Mindset is EVERYTHING when you venture out on your own. There are days I’ve wallowed in despair for no reason and days I’ve felt empowered seemingly with no reason. I’m a programmer by trade and have been conditioned to look for patterns. Usually, I’m looking for patterns of errors in systems in order to identify outlying features in a program or bugs. It’s this conditioning when put to use on myself that changed my life. Of course, I had some help identifying how to make this happen. (Thank you Tony Robbins and my good friend Matt Spangler..I’ll tell you these stories some other time).
It was January of 2012 when I hit the wall. I was working for a “businessman” (I use that term loosely) who sold himself to everyone as one thing but was the exact opposite in practice. I could go on and on about the insidious nature of this person, but instead, I’m going to tell you the positive changes that negative situation had on me. It was a profound experience in seeing the good in any situation. This sinister person actually taught me the most valuable lesson in mindset to date. While his desired results were greed based, he had an unwavering dedication to making money. The merits of how he got to his desired outcome and the amount of fulfillment he lacks in his life are questionable at best, but I’ve observed first hand the power of mental focus. Sprinkle that mental focus on the desired outcome with some positive reinforcement and a conscience and you have a winner.
Obviously, I stopped working with the sinister “businessman” when true colors came to light but I extracted a very key ingredient in life success from that experience. Mindset is EVERYTHING. Without mindset correctly set to your goals, you will likely hop from job to job, client to client, business to business wondering where your life is going or where it went.
I met Matt in 2009. We both worked for the sinister “businessman” and it was clear from day one we were cut from the same cloth. Matt is a successful businessman who also fell into the same trap I did. Much like me, Matt hit his wall with working in the business arrangement with sinister “businessman” and realize the current state of things was taking him further away from his desired result. Fast forward to today and Matt is a missionary in Honduras with his wife and kids. He is an internet marketing and tech consultant, like me, AND runs a full-time orphanage and mission. You can see his family’s story at https://www.legacyofhopefoundation.org/
Matt had a desired result he was after and aligned his mindset to accept no outcome other than that of the result he is now living. Even a setback in a failed partnership didn’t deter him from the result. If you want true inspiration and an example of a positive role-model, look up https://www.legacyofhopefoundation.org/ and read their story.
My story doesn’t involve mission work, but I do support Matt’s work in Honduras as well as Bolivia. My wife has traveled to Bolivia on mission work and soon we, as a family, are planning a trip to visit Matt and his family in Honduras as well as our sponsored family in Bolivia.
I got my start in consulting purely by accident. I hit a point in my corporate career where I couldn’t do the 8 to 5 gig in a life-sucking office anymore. I felt like Tom Hanks in Joe vs. The Volcano. (Look up the office scene on YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I fast forward 30 years in my mind and the thought of sitting in that cubicle 8 hours per day, 5 day a week until I’m nearly in the ground was depressing. I found myself asking the question, “Is this it?”. Thankfully it’s not.
Out of my frustration with corporate America, my consulting business was born! Yippee, I’m in business. I did pretty well for a 25-year-old kid with no business background in 2004. I landed my first major client and was off and rolling. Over the next 10 years I would fail and succeed, fail and succeed, but my the desired results I sought through all success and failure were freedom of time and location. I tell you that now as I sit at Panera on a Tuesday morning at 9:03am writing my sales copy for one of my new client offers. Pretty neat, huh?
Now that you know a bit more about me, let’s get into actions you can take right now to improve your outcomes, in my humble option.
Develop a clear picture of what you want in your mind.
Don’t overthink this part.
Blank your mind of the obligations and resist the urge to put filters on the “what I want” thoughts. It doesn’t have to relate to your job, the town you live in or anything about your circumstances.
This is an open question with no caveats. Answer this question, “What do I want?” Think of Matt’s story. Some possible question you could ask yourself are;
“Do I want to live somewhere else?”
“Do I want a different type of customer?”
“Do I want more money?”
“Do I want more time?”
Action 1 – Give yourself the best part of the day (Refactoring your daily routine.)
The is by far the most powerful first change you can make to your routine which will directly affect your ability to build your business, close clients and produce high-quality products, services, and content. Society has us conditioned to check email and social media every 5 seconds. This starts at the beginning of the day and continues all the way until the late hours just before we pass out for the day.
If this isn’t you, you’re a minority and I congratulate you on the restraint. If this sounds like you, you are among many friends. Information is pouring over phones, tablets, Chromebooks, smart watches, smart glasses, ad nauseam. People in movie theaters can’t even restrain checking gadgets long enough to enjoy a feature film. We’ve all seen “that guy” in the movie who ignores the message to silence your phone, no texting or talking aloud. Maybe you’ve been “that guy”. I’ll tell you now, it’s hurting your brain and your ability to focus.
The most productive period of my day is during the first four hours after waking. This usually means 2 to 2.5 hours of high producing, focused work. I can directly attribute my best thought based output to my morning block of focused time. It’s during this time that I write blog posts, prospect new customers, writing sales page copy and even write the content for this post.
