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Leadership

3 Steps Ahead (a mini-article)

By | General Biz, Leadership, Success Mindset | No Comments

I was thinking recently about something I learned from Thomas Leonard (founder of the coaching industry) at a coaching conference in 2002.

We do our best work when we are 3 steps ahead of those we are meant to serve.

If we are 10 steps ahead of someone then we may not be able to connect as deeply with who they are and what they need (and I dare say we may no longer desire to support them in the way they need – I know boredom kicks in for me here.)

If we are only 1 step ahead we may not yet have integrated our learning enough to be able to provide a deeper level of support. (Folks who learn something and teach it before they’ve actually lived it fall into this category – and we all know how annoying that is!)

3 steps ahead is the sweet spot – not too close, not too far.

If we embrace this concept then the truth is – we aren’t necessarily meant to do the same thing forever. If you are working to grow and evolve yourself this means you will be called to grow and evolve your business at some point as well (different clients, different offerings, etc)

It also means that we have to be willing to let go of the things that we have outgrown – the spaces where we are more than 3 steps ahead. I find something especially beautiful here – every time I am willing to let go it frees up space for someone else to step in to the place they are meant to serve.

For me this happens about every 3 years – I find myself in an up leveling cycle that requires me to make some changes. Sometimes the changes are big – sometimes they are subtle, but they always lead me to a greater expression of what I am meant to do.

I’m just coming out of my most recent up-leveling cycle and although it’s been tough – I am blessed to be on the other side and embracing my next 3 steps ahead mission. I know some of you are traveling this path right now – I am sending love and courage your way!

The truth of what’s been going on in my business

By | Leadership, Success Mindset | No Comments

In my last blog post I opened up a can of worms, chronicling about the Dark Night of the Business Soul.

Today, though, I want to share with you about my own journey…

It started a couple of years ago. I had hit the point of success in my business that I had always wanted.

  • I was making great money
  • Doing work I enjoyed with great clients
  • Had an awesome team
  • Working about 30 hours per week – no weekends!

I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish and it was good… but something was off. Something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Despite my success, I wasn’t truly happy. And those sneaky little thoughts crept in:

“It wasn’t supposed to feel this way”

“Why aren’t I happy?”

“If this isn’t ‘IT’ then what is?”

I had everything that I wanted from my business – an amazing team, good money and plenty of free time. And I was feeling this way? Read More

The Dark Night of the BUSINESS Soul

By | General Biz, Leadership, Success Mindset | No Comments

I’ve been going through an interesting journey the past couple of years and I’m curious if you can relate…

It starts with a hint of dissatisfaction.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way”

“Why aren’t I happy?”

“If this isn’t ‘IT’ then what is?”

That quiet voice in the night – saying things that you would rather not hear.

After all, you’ve been working your butt off to get this far. You’ve achieved what you set out to achieve. And it’s working.

You’ve created a business doing what you are good at.

You are making a comfortable amount of money.

You do great work and your clients love you.

Put simply, you are where you wanted to be and you still don’t feel like you’ve arrived.

After all this work, you still aren’t satisfied. It doesn’t feel like enough.

Another little voice kicks in now:

Read More

4 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Systems & How-Tos, Team & Outsourcing | 3 Comments

“Help me Tina! I’m too busy and something needs to change…”

Young overworked business woman sleeping on floorYou are right – it does. Being too busy isn’t sustainable and doesn’t serve you or your clients. The good news? It’s fixable, so grab your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions.

Question 1: Does this really need to be done? (If yes, now or later?)

We often have things on our to-do lists that either:

  1. don’t need to be done at all – they are ideas, maybes or “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. They are things we are thinking about, but that we haven’t actually made a firm decision on yet. Ideas are not to-dos – create a separate idea list and get those things off your to-do list!
  2. don’t need to be done now – if you aren’t strategic about planning ahead, then as a default everything on your to-do list feels like it needs to be done NOW. Work through each item and ask yourself – when does this really need to be done? Could it be put off until next week? Maybe even next month? Take your list and put realistic due dates beside each item.

