18 April 2009

So here I am lying on my back looking at a blue sky, watching the clouds change shape. An airplane appears and disappears leaving nothing but a trace in it’s wake. And the question is “what do I do next?”

Mid recession, with no clear understanding of how long is the tunnel or how dark it might get, I am drawn back to the hypnotic clouds.

There are some things in life you can’t predict or influence, “weather” you want to or not. But do these unpredictable elements stop you from going about your normal business or day to day lives. Of course not. Only in extreme cases, but even these are “blips” and they cannot halt progress.

I am reminded of Earl Nightingale and his anology of the ship. He describes the damage caused by a ship in a harbor cut loose without a captain, crew, charts or destination. He then describes the same vessel, but this time with a captain, a crew a destination and therefore a purpose. The vessel will reach it’s destination every time. It will seldom be on the exact course, the currents and wind will do their best to divert them. However their collective purpose is stronger than the outside elements.

Just like the plane overhead. It’s destination firmly programmed in to the captain’s head and the onboard computers. The elements are constantly changing, but the clear path is set.

I set a path a few years ago, and every day I tread closer towards my goal. Some days slower than others I might add, but I carry on unperturbed. One of my intentions was to continue learning in order to keep myself interested and able to manage our rapidly growing responsibilities. And even though I am forced to change my location as the rain starts to spit, my vision is not spoiled by the change of scenes.

Far from it in this case. One of my goals is to surround myself with successful people so I can learn from them. I think my wife took this too literally and booked us into a place called The Lodge. Sir Richard Branson’s private Ski Chalet in Verbier Switzerland.

Although Richard isn’t here this week it is a real eye opener to meet some of his team and to see how real everything he has created is. And to realise  just how achievable it is to set and follow similar goals.

So we take a couple of hours a day on the slopes carving our future strategies in our heads before cataloguing, discussing, arguing, debating our future in these sumptuous surroundings.

I realise  that not everyone can afford to take time out in such lavish style. However you do need to take time out! However you do it, it can be in a garden shed as long as you get uninterrupted time to yourself. The important thing is you have the time to reflect and think about where you have come from, what you have learned, and where you want to get to and what you might encounter on the journey ahead.

Planning and knowing your outcome in the reverse order are the two most important factors that separate the Bransons from the Brainless.

“So where do I go and how do I do it?”

Personally I always head for the mountains. At home in Wales, we have been lucky enough to find ourselves a house and lake in the Snowdonia National Park. It is a place where mobile phones aren’t banned, they simply wont work!

Before the Lakehouse , I’d put on a rucksack, pack it full of beer, squeeze in a tent and enough provisions and off I’d go. My first weekend away with Gail who is now my wife, was in a serious thunderstorm where we camped at the top lake on Snowdon.

It rained so hard that breakfast turned to soup and we had to pitch the tent on a steep slope to stop it from filling with water.

But I’d set myself a goal years earlier, I’d find the perfect partner when I was still poor and she would be resilient, determined and kind.

I got more than I bargained for. She indeed became my partner in every sense, wife and business. Yes she had all the traits, and my friends who know me would laugh saying, she needs to be resilient and determined to put up with me!

So what do I mean when I say I got more than I bargained for? Well, I’d set the goal to find Gail whilst I was still poor. A fundamental flaw in goal setting.

“You have to be careful what you wish for” my Gran always used to say. She must have been on a Tony Robbins course!

What I should have set was to simply find the perfect woman. As a result, I remained “poor” and unsuccessful until I met her.

This is not superstition. This is simple programming of your brain. Whatever you ask for you get, whatever you focus on you will feel. This is how seriously I take goal setting now.

To give you an example of a goal I set as a child, “one day I will have a house in the mountains by a lake.”  I also set a burning desire to have a home that was big enough for everyone in my family to enjoy.

Gail found the perfect place amazingly less than 2 miles from the summit of snowdon, with an estate that has a 250 acre lake and the properties combined are big enough to sleep 28 people.

Coincidence? No, I don’t think so. I remember not being able to afford the fee at the Snowdon car park, plus I have too many cases of other goals for this to be coincidence.

It is worth noting that every super successful entrepreneur that I know follows the same key principals. Be very descriptive about what it is you intend on achieving, be bold and don’t hold back.

So instead of trying to switch off from your business at the weekend, get in your car or on a plane. Get a note book and pen and take some time out to pat yourself on the back for all that you have achieved and focus on Stage II.

Your business journey consists of many rungs on a very tall ladder. You determine how high you go. You can get off at any time if you get vertigo like Nixon of MoneySuperMarket.com, or you can keep climbing new ladders. Or in Bransons case, when you run out of ladders to climb on this earth, go Galactic. All I can say in his wake, is “Go Branson!”

And to fellow aspiring entrepreneurs like myself, never stop learning, never stop pushing, and certainly never stop trying.

Nothing should distract you from the path you set and don’t be hypnotised by events surrounding the economy. Your purpose will outlive any economic downturn.

I blogged a few weeks back after Rob Williams from Dolphin Music  died on the mountains where we are now.It is humbling to be reminded that life is so short. So get up, stop procrastinating.

All you need is pen, paper and you have a purpose.

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