Sleep Well = Perform Well

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about sleep as an important factor in our performance. Until I saw the article I refer to here, everything I’ve seen related to quantity and quality of sleep.

Several years ago, as Chief Pilot for a small air freight company. I was often called upon to substitute for a pilot who was unavailable for his or her scheduled flight. This could mean anything from an all-night run to a mid-morning flight. Naturally, my sleep schedule varied greatly.

Comparing that time to now, I’m quite sure my mood is more settled now when I sleep on a very consistent schedule.

Here’s Inc. magazine’s Bill Murphy Jr. discussing a study which indicates that consistency of sleep schedule is important to effective rest. To the surprise of many, this study says you can’t “make up” for missing sleep with more sleep hours! I guess you could say, “Lost sleep is never found!”

For anyone who works “Swing shifts” – a different shift every week – it may be impossible to avoid this. That’s not as common now in the information age as it was a few years ago. If you’re one of the few so affected, you might want to encourage your employer to reconsider that policy.

I haven’t done a lot of research on this thought. It seems to me this issue is likely a root cause of the phenomenon known as “jet lag”. If you’ve traveled across multiple time zones you’re no doubt familiar with that. For many, it results in serious disorientation for up to a week after arriving in a new time zone.

So if you’re used to sleeping at different hours on different days, you may want to consider sleeping more regularly.

Success And The Impostor Syndrome

Recently I’ve been employing the services of a virtual assistant named Jeff Lucas. He’s employed by Smart VA’s, a service founded by Kristy Yoder. Kristy regularly publishes a video presentation on YouTube about some business idea.

The one I just received discussed the “Impostor Syndrome”, the sense that you’ve achieved more than you somehow deserve. This feeling is more common than you might think!

Drawing from the work of Dr.Valerie Young, Kristy identifies five types of people who entertain feelings of being unqualified for the position they hold or the success they enjoy.

If you feel that you’ve “lucked into” your success or accomplishments, see if you match one of these types of people.

The encouraging news is that you can overcome these feelings if you have them. Each of these types of “impostors” can utilize a specific mindset change to make this happen.

Do you or someone you know have thoughts of having achieved more than you deserve? Check out this 11-minute exploration of the Impostor Syndrome and its antidotes.

What We Know vs. What We Don’t Know

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you coach entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurs often succeed by identifying a hidden need in a marketplace that no one else has seen. Then they address that need with a unique solution.

Here’s something that may surprise many entrepreneurs and those who observe them. There are many quirks of human nature that are just as hidden from these guys as from the average “man in the street”.

When you’ve addressed a unique need with a unique solution, you may find it easy to believe you have all the answers.

In this Inc. magazine article, Lindsay Blakely describes the work of Adam Grant. (Here’s a link to his book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.)

Have you, or has someone you know or work with, gotten caught up in the “Founder Syndrome”? Believing that entrepreneurial success has made you or them capable of addressing every ill in the world? According to Grant, it happens often! Especially those who’ve succeeded for the first time.

Here’s the thing – of course, It’s important to know what you know – especially if that drives your business! It can be just as important – sometimes more important – to know what you don’t know.

That opens the door for new knowledge. The more we know, the more we should seek to know!

The Healing You Need!

To kick off this special issue, I thank every one of you for reading the words I write here. Read this issue and click through to the resources I offer here. You will learn about a healing technique stronger than almost any chemical, or even natural, medicine.

Minda Zetlin, an Inc. magazine contributor we’ve heard from several times, recently posted this. Strong words from a lady I hold in high regard.

The technique she mentions costs nothing and is available to anyone. Even more powerful, though, is this TEDx talk by Tameet Sethi, whom Minda mentions in her article.

Sethi is a doctor trained in integrative medicine and a caring mother. You may not – most of us don’t – know much about integrative medicine. You don’t need to. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is her powerful story from a mother who of course loves her young son deeply. She created something beautiful from one of the most painful experiences a parent can endure. Her description of this heart-wrenching experience may mean more to your health than any medicine ever prescribed for you. (The first 10 minutes of her 17-minute talk are important preamble. Her actual description of her life-changing experience starts at 10:15. If you skip straight to her story and listen to it, you may be motivated to go back and review the whole talk.)

I sincerely hope you’ll click on either of the links in the article. It can change your life. The gratitude concept has already made a big difference for me. This takes my appreciation of the technique deeper than it’s ever been.

Spend Your Time More Effectively!

Not doing something not worth doing is a great way to spend your time.

David Heinemeier Hansson

Here’s a guy who’s succeeded in business by not doing more. But…he’s done important things. And…he’s enjoyed it. To learn about how he’s pulled this off, listen as Alex Sanfilippo interviews David Heinemeier Hansson.

David is a co-founder of Basecamp, and author of It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work. He’s also a race car driver and enjoyer of life. Links to David’s business, his book, and other resources are linked on the interview page.