You should be left with a list of things that are actually do in the next week or so – and a list of things that aren’t due yet (or are ideas and are no longer on the list!)

Question 2: Do I need to be the one to do this?

If you are anything like I was for years, as a default you feel like you must do everything. You are good at what you do. You are used to being the one to get it all done, but now things are starting to fall behind and slip through the cracks.

Run through your list again and ask yourself – could someone else do this for me? Be aware of the following when you answer:

  • “Well yes, someone else could do this for me but it’s only me so I have to” If you don’t have anyone working with you right now this could be true, and you also have the power to change. Growth dictates that you will need to hire help at some point – when you do it is up to you.
  • “But no one can do it as well as me – so I have to be the one to do it” This is a dangerous spot to get stuck in, because as long as you believe it to be true, it is… and it could be the thing sucks the life right out of you. Yes, you may be the best at doing something but that doesn’t mean you can’t train another person to be as good as you (or at least close enough 😉 or find someone who does it already and bring them on board.

The goal here is simple – identify the things that others could do for you. It doesn’t mean you have to hire a bunch of people tomorrow, but at the very least you can look to give more to the people you have already and plan ahead for getting more support (which becomes a light at the end of the busy tunnel!)

This second question can be a doozy as it brings up all kinds of stuff for many of us – it can have our inner control freak kicking and screaming! I highly recommend getting the support of a coach or OBM to help you here if you go through your list and still have your name beside every task. An outside eye can often see what you can’t.

Question 3: How can I create more space?

At this point you should have a realistic list of what needs to be done in the next week or so. Now you want to ensure you have the space and time to get it done. Here are two of my favorite tips:

  • Plan ahead –book the time in your schedule to get stuff done. You might book in specific tasks, or you might book in time for types of tasks (ie: writing time, client time).
  • Set boundaries – distraction is the death of productivity. Be it team, clients, family or social media – every time you get distracted it takes you off track, and for many people it happens all day long! Close your door. Turn off your phone and email. Let people know when you aren’t available and when you are. And get really good at saying no (because they will test your boundaries!)

Question 4: Do I need to renegotiate any deadlines?

If you are truly in over your head and can’t get everything done, then you need to revise your deadlines. I get that this sucks and you may hate having to do it, but it’s better for you to own up to something ahead of time vs. having people get upset with you because they are waiting/asking. To simply say to someone “Hey, I got in over my head here and that’s on me. I won’t be able to get X to you until next Monday and wanted to let you know.” Yes, you might need to make concessions for being late if this affects their timelines.

Even if they are frustrated, people will respect you for stepping up and being real with what is going on – and quite often they are OK with adjusted timelines if they know ahead of time.

The beauty of these 4 questions is that you can use them over and again. Every time you find yourself too busy work through this process, and ideally overtime you won’t need to anymore.

Let me know how it goes k?

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Many of my clients come to me because they are too busy.

They are working too many hours.
They spend most of their time putting out fires and trying to keep up with everything.
They are having to say no to opportunities because there literally isn’t anymore time to do more work.
Their family members are mad at them for working too much.
They are tired, frustrated and demotivated because they can’t see a way to change it.

Before you can make a change it’s important to first recognize this simple truth.

Being too busy is the result of our choices, it’s not the cause of our problems.

It’s easy to think that being too busy is the problem, but it’s actually the symptom of the underlying causes that need to change. The good news? It’s fixable! The bad news? We are the only ones who can fix it. 😉

The first step to fixing it is understanding the top 3 reasons why business owners are too busy.

1) Saying yes more than you say no

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our results. This also means that 80% of our efforts contribute to only 20% of our results.

In other words, we may be spending up to 80% of our time on things that don’t really matter. Ouch!

essentialismThis happens when we default to saying yes to everything that comes our way. Yes to every new project. Every new client. Every new idea.

