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In a recent meeting I was talking with my interlocutor about coaching entrepreneurs, and he said something that resonated with me: "the problem with business owners is that they constantly run after the clock". I could not agree more.
I see it with people around me and my clients all the time. In fact, one of the reasons my customers hire my services as a Business Coach is to force them to slow down and dedicate time to reflect. Business owners often have their heads stuck so much into day-to-day operation - where decisions are plenty and need to happen fast - that they are drown into it, like they would be drown into water. And they forget to come back to the surface and breath.
Breathing is thinking. All business owners, regardless of how long they have had their businesses for, face that same challenge at one point. Thinking is part of your job, and you must make time for it: to design your strategy, prepare ahead of specific situations, solve a problem, or simply meditate.
A great method I found comes from Timothy Gallwey’s book The Inner Game of Work. Timothy is one of the founders of modern coaching. He has developed a very simple tool called S.T.O.P:
This approach will help you remain conscious while working. You can watch my video Are You Asking The Right Questions? for more on that subject.
What can you do to force yourself to stop and think:
Make it a habit to think.
PS: Hiring a coach is also a great way to stop and reflect. Book a time with me so we can discuss about how you can think more strategically.
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Your responsibilities as Business Owners encompass defining the strategy as well as growing your people: recruit them, empower them, train them, and ultimately make them the best they can become.
On top of what is already a full-time job comes other tasks that can quickly accumulate, especially since a typical day at work include so many interruptions. If you are not careful enough, you can get easily distracted and deviate from what you are supposed to be doing.
In order to stay on track with your work, you must define rules for yourself. They require discipline, that is a great reason why you need to set up rules. They will also help you make better decisions, improve your efficiency, and create a sense of fairness among your team.
Such rules can be practical - e.g. everybody must come on time or I will isolate myself everyday from 1pm to 2pm, or more intangible - e.g. no staff will be blamed in public or I will encourage everyone to talk solutions rather than problems.
There are many rules as you'd like to have. Be cautious though, rules about the rules must apply:
To begin the process, ask yourself the following question : What are my uncompromising leadership principles?
PS: What leader would you like to be? Let's get in touch and discuss how I can help you remove the road blocks along the way.
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Entrepreneurs can find themselves stuck into cycles where they have a lot on their plates, and are not able to move forward - they are just treading water. All the tasks on the agenda coupled with the critical decisions to make can generate overwhelming situations without being able to see the light out of the tunnel.
Amelia Earhart, the American aviation pioneer said: “The most effective way to do it - is to do it.” She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, so I guess her quote stands true.
We often get confused between being busy and getting things done. The best way to experience what I am talking about is to imagine a day when you come home after work with a clear sense of achievement. On that particular day, you get things done. On the other days, you are busy doing stuff.
The issue lies with planning: getting things done requires a plan. Lack of planning will increase stress and result in losing control.
The solution is simple: spend time planning ahead. I'd like to share an efficient model:
Embark on a journey you have control upon: Start with proper planning.
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A common difficulty that business owners face is finding clarity of purpose.
Many underestimate the need for a strategy, and put their businesses at risk. Watch this video to use the 5 key elements an efficient business strategy is comprised of.
Would you rather drive your business blindfolded, or craft the most efficient strategy for it?
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Given a choice, human beings often choose the easiest option. We tend to go for the instant reward or gratification instead of taking a more difficult long-term road. If you are a master procrastinator, I recommend to watch this TED talk by Tim Urban.
It makes sense: why would we take a more complex direction, especially if we are going to experience discomfort along the way? Why would we want to suffer?
"Be the change you want to see in the world" said Gandhi. The truth is profound change will be mentally or physically painful. So instead of resisting it, embrace the pain: it is a sign that you are actually moving into the right direction.
Discipline, day-by-day, month-by-month, one small step after the other, is the tool that will get you through the change process. Do not listen to the voice in your head that says you can't do this: it is lying.
Here are 3 steps you can take to be more disciplined:
PS: The underlying purpose of coaching is to build confidence and show you that your goals can be reached. You are ready to start a conversation? Then book a time with me, and we will discuss how success looks like for you.
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The holiday season is upon us. It is not too late to treat yourself, and your team, with a nice end-of-the year gift, and start 2020 on the right foot.
Below are my book recommendations:
Next books on my reading list: This is Marketing by Seth Godin, The Chimp Paradox by Dr. Steve Peters, and Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman.