Take the cream off the top for yourself. Get out of the habit of checking email first thing or working on client projects in the first part of your morning. Your business, and your clients are better served by focusing on profit-generating activities for your business. How does this server your clients you say? By focusing on your own business first, you have eliminated distracting thoughts about growing your business while working on clients projects. Thereby, increasing the output quality of your client projects. It’s a win/win.
Here are three simple rules you can live by that will increase your output daily without requiring more time. In truth, it will likely require less time.
Do NOT check email, social media, voicemail, Skype, instant messenger during the first four hours of the day.
Do NOT perform ANY client work during the first two work hours of the day.
Prioritize your highest profit producing activities during the first two hours of the day (sales copy, ad building, prospecting, proposals, etc).
Action 2 – Hangout with peers more successful than you.
“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Tony Robbins
This action is the easiest, in my opinion. If you desire continued growth in your career, physiology, spirituality or any other area you wish to improve, seek out role models current at the level you desire to play in. Hanging out with peers at your current level isn’t all bad, it can be validating in some areas but can silently keep you at mediocre levels. Business and personal growth does not happen in mediocrity.
This concept can be tough for the mind to sometimes grasp. Spending months or years as a friend, consultant, client, etc we naturally bond. It’s the human connection. It’s how we’re wired. The professionals who continue to strive for next level relationships are able to identify this stagnation and encourage the collective to seek the next level or transition independently. Seeking next level connection and maintaining current connections are not mutual exclusive. If you leap to a new level by continually seeking growth you will invariably pull peers up the ranks in your wake.
Find local MeetUp gatherings in an ideal circle and go. Be social, be clear, be direct. The most respected and revered businessmen in society are clear and direct about what they want out of any given situation. Model them. It helps to ask yourself this question, “What do I want from this meeting, phone call, webinar, Skype call or email campaign?” The mind will go to work finding solutions when a clear desired outcome is established.
Action 3 – Less Analyzing, More Doing.
The world is overrun with complexity. We can communicate with people across the globe for next to nothing. This miraculous feat was very expensive not too long ago. My father in law within the Marine Corp years ago and told me about the brief, $75 phone call he had with my mother-in-law between Japan and the US…and this was 1980. That’s an expensive chat. Image how much a conference call would’ve cost in those days.
Now we are able to conference with professional from every country on the planet for pennies per call if not totally free. With this great advancement in technology brings a subconscious shift in our thinking. The world is complex, so our thinking must be complex.
Don’t believe me?
How many people do you know who take a pill for anxiety and sleeping disorders?
How many ADHD, OCD people have you come in contact within the past several years? It’s a pandemic. This increase in focus disorders aligns with the timing of incredible advances in technology and our increasing mediums of instant connection; Skype, Facebook, Twitter, FaceTime, etc. I’m not Ph.D. in any of the mentioned disorders, but it’s easy to see a connection between the increased connectedness and difficulties with sleep patterns and focus issues.
This all coincides with the biggest issue in businesses today….overthinking. Focus is defined as a main purpose. Society bombards us with interruption after interruption, severely impacting our ability to focus on an end result and achieve that end result. How many times have you been in the middle of a promising idea, productive meeting, deep conversation or meditation when the phone goes off or the computer beeps with new email or a Skype call comes in? What does it do? It completely throws us out of focus. Studies show it takes at least 10 minutes to get back our concentration. Consider how many interruptions we have each day and multiply that by 10 or 15. I call this focus loss.
Focus Loss Minutes = # of interruptions X 10
I don’t need to spell out how quickly your finite mental focus can be chipped away 10 minutes at a time. You’ll find at least 1 hour per day (likely more) is being stolen from you every single work day. 5 hours per week. 20 hours per month…minimum!
Now that I’ve painted the pleasant picture for you, let me give you the solution. Simple thinking. As the complexity of the world increases, we veer into over-thinking daily. It’s a byproduct of the magnificent advances in technology over the past 20 years with the commercialization of the internet. Mulling things over in your head ad nauseam is pervasive in today’s society with studies showing up to 75% of 25-35 years olds identified as over thinkers. This mulling leads to analysis paralysis and inaction as a result.
The simple formula for success is this.
Massive Action + Result Focused Outcome = Success
Maintain focus on a desired outcome, add in a massive action plan and you will find success every time. Overthinking is the antithesis of focus. I see this all the time when prospecting new clients. They will show a desire for my solution, but when the time comes to take the action to move forward they overthink the process, take weeks to decide (if they ever do) and by then usually miss the opportunity to work with me and grow their business. It’s heartbreaking to see. A business owner is experiencing stagnant growth and they mull solutions to the point of inaction and mediocrity in their business. Usually, the fear of making a bad decision takes over and causes no decision to be made at all, which is worse! Better to have made a bad decision you can correct than no decision at all.
Eliminate distractions early and take the first part of the day for yourself. This sets the foundation for focused time and stacks the odds in your favor for focused out