Jun 052017
 
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Risk-taking As An Entrepreneur – Are You Free Soloing?

How do you view the risk-taking that you do as an entrepreneur?

Do you feel like it is “all you” and any mistake you make could cost you your business and your financial future? Or, do you feel as though you’ve hedged your most important risks and built a support system that would act as a safety net to help you get through the inevitable mistakes that happen?

Yesterday, news surfaced that Alex Honnold had accomplished one of the greatest – and some would say most risky – climbing feats in history. He did a “free solo” climb of the almost 3,000-foot granite wall know as “El Capitan” in Yosemite National Park, in just under four hours! Free soloing means that he did the climb without the support of ropes or other climbing safety devices and without the help of other climbers.

It was just him, his climbing shoes and a bag of chalk hanging from his waste to help keep his hands dry.

How is that for risk-taking?

To the uninitiated, and to those unaware of the incredible climbing prowess and other free solo feats of Alex Honnold, such an accomplishment would sound unfathomable. Never mind the fact that it’s hard to wrap your head around someone having the physical ability to accomplish such a climb, but what about the nerves and fear that must creep into someone’s mind when they’re a couple thousand feet above the ground, climbing a granite rock face, with no safety gear?

Wouldn’t such a situation cause the mind to get caught in an endless loop of the worse-case scenario and freeze up like a late 80’s PC?

In Alex Honnold’s case, at least, the fear did not paralyze him and he was able to continue all the way to the top and accomplish a goal he’s had since he was a child. For him, the focus was not on risk-taking. Rather, the focus was on what he needed to do to reach his goal and accomplish perhaps (probably) the greatest feat climbing has ever seen and likely will ever see.

So, how did he control his thoughts and fears and how does such risk-taking map to what we as entrepreneurs have to navigate on an ongoing basis?

First, you have to say that on the surface, it’s difficult to compare the two, because unlike Alex Honnold’s free solo conquest of El Capitan, our activities on a daily basis as entrepreneurs are rarely, if ever, life or death. If we make a mistake as entrepreneurs, it’s unlikely that we will suffer the unforgiving nature of the laws of gravity, as Alex surely would.

Second, in our role as entrepreneurs, it’s unusual that we’ll be in a circumstance where we even figuratively speaking we have no safety net in place. Usually, in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, we design hedges and other safety valves in our financial, operational and marketing activities that allow us to avoid ‘bet the company’ decisions. This is not always true, of course, and sometimes through lack of planning or just simple bad luck, crises arrive or other situations occur that can put a company out of business. But, it’s rare that we consciously say, I’m going to bet the company on this decision, and in order to make it more challenging and more interesting, I’m going to purposely avoid hedging my bets, which is what Alex did with his free solo of “El Cap” and many other challenging rock faces previously.

Third, in addition to putting hedges in place, we usually have a strong support network that we build up over time as entrepreneurs and call on as needed when issues arise. If we don’t have such a network in place, we’re typically aware we should and work to build one over time.

So, if we’re typically not operating completely without a net in our risk-taking as entrepreneurs, as Alex does in his free solo climbing conquests, how is what he does relevant to us as entrepreneurs?

Alex’s free solo climbs speak to a few things that are paramount to being successful as entrepreneurs: 1.) Being committed to what we’re doing, to the point where (figuratively, at least) we’d put our life on the line to reach our goals; 2.) Being prepared, so that we maximize our chances of success, even if what we’re trying to accomplish seems crazy to others; and 3.) Being focused exclusively on the task at hand, not allowing outside distractions to dilute our efforts as we strive to realize the vision that we have for our lives and our entrepreneurial ventures.

In terms of being committed, Alex Honnold has proven time and again that he is willing to put his life on the line to reach his free solo climbing goals. He doesn’t just talk about going out there and doing these climbs that heretofore were considered impossible. He goes out there and makes it happen. How committed are you to doing whatever it takes to make your entrepreneurial endeavor(s) succeed?

In terms of being prepared, Alex Honnold has worked his whole life to reach the point where he could free solo El Capitan. He’s honed his craft on safer, roped ascents. He’s spent countless hours preparing his body physically to withstand the fatigue that is sure to set in on such an endeavor. He’s scouted El Capitan and rehearsed in detail the climbing moves he’d have to make, particularly in the most challenging areas of the climb. He’s free soloed lesser, but still challenging other rock faces to prepare his mind and his body for the stress that comes with climbing “without a net”. This list goes on and on of the preparation Alex has done to maximize the odds that he could safely accomplish his objective. How would your business look if you did a similar level of preparation?

