By Brian Mitchell, CEO & Managing Partner
It’s been a good year so far. Frankly it’s been a really good multi-year run with no indication of opportunity slowing down. So what am I complaining about, right? Sometimes when business and vocation are going really well, it can ironically and indirectly lead to a fade in momentum. People, including extremely successful people, sometimes find themselves in “coast periods”. A coast period is when they’re coasting through and can become distracted and diverted from the very focus that initially created their current success. Success is seemingly coming easier, on the groundswell that we built for ourselves months or possibly years before. So we work incredibly hard and then we reap the benefit of the momentum we created for ourselves – what’s wrong with that? I’ll shed some light from my filtered perspective.
Rory McIlroy had won four straight professional golf events as I’m writing this including two majors. Four straight events including two majors! The guy is clearly mega-talented and just a beast when he’s focused. A couple of years ago, everyone was pronouncing him the “next Tiger Woods” after he won his first major, the US Open at Congressional. He won another major and a couple other events, but then he started slipping. He missed several cuts and wasn’t winning events. Not that we truly know what goes on in celebrity athletes’ lives, but he had a ton going on – broke up with his long-time girlfriend and started dating a professional tennis player which took him all over the world supporting her; doing lots of commercials; investing in other business opportunities; etc. Great problems, right? He’s recently acknowledged that he wasn’t practicing very frequently nor even thinking about his golf game during the slide. Before his recent resurgence to golf dominance, he split with his tennis player fiancée, told his handlers to manage anything non-golf related, and he dedicated himself to getting back to that all-consuming focus on golf excellence and winning. His regained success is no coincidence.
Every successful entrepreneur speaks to the tough grinding hours they put in getting their start-up off the ground, pivoting a business model, scaling from X to Xx3 and again. And they love that they put in the blood, sweat, and tears effort. They had an all-consuming focus on their business and ensuring success. It worked. It sharpened them as professionals. It led to success. Like McIlroy demonstrated, it’s up to each of us to have enough self-awareness to recognize when we are coasting on previous success. Should we stop and enjoy the fruits of our labor along the way? ABSOLUTELY, but we need to keep the momentum going. The law of momentum is that it’s much easier to start and keep going then to start, stop, then start again. It’s often not the work itself that is so difficult, but the discipline to do the work that we ourselves make difficult.
So if you’re succeeding, but know you’re leaving a lot on the table and possibly getting a little lazy, take an honest look at your activities and daily discipline. What were you doing when you were scaling your current business that you’re not doing now? Our businesses evolve and we with them, but those fundamentals might be the best things to put back in practice. A few examples:
- Plan your day the night before. Come in with a state of prepared readiness and you’ll be much more efficient.
- Knock out the most difficult tasks first everyday – the burden off your shoulder is a form of freedom and enables greater productivity elsewhere.
- Eliminate distractions and time wasters – do you really need to answer your phone RIGHT NOW? Is opening up that email RIGHT NOW vital? How about Facebook and your text messages, how critical are those? Turn them off and check them a couple planned times each day….you’ll be amazed what you’re not missing.
- Keep your energy up. If you can, stand while you’re in your office, pace around, stand on your toes and exercise your calf muscles. Stretch. Eat at your desk before or after your lunch window and go for a run or a quick workout during your lunch window. Physical exercise is the sort of positive diversion that strengthens your cognitive ability and enables more mental stamina.
- Keep reminding yourself of your “why” – why you’re working so hard, your goals and objectives. Never lose sight of these goals and why they are important to you. Keep them written and in sight.
None of these ideas are new and that’s the beauty – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to put that known wheel in accelerated motion. It doesn’t matter if these are common sense; it matters if it is common practice. What are two habits that previously helped you succeed, but you’re not currently doing? Make it happen.