Take care of yourself
As a CrossFit addict and a CF-L1 Trainer, I must emphasize the importance of exercising regularly. Being healthy and in good physical shape will significantly improve your efficiency at work and at home.
I was not really taking care of myself before I found this sport. It has transformed my life, to the point where I know I am not going back to the previous me. I feel stronger, I am more relaxed, I think sharper, and I work faster.
There is no age to be the fittest version of yourself.
Stop procrastinating and buy yourself a membership for the most suitable physical activity for you, something you can perform minimum 3 times per week. It should not feel like a burden. Instead, it should be the moment to be with yourself, forget everything else, and simply enjoy the challenge.
The secret weapon
I will conclude by the best gift you can reward yourself with: A notebook and a pen! Entrepreneurs' minds are always full of ideas and things to do. Go back to the basics: write them down to get them out of your brain, archive them, and free up mental space for new stuff.
Enjoy the holiday season!
PS: Of course business coaching is an excellent gift to put yourself on the right tracks for the new year. Training courses, in Leadership for example, are a nice way to reward your team while improving their skills. Book a time with me to talk further about it.
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One of my first entrepreneur clients had reached a point where his company was stuck because of a lack of qualified people. Money was no issue, but he was too much involved in operations to take a step back and see the situation. He loved project management and could not resolve to give it up because he thought the customer service quality would suffer.
Both business owners had attained some sort of a plateau, where action was required to start a new growth cycle. They needed a plan, which they could not come up with because they were overwhelmed with day-to-day operations.
Do their stories sound familiar to you?
Entrepreneurs usually have to do everything at the early business stages, and do not necessarily realize that their responsibilities must evolve with growth. Focusing on quality is important, but having a solid structure where people will strive for even better quality is essential. There comes a time where entrepreneurs' role has to switch from doing the work by themselves to building the business under them to do the work. By not letting go, entrepreneurs may become the main bottleneck of their own companies.
I'd like to suggest 3 options to tackle that challenge:
PS: Ready to talk about coaching? Book a time with me and tell me about your issues.
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20 years of working in business management has taught me the importance of mapping out the company’s journey. ⅔ of that time spent in the market research industry has provided me with one key tool: asking questions. Successful entrepreneurs understand their weaknesses and acknowledge they don’t know everything. They know that with the right questions comes the right answers.
Often, we get stuck in a situation because we aren’t asking ourselves the questions that lead to the right answers. This video will provide you with 4 practical steps to help you think clearly and ask the right questions in any situation.
So, are you asking the right questions?
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I am sure you have heard the saying “the shoemaker’s son has no shoes”. That is because shoemakers dedicate their time to repair their customer’s shoes and neglect their own children’s. I have the feeling that the same saying can be applied to the coaching industry: we spend so much time providing clarity to our clients that we forget to clarify what we do. This situation can lead to misunderstandings about what coaching stands for.
A Definition of Coaching
The best definition of coaching I know comes from Timothy W. Gallwey, the author of The Inner Game: “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”
Coaching, regardless of the specialty, focuses on the individuals. It assumes that people already have the answers in them, but sometimes need external help to dig them out. Coaches recognize that the internal obstacles are stronger than the external ones, facilitate the removal of such internal obstacles, and provide guidance to implement remedial actions.
3 Skills Great Coaches Must Hone
Coaching requires a set of specific skills. Below are what I consider the 3 most important ones.
The 4 Phases of Coaching
The coaching process can be divided into 4 stages:
What can you expect from being coached?
Coaches are not advisors, lecturers, teachers or consultants. They act as mirrors, sounding boards or facilitators. If you are hesitating whether you should hire a coach or not, consider the following benefits coaching can provide you with:
We are always better than what we think we are. Coaches help find the way.
PS: Ready to try coaching and see the results by yourself? Then book a free Coaching Discovery Session with me.
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Joakim Achrén is the founder of Elite Game Developers. His passion is to help people build successful games companies. He has been a game's entrepreneur for 15 years, previously founded Next Games, Ironstar Helsinki, and he was an early employee at Supercell.
In his podcast, we discussed tactical and philosophical topics, everything that goes into leadership, company culture, values and taking care of oneself. We also explored why we both believe that CEOs, taking the game industry as an example, should all hire a Business Coach.
Questions that we cover in this episode:
Listen to the podcast now.