In terms of being focused, Alex knows that when he’s on a rock face with no safety equipment to catch him in case of a mistake, he must be 100% focused on the task at hand. In his case, that focus is quite literally a matter of life or death. How focused are you when you are involved in the key activities you know are vital to the success of your business? If you could be completely focused as Alex must be, how much further could you go as an entrepreneur?

Well, congratulations to Alex Honnold on his extraordinary feat of free soloing El Capitan. Here’s to learning the lessons of commitment, preparation and focus that Alex has modeled before and during this amazing accomplishment, and putting those to work in improving the odds of success in the risk-taking we encounter as entrepreneurs!

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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Jun 012017
 
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How To Find Success: Drill Down Deep Below The Surface

If you want to find success in life, you need to go deeper than most people do.

I guess this should be fairly obvious, but in the world we currently find ourselves navigating, most people do no more than scratch the surface of anything!

Think about your typical day. If you’re like most people, you probably spend both your work and leisure time bouncing between activities and “putting out fires”.

How much time do you spend drilling deep into your work or your other pursuits? Be honest. If you’re like the majority of the people in our society today, it’s likely that your answer is: Not much!

What are the implications of only scratching the surface of anything you’re involved with? Well, they are numerous, and unfortunately, they are almost all quite negative.

First, let’s take relationships, a place where most people would like to enjoy as much success as possible. How rewarding and meaningful will your relationships be if they’re constantly undermined by the time you spend looking at your phone, for example? Again, no judgments here, but food for thought.

Example: You finally carve out time to take your kid fishing, but you spend a good bit of the time with your head buried in your phone screen. Or, you turn your phone off for a couple of hours and give your kid your full, undivided attention, taking the opportunity to teach him/her all the fishing tricks that you learned as a kid. Which approach accomplishes the presumed goal of building a better relationship with your child?

Next, let’s take your business (or your job, if you haven’t taken the entrepreneurial plunge yet).   How likely is it that you’ll grow your business and ultimately achieve your goals and dreams if all the time you spend on your business is constantly interrupted by other competing activities? Those competing activities could include all forms of social media, phone calls that could wait until “after hours,” television or radio broadcasts that only serve to distract you, and so on. How much do such activities stand in the way of your business reaching its true potential?

Example: You’re just getting into a groove in writing copy for an ad that you’re putting together. You’ve been mulling around ideas in your head for a while, but now it’s all starting to come together. Just then a call comes in from your friend, who you know is mainly going to want to talk about and plan for a party that’s coming up the following weekend. You take the call, as you don’t want to leave your friend hanging. Or, when you sit down to write the copy for your ad, you commit to yourself that for the next hour, or another time period that makes sense given the situation, you will not be taking any interruptions unless they’re true (like emergency room kind of true) emergencies. Which approach will move you along toward your goals?

Let’s even take a look at your leisure activities. How much rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation are you actually getting if you’re taking phone calls, answering texts, or posting to social media while you’re out supposedly having fun?

You get the idea – whatever you are doing at a particular moment in time is ALL that you should be doing. If something is worth doing, whatever it is, then it should be worth blocking out other distractions, so you can do it well and achieve the maximum benefit and growth from it!

So, let’s get back to the notion of “drilling deep down below the surface”. If you’re distracted while you’re doing or planning a particular activity, what are the odds that you’re going to be able to drill down or do a “deep dive” (as the saying goes) in that activity? I’d have to say they’re pretty low.

On the other hand, if you are completely focused on the task at hand, whatever that task may be, how much more likely is it that you can dive deep and achieve true growth, enjoyment and/or learning from that activity? I’d have to say the probability of being able to go deep improves considerably!

Having the attention span of a gnat will not cut it!

So, if you are seeking success in your life generally, and in the specific endeavors you choose to undertake, don’t be a dabbler and don’t let “short attention span theater” enter the scene. Focus. Commit yourself completely to the task at hand. Then, and only then, will you be able to compete in a world where the spoils of success, monetary or otherwise, go to those who are not content to just flit from one activity to another, but rather drill down deep below the surface. That is where most of the gems can be still found! The gems that sat on the surface are long gone, grabbed up by those who arrived before you.

