My 11-year-old interrupted me around 3:30 on a Friday afternoon toward the end of what had been a super busy week. He was done with online school and wanted me to go with him to take the dog over to the park.
With him standing there and emails steadily flowing into my inbox, I had to make one of the most important business decisions I’d faced all week.
While we often focus on the big decisions, what I’ve seen over these past few months is that our success is determined more by the small decisions we make on a daily basis about how we structure our days and spend our time. Last year came at us like a flood. As soon as you got your footing, another wave came. It exposed weaknesses like nothing I’ve seen before. The people and the companies who survived and thrived through the turmoil of the pandemic were those who could roll with the punches.
Resiliency in business doesn’t just happen. It takes work to become someone who creates opportunities through adversity. This may be a surprise, but it’s about how we handle life as much as how we handle business. Let’s take a closer look at that.
Don’t just wing it
Preparation is key. When I was younger, my boxing coach would always remind me that the battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought. I learned later that was a famous quote by Sun Tzu, and it’s stuck with me.
I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict the future. But I can still plan. Look ahead at what you want to accomplish and work backward to figure out what you want to have in place and when. Will it work out exactly the way you predict? Not likely. And, based on last year, things may be radically different from what we anticipate. But those who had a plan were in a better position to make adjustments.
It’s like when you make a map for a road trip. You look at all the routes and pick the best one. But then you head out and there’s a roadblock. Do you just turn around and go home? Of course not. You find a different route. But it’s easier because you’ve already looked at the alternatives.
Find your footing
One day, I was dropping the kids off at school and heading to the office. The next I was on lockdown trying to keep those kids busy while juggling conference calls. I’ll be the first to admit that there was some floundering. And certainly some loss of productivity, at least in the beginning.
I quickly realized I had to take charge of my days before the days took charge of me. But how?
Another trick I learned from sports. Look down. Where are your feet? Get them under you. You’ve got to get grounded. For me, that grounding comes through routines.
We do better when there’s structure, especially when we’re super busy or things are especially unpredictable. When you have routines, you know what to do next without having to think about it. I’ve heard people say routines make life boring. I say it’s the opposite. Routines give you more brain space and make room for the good stuff.
Routines can also help with balance in your life as you include all aspects. I build in family, personal, and work responsibilities. Each day is a little different but includes all of those. It takes a little experimenting to figure out what works. And, I’ve learned to be flexible, adapting the routines as needed.
Take care of you
When it comes to business growth, we talk a lot about strategy, operations, and marketing. But behind all of that, you need to have a clear mind to make good decisions. Being in business is stressful. No doubt there’s added anxiety when everything is shifting and out of your control. Those times are when it’s most important to take care of yourself.
Self-awareness is a game-changer. Take a look at what’s going on in your head, an honest look. Don’t just think about what’s going wrong, make note of what’s going right. And, take into account your situation and how that’s impacting you. It’s about understanding how you’re managing and what can throw you off balance. That helps you determine what to do next.
Right along with being self-aware is making sure to do things that bring you happiness and joy. It’s so easy to make excuses and ignore your own needs. Yes, you have to keep the business going. Yes, you need to be productive. But I’ll bring it back to balance. We have a mantra in our company, “work hard, play hard.” It’s a reminder that while work is important, so is the rest of your life. Remember why you do what you do.
If you can maintain that balance, you will do better in your life and in your business.
So when my son says, “let’s go,” it’s an easy answer. Yes, there’s work to be done, and that work will be there when I get back.