Every time we say yes to something there is less of us to go around. We end up making small progress in many areas, vs. measurable  progress where it matters the most.

Greg McKeown summarizes this beautifully in his book Essentialism.

“Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone [and everything], you can make your highest contirbution towards the things that really matter.”

2) Still seeing yourself as doer vs. leader

For the first 10 years of my business it was just me. I was a soloprenuer working 1-1 with my clients was able to handle all the work on my own. 2009 was the year that I shifted to a leveraged business model and began to focus on growth. It was the year my business officially became bigger than me and I quickly started to feel the pressure of getting it all done.

The simple truth was that there was more work to do, and I could no longer handle it all on my own. Something had to change, and it started with redefining my role.

All activities in business can be categorized into doing, managing or leading. The more time & energy you spend in doing, the less time you have for managing and leading.

Doing is a habit. If you are anything like I was, you are simply used to being the doer because you’ve done it for so long. You may take pride in the fact that you are a doer and can ‘get it all done’! If you continue to identify as the ‘doer’ you will always be too busy, for the simple fact that you won’t be willing to let it go.

3) Not building a strong foundation of team & systems

You’ve embraced your role as leader and are ready to let go of the doing – great! Next step is to bring in the right people to do the work and build a strong foundation of systems for everyone to work from.

It’s not rocket science to say that you need to hire a team – I’m sure you’ve heard it before! And yet many people struggle here when they don’t know who they need, where to find them and how to lead them to success.

Most of us aren’t naturals – finding, hiring and leading a team is a learned skill. If you are committed to getting out of the ‘too busy’ cycle you need to be willing to invest in your own leadership skills & development. You need to be willing to invest in hiring great people who can help you take your business to where you want to be.

If you are too busy I invite you to explore these 3 areas and let me know which of them you are going to work on next. I assure you that even small changes in any of these 3 areas can make a measurable difference.

Here’s to your freedom!

You can’t help a client who is missing this…

By | Leadership, Success Mindset | 11 Comments

I’m at the point where I won’t work with a client who doesn’t have urgency behind their desire.

There is a big difference between:

“I’d love to have this but if it doesn’t work out, oh well”

VS

“I have no choice but to create this because if I don’t there are real consequences.”

without-a-sense-of-urgency-desire-loses-its-value-quote-1If we don’t have urgency we won’t do what it takes. We will take the easier path. We will put things off.

If there aren’t any consequences attached to the things we want then we simply won’t stretch ourselves to the place we need to go to create success (anything new does require stretching!)

This isn’t a reflection on the person – it’s simply human nature and we are all wired this way! (It’s easy to say that I’d love to lose 20 pounds but truthfully it’s not that urgent – so I don’t do what it takes to make it happen.)

Always explore urgency with a potential client! Ask them why they want to make the change they are making now. Ask them what the cost is if they don’t make this change now? What if they did nothing and were in the same place next year – how would they feel?

Pay attention to their answers – look to hear and feel the urgency. If they don’t really want it or it’s not really that important you need to be willing to say no to them (even if they want to work with you!)

You can’t want it more for them than they want it for themselves. I see this happen all the time, and it simply doesn’t work. People say they want something and you decide to work with them, but there is no urgency so one of two things happens:

1) They don’t take any action, which leaves you both frustrated (and you feeling totally disempowered because you really want to help!)

2) They blame you or the program for not working, which again leaves you both feeling frustrated (and could have you questioning your value!)

Bottom line is – if there is no urgency have the courage to say no to that client, even if they are willing to spend the money.

If you want something but can never seem to make it happen – explore your urgency. Be honest with yourself – are there any consequences if you don’t create what you want? Do you have an exit door or safety net of some kind that makes it OK if it doesn’t happen?

If something is important enough you may need to create your own urgency:

  • Fire a client who no longer serves you, so you can create space for the client who will.
  • Make an investment that goes beyond your comfort level – spending money you can’t afford to lose. <– I did this just last week!
  • Presell something so that you have no choice but to create it, because people have paid and are waiting for it! <– One of my favorite strategies

Yes, urgency is uncomfortable and that is where the magic happens… for us and our clients.