 

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

 

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Dec 092012
 
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5 Quick Tips For Staying Focused

In the dynamic world in which we live, staying focused can be one of the biggest challenges.  I see it in my kids, the people I coach, entrepreneurs and achievers everywhere, and I see it in my own activities.  There’s a lot to get done, not much time, and a massive number of (quite interesting) potential distractions.

With all of this going on, how do you stay focused so you can reach your goals and dreams? Here are five quick tips.  This is by no means a comprehensive list; if you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.

Staying focused tip #1:  Realize the importance of focus.

Sometimes when I talk about the importance of focus with the people I coach and others, they look at me like I’m crazy.  I think many people have become so accustomed to the idea of doing several things at once, they do not realize (or remember, depending on their age) how much more effective it can be to focus on one thing at a time.  If you question the validity of this point, look around at the most successful people you know and think about the times when you’ve enjoyed the most success in your activities.  Based on that frame of reference, will you get further by focusing or by constantly trying to multi-task?

Staying focused tip #2:  Create non-negotiable blocks of time.

Once you have your goals in place, or even if you don’t yet, you’ll realize that in order to make progress, there are certain key activities you must get done.  You’ll also quickly realize that there will be one hundred less important tasks that will try to jump in line ahead of the key activities.  You can try to fit the key activities in between all the mundane, less impactful tasks that tend to clog up our days, or you can find another way.  In my experience the most effective way to get those key activities done consistently and with a high level of quality, is to block non-negotiable time daily, or with whatever frequency makes sense, where those activities are the only thing I work on.  Staying focused and getting tasks done efficiently and effectively with such an approach is, in my experience, much easier.

Staying focused tip #3:  Listen to music.

I’ll state right out of the gate that this tip may not work for everyone.  I’ve always listened to (loud) music in headphones when I was trying to concentrate on an important task, whether it was studying for an exam, preparing a speech, working on a tough problem, or whatever it may be.  The music calms my mind and keeps it from wandering to other tasks and thoughts; it also has the benefit of blocking out external noise, which can be very distracting at times.  For other people, music, especially loud music in headphones may be a distraction in and of itself.  You won’t know until you give it a try.  If you find it distracting initially, try another genre of music.  Classical music without words sometimes works quite well for those who are otherwise distracted by the song lyrics.

Staying focused tip #4:  Play concentration games.

It’s a bit strange in a post about staying focused to talk about playing games, I know.  I’m not talking about playing just any game though; I’m talking about playing games that force you to concentrate.  These would include any game that requires you to concentrate to achieve the desired outcome.  If you’re playing against an opponent, that outcome usually is “winning”.  If you’re playing against yourself, that outcome is usually bettering your previous best score.  Examples may include playing such physical games as tennis, Ping-Pong, or basketball.  Or they may include mental games such as chess, checkers, or even building a house of cards.  Challenges against yourself could include juggling a soccer ball or whatever else you like to do.  At the end of the day, the particular challenge doesn’t matter; what matters is that you are forcing yourself to concentrate more than the usual couple of minutes (or seconds) between commercials or flipping channels on TV.  The real idea is to break the cycle of “short attention span theater” that is so typical of the age and society in which we live.  Cultivating your ability to focus better and longer can help you on every important task you undertake.

Staying focused tip #5:  Create goals with tight deadlines.

One of the enemies of concentration is having (what you perceive as) plenty of time on your hands.  Similar to the saying “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” I believe that having too much time to get something done is the enemy of getting it done efficiently and with high quality.  Procrastination is, of course, something that runs rampant in our society and in the human race in general.  The tendency is to continually put off tasks, including challenging and complex ones, until the very last minute possible.  This approach typically does not lead to a high-quality outcome and it creates a bunch of unnecessary stress.  In my article on unrealistic deadlines, I pointed out how one potential solution to the procrastination epidemic is to create deadlines that force you to get started and make progress right away.  By playing this little trick on your mind, you can often force yourself to take the most difficult step much sooner, which is getting started.  Once you get started, you often realize that the task is not as bad as you had imagined and sometimes, you may even enjoy it more than you expected.  All of these factors can lead to better concentration and staying focused on the task at hand, rather than finding a bunch of excuses or a bunch of other less important tasks to keep you occupied.

