Mar2014
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Zen Now!

A couple weeks ago I was cleaning off my desk a bit more rigorously than usual since it was staging time for selling our home. As one corner emerged from its long burial under miscellania, two books remained. The book on top: being zen (Bayda); on the bottom: GET CLIENTS NOW! (Hayden). And yes, that’s how the books’ titles are printed on the spines.

My first reaction was to laugh at the pairing, imagining, “breathe in through the nose, brea…GET CLIENTS NOW!” and “No clients no problem because I’m zen.” But since I do get serious eventually, I thought about how these two books represent a foundational challenge for business owners: how to maintain a focused drive – even zealous pursuit – via a calm, thoughtful, and chill mindset.

As a solo practitioner and advisor to really bright people who run multi-employee businesses, I am always either living or witnessing the schizophrenia arguably inherent in leadership. As a business leader, we want better and more, and are emotionally invested in achieving those goals. We want to demonstrate how great we are – at least to ourselves, if not to family, employees, friends, investors….

So how do you, as an owner, handle balancing the yin and yang of driven pursuit and calm mind? My favorite answers are:

  1. During each workday, ask yourself: Why am I doing this task / work? If your answer has direct implications for getting money or developing or promoting the product or service, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, get someone else to do it.
  2. Put down the Chalupa. Step away from the computer and email for at least one full day each weekend. When I do this at first I get a bit confused, stumbling about, but as the day goes on I find myself happily remembering what else in life I enjoy!
  3. Lots is written and said these days about meditation, and I’m a fan. My version isn’t sitting cross-legged, focusing on breathing; almost every day I take beloved dog Cooper for a 45-minute walk, often in the woods. I don’t listen to music and I rarely talk on the phone. Just me, m’thoughts, ‘n m’dawg.
  4. Do something else besides work and thinking about work. Still married? Know the names of those small people in your house? Like using power tools? Iron Chef? Enjoy chasing balls around? Penguin Classics? Do you have … friends?
  5. Make the time to ask employees, customers, and vendors what’s good about your company, and what they think could be improved. If you get a lot of input, you’ve probably got a lot to fix.

The balancing act to achieve calm-drive is worth the effort. A clear mind, good data, and perspective go a long way towards achieving great results.

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