23 March 2014
I found myself explaining the word “perspective” to my daughters this week whilst calming down something that was spiralling out of control. It’s very easy to let things get on top of you, yet imagine if you had a switch that removed stress in an instant and enabled you to remain focused on the important things, the fun things!
Well it’s easy when you put things into perspective.
There are many ways to look at any situation. When I was explaining to the girls I asked them to look out of the window and to describe what they could see. They started listing things and describing the trees and landscape outside. I got them to imagine being outside, on either side of the garden and asked them do you both see exactly the same view?
The answer is simple. Of course not, yet you are both in the same place with two very different points of view.
“How big are the trees?” I asked.
“Well they are huge!” One of the kids said.
“Really, they don’t look any bigger than my thumb” I joked.
It was a great way of putting everything into context. By stepping away from the scene and looking in, everything just shrank. Life is no different and business is exactly the same, all the same common sense rules apply. When you are in the thick of it, sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away and come back to it later.
Maybe this is what Richard Branson meant when he said to me, “why do you go into work every day?” Living in Necker is the ultimate in stepping back and it forces you to employ the right talent and see the important things that surface. I have learned that I love being an operator and I don’t think I’d enjoy running UKFast from the confines of an island. I enjoy being close to the action, but he’s right as he is about so many business lessons, I am finding the bigger UKFast becomes the more I find myself stepping back further to help see things clearer.
It’s the best way to develop your team too, as well as forcing you to focus on learning new skills. And now, when I meet with my senior leaders I find myself helping them put things into perspective.
It seems a common theme as things grow so fast, but how do you remove any unwanted stress with the things that don’t go to plan?
Well, once again, by stepping back and reflecting on all the facts, once the dust has settled, far from the madding crowd. I create lists. I carry around a little black book and write down all the items on my mind. If that doesn’t work, list all the things that matter in your business and life. You will soon get an idea of what really matters and the size of the problems you have.
My 3 children and beautiful wife usually start my list, but if you write quickly and try not to think too much it’s amazing how long you can write for and how many incredible things are in your life already. Put yourself on the list too!
I learnt from Tony Robbins that you can only feel one emotion at a time, so by focusing on being grateful, everything else just goes away.
Where does stress come from?
Once you understand this it’s so much easier to control. Stress comes from urgency. It’s time related. You can make any action, even fun stuff stressful when you throw in a deadline, my wife has a handy knack of this! Launch dates and deadlines have consequences. The moment you throw in urgency, it’s very easy to create stress. Sometimes there is a need for urgency, but it’s important when setting deadlines to give people a ‘way out’ if they are unable to meet demands.
A friend of mine works for a law firm and everything is clocked, and all her colleagues can see everyone else’s clocks. This is the ultimate hell, and yes if you are running a business like this, you may make lots of money in the short term, but in the long run you will be beaten as more and more businesses move to a more relaxed workplace.
I now have to kick people out of work if they hang back, and whilst you might win on hours if you clock people in and out and count every second, but what about passion, accuracy, quality? A happy person will always do more and out perform a stressed candidate.
Get creative with the way you run your business and life. Compartmentalise areas, delagating the parts you struggle with. No one can be good at everything, so find someone who enjoys the things you hate. Don’t you find you put off the jobs you hate? And as the deadlines near the stress levels increase.
I am a very different person to my wife. Same values, different skills. She’s a chemist, a pragmatist and I’m a creative. You can guess who handles the sensible stuff and who does the fluffy stuff in our relationship!
It applies in business too. My first business was a mess as I left all the things that I hated to the very end. Gail loves the things I struggle with so we divided up the responsibilities and work between us and the things that both of us struggled with, we searched for the perfect team member.
It is not a scientific solution, it’s work in progress. None of us are the finished article, and I suppose that’s why it’s important to have techniques to help you to the next level.
So next time you feel the world on your shoulders, step back, go for a walk, or a cup of tea and ask for help. Put whatever it is into perspective. It’s easy for me after my avalanche accident. When you have had the last breath of air crushed out of you and you are conscious this is the end, you are dying, everyday since is a blessing. My 3 daughters would not be here, you would not be reading this, UKFast would not exist, the world would be very different, at least for me and Gail.
You don’t need a life changing moment but it is worth taking a moment if you want to enjoy the journey.