I hope you found these tips for staying focused helpful.  Please put them to use and let me know how they work for you.  Also, as I said at the outset, this list is by no means exhaustive.  Let us know what else has worked for you!

I look forward to your thoughts!

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Nov 062012
 
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Misconceptions About The Importance Of Focus

It’s a common refrain among coaches:  “You must focus to be successful”.

I agree with this statement.  Focus is important in sports, business, relationships and almost every other aspect of life! That said, I think it’s important to get a clear and slightly altered definition of focus, in order to make “focusing” a realistic objective.

On http://dictionary.reference.com/, two helpful definitions of “focus” are as follows:

7.  to bring to a focus or into focus: to focus the lens of a camera.

8.  to concentrate: to focus one’s thoughts.

While I think focusing in the camera sense is a useful metaphor for thinking about how to be successful, here we will discuss focus from the concentration perspective.  That is, we’re talking about focus in the sense of concentrating, of zeroing in on one thing, one goal, one activity, etc., to the exclusion of other potential distractions.

Until recently, often when I thought about focusing, I thought about it in an extreme way.  I thought about focusing on just one thing, to the complete exclusion of all other things.  I thought that in order to be successful in one endeavor, I had to completely shut out all other activities, not just for the moment, but for an extended period of time.

I continue to think that shutting out all other distractions can be very effective in achieving one’s goals in a particular endeavor.  Unfortunately though, I’ve also realized that for most people, including me, it is usually completely unrealistic to shut out all other distractions, at least for an extended period.  Like most people, my life is not one-dimensional; I have my family, my business, my sports, my leisure activities, etc.  Given that reality, can I ever really “focus”?

Thankfully, the answer is yes!  I can focus!  I can focus on one thing at a time.  And when I’m done with that particular endeavor, I move on to the next one and I focus on that one.  I guess what I’m saying is that you can become a “serial focuser”.  It works.

What doesn’t work is trying to do several things simultaneously!  When you are distracted while performing an activity, it’s virtually impossible to achieve your optimal result.  Take an example that’s getting a lot of press these days:  texting and driving.  It has caused many serious and fatal accidents.  This is a great metaphor for what can happen in other aspects of your life when you don’t concentrate, when you’re distracted while doing something that requires your complete focus.

Another key point is that focus is usually more important at certain junctures of an activity than at others.  For example, if you’re playing soccer, or tennis, or baseball, one of the most important times to be completely focused is when you are about to strike the ball.  Focus is important at other times in those activities, but it’s at premium at the moment of impact.  This situation repeats itself in other sports as well, and it repeats itself in business and other aspects of life too!  There are certain moments when your complete attention is required for optimal performance and there are other moments when it is not as critical.

So, if you’re going to become a “serial focuser,” and I encourage you to do so, understand the key moments in your endeavor, whatever it may be, where the value of complete focus is at a premium.  Make sure that you are dialed in, switched on, tuned in, etc. at those moments.  If you need to take a mental break, or if you need to multi-task, as we all do from time to time, don’t do it in one of those premium moments.  If you do, your performance is likely to suffer greatly!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Nov 262011
 
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Increase Your Productivity

A Simple Tip To Increase Your Productivity

Would you like to increase your productivity?  It can be done pretty easily if you are able to say no and to politely ask people to go away and not disturb you.  The idea is simple:  in order to be more productive, you must have uninterrupted periods of time to work.  That’s it.

Ok, so the idea is simple, but the execution may not be so simple, particularly if you work in an office.  The idea for this post comes from a TED video I recently watched.  It was a talk given by Jason Fried of 37 Signals, entitled “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work”.  He made some great points about the inherent evils of meetings and of bosses who interrupt you at inopportune moments, to make sure you are being productive.  It’s ironic, isn’t it?

One point that Jason made that really resonated with me is that work is like sleep, in that there are phases, and that once you are “awoken” from a particular phase, you have to start all over again.  Regardless of the scientific accuracy of this analogy (who cares), it really resonated with me.  All of us have been woken up from a deep, high quality, restful sleep, only to not be able to get back to sleep afterwards.  We then wake up miserable the next day, feeling unrested and cursing the noise or whatever else may have woken us up.

