The way you dry your toes can predict your success in business.
I find it just fascinating how so many business lessons can be learned from seemingly mundane activities – if you’re willing to pay attention.
Unfortunately, I don’t always pay attention if the Universe tries to subtly teach me something; a two-by-four is usually required. Case in point: I was falling out of love with my last business, in which I created business-networking strategies for my clients. The frustrating part was that I wasn’t sure in what new direction I wanted to move. Since I lacked clarity and thus wasn’t prepared to make a change, I tried to convince myself that I was just going through a slow time and that I really was doing the work I was supposed to be doing.
During this period of uncertainty, I was invited to speak to my favorite networking group on one of my old standard networking topics. The Cosmic Two-by-Four struck when I arrived at the event: While this organization often has upwards of 40 people pre-registered for its events, I saw there were only 15 chairs set up for my talk.
As it turned out, that was a great day for a number of reasons:
- I provided high-value content for the people who actually did attend, for which they voiced their enthusiastic appreciation.
- I realized I was getting some really clear messages that I got to do whatever work was necessary to find out what was next in my life.
- I had a very powerful and energizing experience of re-framing a seemingly negative situation. Although my first reaction to the skimpy seating was pretty negative (Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, might as well eat worms…), within seconds I saw it as a helpful tool to get myself off dead center and leave behind what was no longer working.
I’m coming to believe deeply—and act consistently on the belief—that we’re more powerful than we might have imagined, and that any of us (including me) can choose to create particular results in life. When my little fearful voice pipes up, I get to view it as a sign that I’m stepping into something bigger and better. I get to remind myself that, contrary to this voice’s propaganda, discomfort is not the end of the world and I can survive moving through it. I get to practice not resisting that internal saboteur, but simply acknowledging it—“Thank you for sharing!”—and moving on. I get to choose to focus on a perspective of abundance, rather than one of scarcity. I get to keep my eyes on the prize, rather than the often-rocky road to it.
So I took action. I attended an all-day business mastery workshop led by Cari Vollmer, which led to a powerful one-on-one intensive coaching session with her, which ultimately led me to identify my mission this time around: to free the big people trapped behind small thoughts and small actions. I’ve chosen do this by showing my clients how to move from big ideas to big actions to big results.
While many business professionals have their own compelling missions and goals, it’s not just enough to have that goal; you also get to be committed to achieving it. Here’s where the toes come in. (C’mon, work with me. )
Imagine you’ve just walked out of the surf in Bali. You want to dry your feet before slipping them into your sandals, so you balance on one foot while trying to dry the other. However, you’re so focused on not falling over that you wiggle and wobble and end up stepping on your almost-dry foot to stay upright.
This same thing happens in business when we focus on obstacles rather than outcomes. An obstacle, by definition, hinders us from achieving something desirable. The more we focus on the difficulty, the larger it looms. In metaphysical (that is, woo-woo) terms: Whatever we give our attention to, expands.
Dealing with obstacles can be uncomfortable; that’s the price of achieving goals. You could stay safe within your comfort zone, but are you willing to settle for mediocre results just to avoid some temporary discomfort? As abundance coach Teresa Romain says, “Would you rather be comfortable, or prosperous?” This choice of viewpoint is critically important as you’re facing the inevitable discomfort that comes with stepping onto a bigger playing field.
And, yes, I do speak from personal experience. When I focus on “not losing my balance” before slipping into those beach sandals, I almost inevitably do lose it; when I focus on “drying my toes”, my wobbliness disappears, because “losing my balance” is no longer the focus of my attention.
Several months ago, when I realized how rock-steady I was when concentrating on the goal (drying my toes), I got a whap with yet another Cosmic Two-by-Four: When it comes to growing my business, my focus creates my results. If I focus on the uncomfortable steps needed to accomplish a desired outcome, I typically bring my progress to a screeching halt. If, on the other hand, I keep my attention and my energy focused on what I’ll gain as a result of doing the work, it’s way easier to power through the discomfort.
So…What sort of choices are you making? Do you opt to focus on what’s hard, or do you choose to keep your eyes on what’s waiting for you on the other side of discomfort? Do you disparage your efforts, or do you acknowledge and celebrate all your steps toward the goal? Do you insist on doing things “perfectly”, or do you know that “good” really is good enough? Do you opt to be comfortable and stay small, or do you do whatever it takes to create a bigger future for yourself? The choice is always yours.
P.S. – Thanks to somjuan and lindyi for their photos of the boards and toes, respectively. I found both on Flickr.
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