I’m curious how you’ve seen this play out for your clients? And yourself? Comment below and let me know…

The 3 Key Elements of a Strong, Trusted Team (without all 3 it falls apart!)

By | Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

I’ve had a handful of conversations lately with business owners who are struggling – they have a team of people working with them and it’s going “OK”, but they aren’t sure if it’s actually working or not? They are starting to question if they have the right people in place?

I recorded a NEW video for you today re: the 3 Key Elements of a Strong, Trusted Team. If you are missing any one of these elements you (and your team!) will struggle.

The 3 Types of Faith Required for Business Success

By | Leadership, Success Mindset | 4 Comments

Success is part action & part faith.

We talk about the first part alot – about what we need to do, when to do it and how. But action doesn’t come with a guarantee of success. We can do all the ‘right’ things and still not create the success we are looking for.

This is where faith kicks in – where we believe in the unseen. Where we trust in a future that we desire but that hasn’t happened yet. Where we KNOW that everything is happening for a reason, even when we don’t like what we are seeing.

In today’s new video I share 3 areas in business where faith becomes an important ally in your success journey.

 

3 Ways to Make Planning Palatable (Maybe Even Enjoyable?)

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Leadership, Success Mindset | No Comments

MANY business owners I know hate planning. They find it annoying. They don’t know how to do it. They start a plan only to find themselves mired in the details of ‘who needs to do what’ and give up out of frustration.

Or they just simply prefer to go with the flow and see what life brings.

I get it – there are times I wish I didn’t have to plan either! But I know the benefit it brings to me and my biz so I’m willing to do it even when I  don’t feel like it. 😉

Here are a few things to consider to make planning palatable (maybe even enjoyable?)

If you’re thinking “I need your help, Tina, to create a solid plan!” then check out my upcoming 3 hour virtual “Planning Made Simple” workshop

Planning Made Simple Workshop1) Planning is about committing to your DESIRES

The heart of planning is simply about saying ‘here’s what I want in the next year’ and then getting clear on what it will take to get there. It is  saying to the world that you are ready, willing and able to do what it takes to create what you want.

This of course means you need to know what it is you really want. Sometimes a reluctance to plan can be masking a deeper fear or resistance  to what it is you really want to create. Embrace the truth of what you want and allow yourself the freedom to lay a path to creating it.

2) Planning means LESS WORK for you every day

Each day will start one of two ways – you are either waking up clear on what you need to do that day. Or you are flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go.

The first option allows you to get the right stuff done first, so that you have the rest of your day open to spend as you please. The second  option requires that you waste valuable time and energy trying to decide what to do, when and how… often leaving you feeling like you’ve been busy all day but never actually accomplished anything.

It’s time to get that plan in place so you can stop working so hard!  Say to another few weeks/months/years of exhaustion and overwhelm. Build in the 3 x 3 Planning Habits I share in the “Planning Made Simple” workshop into your business and you (and everyone around you) will know EXACTLY what to do each and every day (no more doing it all yourself).

3) Planning allows others to SUPPORT you

Be it an assistant or a team of 20, if you don’t plan ahead I guarantee that you will always struggle getting the support you need. The most  successful teams are the ones where each person is clear on what they need to do, when it is due and is empowered to do great work. Last minute requests and constant changes will suck the life out of a team faster than anything else – and leave you feeling frustrated.

If you are unwilling to plan you will never find the support you crave.

The bottom line is this – you don’t have to love planning. You just need to love what it allows you to create. In the same way you don’t have to love flossing your teeth, but you do it because you know it keeps you healthy.

I created my Planning Made Simple workshop with this in mind – to give you a simple and, I daresay, fun process to laying a path towards getting what you want next year.