Isn’t work the same way?  We go through phases of productivity in our work, particularly if we’re doing work that requires significant thought and focus.  We start out slowly, getting in the right frame of mind, getting all the facts straight, creating a space in our mind that has the right context for productive thought, then we start making some progress.  What happens if the phone rings at that moment, or someone walks in and interrupts us?  Can we simply start up where we left off?  Not usually!

So what does this imply about how we should manage our workspace and our work time?  In my case, I try to get all work that requires deeper thought done early in the morning, when I’m fresh and no one else is even awake to disrupt my train of thought.  For others, they are better able to focus late at night.  You probably know which is best for you.

Another implication of this “work phases” line of thinking is that even during the work day, when there are lots of potential distractions, we should be diligent, some would even say ruthless, about keeping those distractions to a minimum.  This is particularly true if we can’t push all “deep thought” work to when others are sleeping.  We don’t want to be rude, of course, but depending on the demands of your business at particular times, you may need to be a bit tough about protecting your time.  The alternative is to allow your productivity to be undermined by unnecessary interruptions.

Finally, I’d encourage you to test what works best for you.  I have spent my whole adult life working on this issue, so I’ve found some ways that really work for me.  I encourage you to do the same.  A couple of suggestions:  music, particularly classical music that doesn’t require you to listen to the words, and earplugs.  Also, turn off the phone, Facebook, texting, email, Twitter and various other potential distractions during those times when you want to be at peak mental productivity.  Those activities are fine during downtime and other times when you don’t have to have your brain focused and operating at peak productivity, but they are a detriment otherwise.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.  I’d love to hear any other tips you may have to increase your productivity.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but we’ve had a few get caught up in the filter.

 .

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Sep 032011
 
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Stay Focused – Stick To The “Main Path”

Ok, I’ll admit it – as someone who has a very broad range of interests, knowing how to stay focused, particularly early in my career, has at times been a challenge for me.  Probably like most of you who are “afflicted” with broad interests and a desire to learn as much as you can about each one, I don’t really feel as though I should apologize for this “affliction,” rather I remain keenly aware that I must keep it under control.  This requires the ability, and perhaps more importantly, a proven approach, to handle “shiny object syndrome” and stay on track.

While there are many ways to deal with shiny object syndrome and other external and internal factors that may cause you to lose focus, I have a particular metaphor that my brother taught me that has been very useful for me for over 20 years now.  For lack of a better name, I’ll call it the “Main Path Approach” to maintaining focus and perspective.

I still remember vividly exactly where I was when my brother explained the Main Path Approach to me.  I was still in high school and had just cooked up another far-fetched idea for what I intended to do immediately after graduating.  Honestly, I don’t recall exactly what it was, but most likely it involved flying or sailing to some far-away place and living off the land, or becoming a pirate, or something like that.  Those types of ideas occurred to me (more) frequently back then, and while my family largely tolerated them, they all had one clear goal in mind for what they wanted me to do:  go to college.

So on this particular day, I was with my brother, telling him about my latest idea.  He listened, said it sounded interesting, then explained to me the Main Path Approach, for which he also drew me the following diagram (roughly).

Main Path diagram

The idea, as you can see, is that you’re at some starting point and there’s a “Main Path” that you need to follow.  You can stray from the Main Path, but you must always return to it, so that you accomplish what I guess you could call your “Main Goal”.  In this case, as I mentioned, the Main Goal that he and the rest of my family had for me was going to and finishing college, which would then lead to my future.  In your particular case, at this point in your life, your Main Goal may be something entirely different than college – this example is just used for illustration purposes.

I think my favorite part of this diagram, at the time and to this very moment, was the little segments that go off the Main Path, then come back.  I loved the fact that they gave me license to try other things and still be a bit adventurous.  My brother and the rest of my family were smart enough and knew me well enough that if they pushed me to ONLY stay on the Main Path, it would cause me to go crazy and I would rebel.  I still feel that way to this day.  We have to give ourselves license to deviate from the Main Path, as long as it’s always with the knowledge that we’ll come back and accomplish our Main Goal.  For some people this “license” to deviate a bit is more important than it is for others.

