m afraid of failing…

… but I know that, and it allows me to take risks in a big way and gives me power where it once drained me.

What are you afraid of?

Take control of your power and embrace your fears.

The good stuff in life tends to happen right outside our comfort zone… in the fear… and when we get there, we realize it was all made up in our heads anyway.

Here are 3 things you can do today:

1. Identify a fear that charges you up. A fear that you don’t want to mention out loud to a co-worker.

2. Do a fear inventory. This is step #4 in the 12-Step program in AA. It works. I do it differently as I’ve never been to AA and one of my coaches showed it to me. I’ll write up a more extended description if you want to see it (just let me know).

3. Share your fear. Once it’s out there, it can’t control you as much. This doesn’t mean it goes away, but you can flip the script and stop letting fear run the show. Stop being a victim to your fear and start writing your own story. You’re the author of your own story, so you might as well write a good one.

The one thing most people don’t do…

Long hours…
Long nights…
You’ve put in the work…
You’ve put in the time…

Then why are you at the same place you were when you started, but with nothing else to show for it than bags under your eyes and a path of self-destruction in your wake?

This is the typical story of the entrepreneur, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

It starts with a vision.
Your vision.

What is it that you really want? Have you sat down for half a day or more, thought about what you really want in life, and written it down?

Most haven’t.

The next step is to formulate a plan. How are you going to get there? A roadmap.

The plan doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a starting point.

You will zig, and you will zag along the journey. And if you are testing and retesting, adapting, and making changes, you will get there.

You may still work long hours with long nights, but in the end, you’ll have something to show for it.

It starts with a vision. What’s yours?

What if life were easy?

I recently had a coaching call with a man in his late 30’s who was looking to make a dramatic change in his business life. He didn’t want to just change jobs, but he wanted to create a business that works around his ideal lifestyle.

My sweet spot as a mentor.

When I asked him to tell me his “superpower” he replied: “I’m a hard worker. That’s my best skill and attribute. ”

When did working hard become a skill that sets someone apart from others striving to be successful? Did I miss a memo?

If working hard is your key selling point as to why you feel you should be successful, then you’ve got problems lurking around the corner.

Being able to work hard should be a bare minimum, something you just do as an entrepreneur, and not the way you separate yourself from the rest of the crowd.

I don’t know any successful business owner, athlete, or person in any walk of life that doesn’t work hard.

“But Doug, I work smart, not hard.”

Good for you! This is a great strategy provided your competition isn’t working at all or is mentally handicapped in some way.

Yes, you should work smart, but you should also work hard when launching your business. Working hard, and working smart, should be things you just do. They shouldn’t need to be talked about. This goes for your staff as well.

Clock in at 8:05 and clock out at 4:50…

… this won’t work for anyone looking for something other than average. This is the mindset of someone who is ok with being mediocre and if that’s you, that’s fine. Just stop reading now.

Did you know that Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, would walk around the gym and pick up the basketballs and put away people’s towels? It’s what champions do and to him, it wasn’t hard work.

What would life look like if your norm was doing those things that needed to get done rather than claiming it was hard work?

What would your business look like?

What would it look like if you were so passionate about what you were doing that working hard felt like simply doing those things that got you what you wanted out of life and not as much like work?

What if we stopped patting ourselves on the back for doing what needed to get done and instead, we celebrated doing the “and then some” moments?

What if, in reality, it was easy?

It is.

When I explained this to the man on the other end of the video, he broke down in tears. Not because he was sad, but because he was relieved.

He had carried around a story that wasn’t serving him. He had put himself in a box that wasn’t allowing him to get what he wanted out of life – he just didn’t know it.

What if, in reality, it was easy?

Here’s something you can do today:

Grab your journal, or a piece of paper, or open a doc, and answer this question: What would my life look like if it were easy? What would my business look like if it were easy?

Paint that picture clearly.

You’d pick up the phone and make those calls…

You’d wake up with more energy because the stress wouldn’t be there…

You’d give up that lame story of not knowing what to do…

You’d do those things in your business that move the needle first, not last…

What if it were easy?

It is.