With first-hand experience in the startup software business, David is unique. He and his partner eschewed the accepted features of that culture. They didn’t risk everything they owned, work 80 hours/week, or take no time off.

David has lived most of his life in Denmark. He learned a different work/life balance perspective than what’s common in the U.S.

David and his partner started Basecamp (then 37 Signals) as a side gig. The kept their established sources of income. They failed at an earlier venture and learned from the experience.

Calm vs. crazy is a concept that defines these guys’ approach to business. David discusses the quality of an hour vs. the quantity of hours he works. As people “fragment” their time, they never get into “flow”. Flow is what can make us intensely productive.

In today’s world, we’re bombarded by inputs that distract us:

  • Social media
  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • Meetings
  • Etc., etc. etc.

To be productive, we must never put our schedule at the mercy of others’ whims. His advice: Turn off all notifications.

“Enough” is another concept David and Alex discuss. Goals can put us in the mindset of never having enough. We’re always striving for “more” As Basecamp started to grow very well, they got a point of 50 employees. They had several other products and found they couldn’t do them all with 50 people. Did they hire more? No – they stopped doing some of the other things. Basecamp was rewarding, and it was enough! As Basecamp grew, they’ve expanded to about 60, no more.

David asks himself one of my favorite questions: Why am I Here? His answer has 3 parts:

  • He wants to make great software.
  • He wants to make it with awesome people.
  • He wants to treat customers right.

Nothing more, nothing less!

Here, I’ve hit on the high points of David’s ideas. I recommend you listen to the interview to get the depth of his ideas.

Marketing On A Budget!

Some people line up big investors and/or large savings accounts to start businesses.

The guy highlighted in this article did it without big money. Without a huge marketing budget.

The power of an idea that resonates in the market is huge. When people benefit from something they bought, they tell their friends about it. 

Mike Doehla, quite by accident, discovered the power in this human tendency. Leveraging it, he built Stronger U, a $ multi-million online nutrition coaching business.

As Doehla’new business was starting to get traction, he lacked the self-confidence to quit his corporate job. His then-girlfriend, whom he later married, convinced him to take the plunge.

Think about the last time you had something to eat you liked a lot. Or maybe you watched a movie you enjoyed.

When you talk with your family or friends, you can’t wait to share that experience. Right?

The same works when someone provides a service that helps you accomplish a desired goal. That’s exactly what Stronger U does for people who want to improve their health. Read about it here. If you’re interested in more information about how they can help you, go to the company’s website.

Surf Dude And Life Lessons That Go With It

My good friend and fellow Estanciero David Galland recently published Surf DudeLike everything David writes, it’s a riveting story. As with much good writing, there’s a lot more here than an entertaining narrative.

The story is of a group of airliner crash survivors on a small island, struggling for survival. Two examples of extreme antisocial behavior emerge. What follows is the rest of the fascinating story.

This book brings to light the value of respect for others and their opinions and beliefs. And of course, the folly of prejudice and a closed mind.

If someone has different ideas than you have, what of it? If you both are open to discussing your differences, it can make an interesting conversation. If either of you doesn’t want to do that, it’s better left alone.

“Convince a man against his will, He’s of the same opinion still.”

– Dale Carnegie

Suppose they believe differently from you in some area, say religion or politics. They aren’t harming you with their different views. They could, of course, become a nuisance if they insist on proselytizing. You may, or may not, choose to include them in your circle of friends. I have several friends who are of opinions quite different from mine.

Naturally, if they believe in stealing, or harming other people, you want nothing to do with them. You may even need to take action to protect yourself and your assets from them.

The libertarian (notice that’s with a small “l” – it’s not a political party) view is:

  • Live and let live.
  • I’ll respect you and your opinions as long as you respect me and mine.
  • I’ll treat you fairly as long as you treat me fairly.

Solid sustainable businesses add wealth to the economy. They flourish by producing something of value to their customers. When a customer buys from them:

  • The customer sees more value in the product or service than the price he/she pays for it.
  • The company sees more value in the money paid to them than the product or service they delivered.

This is a win-win transaction. It’s how wealth is built in a healthy economy. People who do business this way are usually open to all comers without prejudice. It’s just the way they think. Rarely are they prejudiced in anything. David discusses the concept of trading at will in some of the interactions among the survivor group.

So… with this discussion, I’ve drifted a bit from the original topic, that of David’s book. If you look carefully at my flow of ruminations, you may (I hope) find a thread of related ideas.

Perhaps it will encourage you to pick up David’s book and let it stimulate your thinking. It’s a pretty quick read, and I think you’ll find it entertaining. (You might not if you believe in physical and psychological domination and/or religious fanaticism. These two, domination and forcing religious beliefs on others are really two forms of the same thing.)

New Year, New Habits!

Which of your habits (we all have many!) are serving you well? Which are detrimental for you? What new habits would you like to establish?

Want to :

  • Quit smoking?
  • Lose weight?
  • Make your bed every morning?
  • Eat a small amount of healthy chocolate each day?