What is your Main Goal at this time?  What should your Main Path look like?  If you have not done the goal-setting you need to determine the answers to these questions, I highly encourage you to do so.  If you don’t have a “Main Goal” (or Main Goals, if you so choose), it is very tough to determine what the Path should look like, and as a result, it’s highly likely that you will flounder or head down “rat holes,” from which you won’t know how or where to return.

P.S.  I’m not sure I ever thanked my brother for this diagram and metaphor, but just in case:  Thanks, Rob.  It’s been very useful to me, particularly in those times when I’ve known I got off the Main Path and needed to know which direction to head to get back.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com.

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Aug 032011
 
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Avoid Boredom. Challenge Yourself!

Why do people quit?  There’s a wide variety of reasons, of course, but in my experience, boredom is one of the biggest culprits!  Imagine that.  Many people, particularly top achievers, don’t end up quitting because it’s too hard; rather, they quit because it is too easy or too monotonous!

Most of the highest achieving people in my inner circle have illustrated this point to me time and time again, unknowingly.  I’d see them move from activity to activity, from challenge to challenge, relatively quickly.  When I’d ask them why, they’d tell me it was too hard, or simply, “I’ve found something more interesting to do”.

In my research for the book 10 Steps to Greatness:  The Super-achievers’ Little Handbook, which will be published shortly, I have interviewed dozens of top achievers, many internationally known, in a wide variety of fields, from sports, to music, nuclear physics, Special Forces, “big business,” and entrepreneurship.  One of the questions I always ask is regarding the biggest challenges the interviewee has faced in reaching the pinnacle of their field.  You guessed it:  “boredom” has come up more frequently than any other answer.

Remarkable isn’t it?  People who’ve arrived at the pinnacle of their profession often state that boredom is one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced.  How can that be?  With all the work they’ve had to put in to reach that level of accomplishment, it seems like boredom would be last on their list of major challenges, if it made the list at all!  However, as it turns out, the mind of even top achievers can quite easily become distracted and suffer from what I call “Shiny Object Syndrome“.  They are, after all, almost always extremely motivated people, so I guess it’s not surprising that they’re constantly seeking “new challenges”.

Here’s what differentiates the “greats” from the also-rans and the “mere mortals” in any particular field of endeavor:  rather than quitting or moving on to something else when they become bored in their chosen field, the “greats” are able to find “new challenges” in their own field.  Like most all super-achievers, they need relatively constant stimulation and new challenges undoubtedly provide such stimulation.  The difference is where the greats go to seek something new.

What I’ve found with the most accomplished people in my client and research base and in my circle of friends, is that they become very good at finding the “new,” in what for many would be “old”.  How do they do this?  They do it by becoming true students of their endeavor.  They study and are fascinated by every nuance of what they do.  If they’re a chessmaster, they’re constantly studying new board positions and combinations.  If they’re a CEO, they’re constantly observing, learning and setting new goals that push them to achieve more and stay focused.  If they are athletes, they’re always working to figure out how they can become faster, stronger, more focused and skilled in their sport.  They do all this passionately and often times, they develop such a love for their field of endeavor, that while they savior the victories, the trophies and/or the financial rewards, they realize that they’d do it all just for the fun of it.  The accolades and rewards are great, but they learn to truly love what they’re doing.

Once you truly develop a love for what you are doing, the sky is the limit.  You will find yourself accomplishing things you may never have thought possible.  You’ll find yourself reveling in the nuances, in the little details that to the untrained and unimpassioned eye, seem trivial or uninteresting.  You also will have greatly enhanced the likelihood that you will become a true “expert” in your field.  It is now relatively widely accepted that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to reach “expert” level in most any reasonably complex task or field.  That usually equates to between five and ten years, sometimes more, depending on the amount of time you are investing on average on a daily basis.  How could you ever expect to put in that kind of focused, deliberate effort on a sustained basis if you have not learned to love what you do?  You could force yourself, or be forced by someone else, I guess, but it sure would be a lot easier if you developed a passion for your field of endeavor and learned to find “new challenges” and nuances in that same field, rather than jumping from one domain to another.