You are invited to join me LIVE on December 15th.  Here’s where to find out more:  www.tinaforsyth.com/planning

You may not like it (wink) but I assure you that – if you do the work – you will feel clear and empowered as we head into the
new year.

I know you’re tired.  If you think about this for too long, you may just end up having another like this last year.  Join me December 15th and put a solid plan together in just a few hours www.tinaforsyth.com/planning. 

 

The 3 Dangers of Playing Big

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Leadership | 4 Comments

Reach for the starsIn the entrepreneurial world we are constantly bombarded with the message to ‘play a bigger game’. Or variations on that message, such as ‘shoot for the stars!’ or ‘if you aren’t growing you are dying!’ And I can’t help but wonder…

What if, instead of trying to play a ‘bigger game’, we aimed to play a ‘right sized game’ instead?

Striving to ‘play bigger’ has taken me off course many times in my 17 year journey as a business owner. When I look back on the times where I struggled the most and lost the most – it was when I was trying to play bigger and chase the elusive promise of ‘more will fix everything’.

There are 3 dangers to blindly following the ‘play bigger’ path that business owners need to be aware of.

Danger #1 – What works for them may not work for you

There are no end to programs and coaches who will promise you that ‘if you follow this simple formula you too can achieve the same success that I have enjoyed.’ If I’ve learned anything in my experience as a business owner it is this:

There is NO one size fits all solution to success.

The business model that works best for me may not work for you. The marketing strategy that works best for you may not work for the next person. I know I’m not alone in having spent thousands of dollars and countless hours of time following a formula that simply wasn’t a fit for me.

Our job is to know ourselves – to know our greatest gifts so that we can choose a business aligned with our strengths (and stop trying to be something we aren’t!). To know what we really want so we can set goals that match our true desires (and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses). And to learn from the right people who are simply ahead of us on a similar path to success (and won’t try to talk us into something that isn’t a fit.)

Danger #2 – Playing bigger generally brings bigger costs

“It costs money to make money”. I’m sure you’ve heard this before and for the most part it is true. But where business owners get themselves in trouble is spending ALL of their current money for the promise of FUTURE money.

They invest everything they have in the moment for the potential return of something in the future – which may or may not happen. And if it does happen they do it all over again, spending more and more money but never actually getting to keep much (or any!) of it. I spent years in this cycle and it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

The goal is not to make more money – it’s to keep more money. And this can happen regardless of how much money you are making right now. Get clear on your financial goals and commit to how much you want to keep The key is to balance spending with saving, so that every dollar you make contributes to your long term financial freedom.

Danger #3 – Striving to play bigger can trump your why

There is nothing worse than working your buns off to reach a goal, only to find it hollow and meaningless. I’ve seen many business owners reach amazing financial goals, only to find themselves burnout, tired and disillusioned. And in some cases they’ve lost their health and relationships in the constant pursuit of more.

There is no faster path to burnout than to keep doing work that isn’t aligned with your why. To blindly follow what you see others doing thinking that you should be doing the same thing. To make decisions from a place of ‘well everyone else is doing it so I may as well too’.

Your why is the fuel that will sustain you on your journey to success. If you lose track of your why you may lost yourself in the process.

The bottom line is this – more for more’s sake will never be enough. It is a game that you will never win because ‘more’ doesn’t have a finish line.

You need to want more for the right reasons. The reasons that are aligned with who you are and what you (really) want – not what other people want for you or from you. You need to be specific on the exact amount that fits your financial & freedom goals, and that allows you to do the right work to get there. You need to know how much time and effort you are willing to put in so as to allow you to enjoy the life you have right now (not the life you may have in the future.)

I want to acknowledge that this is tough. It is hard to step outside of the pressure to ‘play a bigger game’. It’s hard to resist the siren’s call of ‘more makes it all better’. To simply say no to the people who say ‘but you could be doing so much more!’

It takes courage to claim your space and say – this is who I am, this is what I want and it is enough.

I applaud your courage to play the right game, and I’m right here with you.

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