12 April 2015
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where there is only one way out, and however you look at it, the task ahead is more daunting than anything you encountered up to this point? Hitting 30 years of age and realising time was running out, I had to get my next business right. I was facing a climb steeper and further than any I’d ever encountered before and if I’d known what was involved, I wonder would I have started out on the journey?
But sometimes ignorance is bliss. When you can’t see over the horizon or when you are blinded by a mist of distractions and you set off on your march, as the road gets steeper something inside just keeps you going.
Setting up in business is tough enough, setting up in a field I had no idea about with no history in the technical space and no money or backing could be described as lunacy, but it’s amazing what you can do when adversity stares you in the face and fear becomes a very effective driving tool.
I have lost count how many times I could have turned around, compromised or given up. But its these tough times that you manage to get through that ultimately define us.
It’s easy to look back now with clarity and try and make sense of the myriad of decisions we made but honestly there was nothing sophisticated about what we did back then.
It made no sense to go up against the biggest companies and private equity driven businesses with massive budgets, but thats what we did. And whilst we weren’t the only ones, we are the only one of our type left to my knowledge.
So what went right? Was it luck? Is there a secret formula? Did we do things differently? How did we do it?
The reason I write this is that I am a firm believer that anyone can do it, It’s not easy, like anything where you are trying to be the best at something, it requires a great deal of dedication and commitment. But if you have that commitment, what else do you need to guarantee success and accelerate your business through recessions, downturns and an ever increasing competitive landscape?
Whilst I hear many entrepreneurs offering advice to up-and-coming business people, I never hear anyone talk about this one element that I believe is absolutely necessary to drive a business and yourself through every level.
It’s an odd word when you consider entrepreneurs by their very nature are often creative free spirits and the association of discipline is almost negative in comparison. Yet that energy and free spirited creativity needs to be amplified if you are going to be successful.
This requires a formula.
A concise way of summarising a series of events and disciplines that speed up and enhance your life.
Where do you start and how do you build one?
I started by listening to Tony Robbins. A life coach and inspirational motivational speaker. I’d recommend downloading his material or better still go and see him live. He’s and amazing character. (I’d be happy to put you in touch with one of his team, to help you get some good tickets.)
When listening to Tony he helped me realise where I was going wrong and boy I was making mistakes all over the show!
Tony described his journey and said “as a young man I’d study successful people and try and work out what makes them perform at the top of their game.”
He described how he’d ask their wives and girlfriends “why are you with this older guy? It’s the money right?”
They’d laugh at him and say, “have you not seen his energy, can you not feel his passion?”
They were right, these super successful people had more energy, passion and drive than people half their age.
The more he studied these successful people the more he found out that a few of the traits of successful people were inherent in all of them.
They all dedicated time to themselves. They all put fitness and health at the top of the list and the happy ones all put a high amount of energy in to their personal and family lives. You don’t want to become successful at the expense of your family. There are plenty of these sort out there who have made lots of money but they have no one to share it with and they have no love in their life.
Listening to Tony Robbins helped me make sense of it all and I started to look out for these signs too. Sure enough, the more successful the person I have learned the bigger the sports person and the bigger the drive.
Exercise became a big part of my formula and to this day I run, play squash, or spend time in the gym every day. The only dips I have had in my life were connected to a neglect of this discipline.
As I get older I’ve learnt that health is much more important than I’d ever realised. Back in 2001 I completely changed my diet giving up dairy and wheat. Sometime the discipline of abstaining from something even for a short while is crucial to help us stay or feel in control when the world around us becomes increasingly complex.
Since then I have given up Redbull, coffee (even espressos!) and red meat.
But doing any one of these things isn’t going to guarantee success, far from it.
You have to find your formula. What are the things that will help you increase your energy, make you wake up earlier, sleep less, inspire you, drive you further, help you develop and learn?
I’d definitely recommend you study entrepreneurs, successful athletes and great people, but pick the ones you admire. Pick the ones with values you’d want to emulate.
There are too many high profile successful people that class themselves as entrepreneurs that I’d definitely not emulate. Making money should not be your goal when creating your formula.
If it helps I am happy to share parts of my formula.
I try and spend an hour to myself everyday, and one hour of sport. I often combine these two, as long as I have quality thinking time where I am able to give myself and my wife space to breathe. I also play a lot of chess which guarantees I get switch off time.
Get up early! That’s crucial, every hour of the day is vital if you are going to be successful. If you snooze you lose! I am on holiday at the moment, but nothing will make me lie in or waste a moment of a beautiful day.
No Wheat, no dairy ever!
Tuesday night, is date night with my wife Gail. No kids, just me and her.
Wednesday mornings I spend an hour or so with my managing director helping him solve his biggest challenges.
Friday morning Sales team catch up
Saturday morning Intense squash and gym with friend Joe Crav.
Sunday morning kids
Sunday blog where I write my feelings down. This is an important part of my discipline, putting time aside to hopefully inspire and help others. Time with my family, which is next on my list as they are busy running around on an Easter Egg hunt.
Why do I make it routine and do the same things over and over again? If you think about something you have to do you might only have a 20% chance of actually doing it. There are always too many distractions and other things to get in the way. When you schedule something, its in the diary, nothing will get in the way of completing it. As sure as the sun rises every day, these are disciplines that make us who we are.
Find your formula. Build something that encompasses all the things that would help you have the perfect week. Then schedule it, sit back and see what happens.