Last week I got a recommendation for a book which I’m pretty sure will change my life.

What causes habits to form, or disappear? This book, by B.J. Fogg, can probably help you make some worthwhile adjustments as well. Fogg analyzes habits. What causes them to form, disappear, or change.

He analyzes what makes it possible to adopt habits without difficulty. His core principle is B=M+A+P.

Behavior results from

  • Motivation to do something – what makes you want to do it. You want to lose weight.
  • Ability – how easy it is to do. Often that’s one ridiculously easy step. You put half a teaspoon less sugar in your coffee. A new behavior is easier if you reduce the practice to a tiny fraction of your full intent.
  • Prompt – a natural, easy key to remind yourself to do it. Tie a ribbon on the handle of the sugar spoon, or on the handle of your coffee cup. It’s actually better if the reminder is something already in your routine. E. g. you sit down at the breakfast table, or you pour your coffee.

At times when motivation is low (happens for all of us!) doing the easy minimum meets your obligation. You can still congratulate yourself on accomplishing your new habit.

Fogg has many more nuances to refine the process of establishing new habits.

Do you aspire to building new habits or eliminating others, to change your life? I recommend you explore BJ Fogg’s recommendations.

They provide a great alternative to “resolutions” which are often forgotten after a few weeks or months.

A Bizarre 2020: The Good And The Bad

We prepare to close the books on what has been a most bizarre year. For most of us, probably the most bizarre year of our lives! For me, this seems a good time to reflect on 2020, and think about how to get 2021 off to the best possible start.

One of the best ways to improve results is to plan better. There’s more on that at the end of this message. Here, I will recommend primarily that you examine your personal habits. Make a conscious decision to develop more good ones and improve on those you have. You probably also have some habits that don’t serve you well. Decide to eliminate them!

This week I started this message by recommending a book that can be a great help in building new habits and ending the ones that aren’t serving you well. I’ll discuss that book in more detail next week. Here’s the link to its listing on Amazon.

Meanwhile, I want to take this week to remind us all of the value of reflection and planning to improve.

Whenever we’re faced with a challenge, it’s helpful to look for the benefits that come with it. As Napoleon Hill reminded us, within every adversity, there’s the seed of equal or greater opportunity. So look for that seed! Figure out how to make lemonade when lemons are delivered, even if by the truckload.

Let’s look at the particular example of COVID-19:

  • Can you find a way to react that improves your relative market position?
  • Was there an improvement that was in the back of your mind, and this has stimulated you to make it?
  • Have you been able to reduce costs with fewer in-person meetings, internally and with prospects/clients?
  • Will you be able to reduce office space as you continue with remote work for many?
  • Are your employees enjoying less commuting time and expense? Do you help them see and appreciate that benefit?

Of course no review would be complete without also reviewing the challenges we faced. While we’re looking at those, let’s also think about how, and how well, we met those challenges.

What happens is a fact. Remember that each of us is responsible. Responsible for recognizing the full truth of what happened. Responsible for how we react to it. Responsible for the outcome of the situation.

With that preface, how did you respond to:

  • The news of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • The quarantine and shelter-in-place mandates?
  • Whatever disruption to your business resulted from all this?
  • The disruptions to your personal and family life?
  • The difficulty of travel?
  • Any other challenges you personally faced as a result, or not, of COVID-19?

Challenges On Your Team’s Performance!

2020 has been a challenging year. No disputing that! Likely, it’s been more challenging for many of your team members than for you personally. Or maybe you’ve had your own major challenges. In any case, what’s important is limiting the impact of those challenges on your company’s performance.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman of VaynerX, and CEO of VaynerMedia, has some thoughts on how to accomplish that. Marcel Schwantes discusses those thoughts here.

As in all things in life and business, taking responsibility for what happens is key. As a business owner, you’re probably well aware of the importance of that fact. Your employees may or may not be.

If you have team members underperforming, there’s a pretty good chance they’re distracted by personal challenges. Here are some thoughts on how that’s best handled.

One possibility, of course, is to replace the low performer. There are at least three good reasons to find other options:

  • It’s expensive! That could well add to the challenges to the company.
  • Who knows what challenges will be facing the new hire? You could be “jumping out of the frying pan into the fire!”
  • It will surely add to whatever difficulties the employee might be facing. I hope the employees’ welfare is important to you!

Assuming that last comment is true – that you care about your employees’ well-being – what’s important is finding ways to help your team member through whatever he or she is facing. That’s part of your responsibility! And it’s where Gary’s suggestions may help.

There’s one way you can help them that requires only coaching. You can help them see the value of taking individual responsibility. That will, under any circumstances, lay the groundwork for whatever their specific situation requires. I recently wrote an article that may assist with that effort.

Within every diversity is the seed of equal or greater opportunity.

– Napoleon Hill quote

This is a concept doubly important in the current times.