Another key point is that it is OK to cross-train, whether it’s your mind or your body that you’re training and challenging, as long as you keep your primary focus on your chosen field.  I have found that it’s very important to complement a steady diet of business, entrepreneurial and intellectual challenges, for example, with tough physical challenges.  It helps greatly to keep one’s body healthy and to feel like you are regularly challenged physically.  In my case and those of many of my clients and the “greats” I have studied and worked with, overcoming physical challenges often greatly enhances the ability to perform even better on the business and intellectual tasks.

My latest big challenge is the “Tough Mudder” race.  You can check it out at www.ToughMudder.com.  It’s a ten to twelve mile run through a course with about 25 military-style obstacles.  It’s designed by British Special Forces and includes such fun obstacles as The Braveheart Challenge, Devil’s Beard, and Cliffhanger.  It is these types of challenges that get me fired up and get my blood flowing, which I find carries over to enhanced performance in all other aspects of my life.  What fires you up?  What will help you remain focused and impassioned, so you can avoid quitting and succumbing to boredom?  If you’re not sure, start looking, start trying to find “new challenges” and I’m confident that you’ll be amazed at the positive collateral effect it has on everything else you do.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Paul Morin

paul@CompanyFounder.com

www.CompanyFounder.com.

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Jul 082011
 
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Focus – Beware Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)

I was out cycling with one of my sons this morning, when it occurred to me that pretty much everyone suffers from what I like to call Shiny Object Syndrome, or “SOS” for short – the “syndrome” that causes one to be easily distracted by “shiny objects” and lose focus on key tasks at hand.

My son and I now go three times per week for a two and a half hour cycle, run and sometimes swim in the ocean. It’s great exercise and it’s been a great bonding experience for us – today, even more so, which will eventually get us to the SOS business (and otherwise) lesson learned today.

It started out as any other Sweaty Saturday, which is the name we’ve given to our two and a half hour treks, regardless of which day they occur. We got moving at around 6:45am, did five miles riding close to the house, and then crossed over the main road to get access to the beach. We then rode a bunch of miles on the beach because today, fortunately, the sand was hard enough to do so.

It was soon thereafter that the first SOS “light bulb moment” arrived, even though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. My son and I had just finished discussing that, since I always take the lead on the trail through the woods, I should probably carry a stick with me to knock down the spider nests, so the spiders wouldn’t end up on my face and bite me. I explained to him that it would be nice to take that approach, but the problem was that the trail was kind of tricky and technical and it would be tough to navigate with only one hand on the handlebars. So, I decided to just take my chances. Then, just as we entered the woods, having ridden maybe fifteen feet in on the trail, I turned around after making a comment to my son and right in front of me was a huge spider web, with a colorful spider about the width of my fist staring me in the face. I was moving about ten miles per hour and I broke the nest with my face and immediately turned to see if the spider was still hanging in what remained of the nest. It was! Thank goodness. So, after getting the web off my face and helmet, we decided that was enough of the trail for this summer season, as the spiders will keep getting larger until the fall, and I don’t want to have a heart attack when a huge one ends up on my face.

So we decided to take the circuitous route to our next destination, which is a nearby area with manmade exercise equipment on a circuit around a large lake. There, we ran, cycled and did a variety of other exercises. As is often the case with my son, who is the artistic one in our family, he was very distracted by pretty much everything, particularly the large variety of birds. The custom is that from a hundred feet or so behind me, I hear, “Dad, did you see that swan?” or “Dad, did you see how amazing the colors were on that duck?” The next sound is me yelling back, “Yes, son, now come on, we’re working out, not on a leisurely stroll.” It was during one of those interactions today that the Shiny Object Syndrome concept came to me, as I got increasingly frustrated with waiting for my son as he was distracted by one thing after another.

That said, I love the fact that he is so into nature and that he has such an eye for, well, pretty much everything. However, what I am trying to teach him is that there is a time for everything. As important as it is to be observant and to enjoy your surroundings, it is also very important to be focused and maintain concentration on the task at hand. I know that I and many entrepreneurs that I know struggle with this issue all the time. We have interests in a wide range of subjects and pursuits, we see opportunities everywhere we look, and we all suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome. There is a big difference with the successful entrepreneurs I know though: they have learned how to compartmentalize. They create windows of time and spaces for themselves to suffer “short attention span theater,” to their hearts’ content, in settings where there are few consequences. The rest of the time, in their business and personal lives, they are careful to focus and maximize their efforts on the particular task at hand, whatever it may be. When they’re working on key tasks, they are very deliberate to minimize distractions and remain very focused on getting the results they seek.

So, here’s the incident that really drove the SOS issue home for me today. After we finished our lake circuit and we were on the way back home, we had to pass through an old access road that has been converted to a bike path. The path is quite straight and runs for a few miles next to another lake. It’s nicely surfaced, so you can really “fly” on it. Today though, as we arrived to the path and were ready to get going fast, my son was still distracted and now he was also tired. As I turned, distracted once again by his distraction, to ask him what in the world was going on with him today, we were going about twelve miles per hour or so. Since I was turned to him, I did not notice that emerging from the left side of the path, was a large dark-colored snake with a distinct pattern on its back. It was a venomous cottonmouth (“water moccasin”) as it turns out. My front tire missed it by out six inches and it went rapidly between my son’s bike and mine. Thank goodness, once again, I got away with not paying attention, with suffering yet another bout of “Shiny Object Syndrome,” for if the cottonmouth had become tangled in my wheel, pedals, or those of my son’s bike, then flown upward, it could have been pretty ugly.

I’m not sure how many more SOS close calls I need before taking the focus message to heart, but I don’t think it will be many. 🙂 Set aside time to let your mind wander, but when it counts, make sure you are focused and not distracted or tempted by all the shiny objects we have in our world these days. I will try to do the same, though I know from experience that it will not be easy!

I look forward to your comments.

Paul Morin
paul@companyfounder.com
www.companyfounder.com.

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May 182011
 
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Originally posted at:

Have you ever been questioned, attacked or put down for no apparent reason? Have you ever encountered a confrontation you didn’t see coming because there was nothing to confront? Have you ever been dumbfounded by the incredibly childish behavior a grown man or woman displayed in the wake of their own disappointment? At work or at home…

Why do some people have everything they need and are still negative? How do some people make do with so little and stay positive all throughout life? What is it that makes some see the glass half full and others see it half empty? The following quotes helped me see the ‘why’:

“People who project negativity typically have low self-esteem. They feel badly about themselves, and their negativity is simply a reflection of those feelings.”

Hendrie Weisinger

“One always looking for flaws leaves too little time for construction.”

Lewis F. Korns

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Winston Churchill

So, it’s in the attitude. Do negative people have low self-esteem? Isn’t that a convenient excuse? I have to believe the quotes are right. In my work as Social Media Manager, I have encountered many a negative person. Whether in person or through social media, negativity spreads like wild fire if you let it. Let it is the operative term here. My advice is to ignore all bad behavior. As a former nanny and babysitter, mother of four and business owner, ignoring bad behavior makes it go away, eventually. Giving any attention to it will make the issue bigger, better, grander and go on and on and on. The following quotes helped me see the ‘what’.

“Negativity can only feed on negativity.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.”

Shirley MacLaine

“Negativity is expensive. It costs companies millions of dollars each year.”

Gary Topchik

So how do you deal with negativity in the work place? How do you turn negativity into something positive? How can you prevent it and nip it in the bud as it starts to rear its ugly head? I am closing this one out with some wise advice from some wise men and women. The following quotes helped me see the ‘how’.

“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”

Thich Nhat Hahn

“It is easier to avoid the effects of others’ negativity when we question if an action or attitude is appropriately directed at us. If it isn’t, we can choose to sidestep it and let it pass.”

Sue Patton Theole

“The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.”

David Icke

“From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life. “

Anais Nin

I would love to hear your stories on how you turned negativity into something positive.

Originally posted at:

As always, if you have questions, or would like to comment, please feel free to contact Dorien@moreinmedia.com.

Come find me.

http://moreinmedia.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MoreInMediaCompany

https://twitter.com/#!/MoreInMedia

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Mar 092011
 
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Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.
________________
John D. Rockefeller

As the famous 19th and early 20th century oil magnate points out here, it is extremely important to be focused. In fact, the term “singleness of purpose” implies something beyond focus; we must first have a sense of purpose and then be laser-focused on that purpose. Since we typically have to deal with many aspects of life, not just our business ventures, I would add to this quote that it is important to be focused on the particular venture or other issue you are working on at a particular moment — give it everything you have. Eliminate unimportant distractions and pursue your objectives with a “singleness of purpose”.
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