Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
Nobody promised that running a business in regional Australia and simultaneously raising three children would be easy. I started my business in 2003 and it could loosely be described as a consultancy service that works on community projects. Or, sometimes I just tell people I work in social justice.
As the bread winner for my household, saying YES to every opportunity that came my way in the early days of business (the first 12 years) seemed important. In many ways “YES” has served us well as the business paid the mortgage/s, kept the family running and even afforded a holiday here and there.
“YES” has also served my career as I gathered a broad range of skills, connections and knowledge over the years. There are so many things I can now do which fit into this ‘consultancy’ description and my clients respond with a steady flow of contracts.
Being multi-skilled is a useful state, however, I’m now nurturing a new motto “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.
As I prepared for a recent family vacation, the stark differences in mindset required to deliver all my recent “YES’s” really bit me. Put it this way, if what I was doing was a dance, I would have appeared to be simultaneously tap dancing, head banging and doing the chicken dance while juggling chainsaws. I was juggling too much, there were too many different directions.
And there is another emerging problem here. My kids aren’t babies anymore. In fact, they are teens and tweens with dastardly ailments like opinions, will and motivation. They need me. They need my focus. They need me to not be simultaneously planning an event, mentally mulling through strategies to save the world and churning my exhaustive to do lists as I butter sandwiches to pack into one of the 7,800 or so lunchboxes I’ll be packing in my role as a mum.
The time of multitasking at work has now concluded, it’s time to stop learning new skills and make the existing skills more potent. If you are feeling stretched by juggling too many different types of tasks perhaps it’s time for you to consider this too.
Here’s how I’ve been moving through this phase:
- Come back to what matters most to me and determine how this will come to life in my day to day life at both work and home.
- Make a list of all of the skills I’ve drawn upon in my work (you might add home as well) in the past twelve months.
- From that list circle what I’m enjoying right now.
- Look at what is not circled and if there are viable business opportunities in this area decide if there’s someone else that could be brought in to do these (I’ve done this with the evaluation services offered by my business).
- Find a team of like-minded, flexible, skilled people to delegate to.
- Build relationships with partners that you can send business to. Many business consultants would tell you this would happen on a commission basis, maybe it is or, maybe kudos is enough. One good turn often generates another, if it doesn’t it’s probably not the right partner for you.
- Develop a decision making system to evaluate opportunities.
- Get comfortable with NO.
- Create an annual and quarterly plan and check in weekly.
- Get an accountability partner to support points 8&9. My agreement with my associate Rosemary Shapiro-Liu is that if I stray from my plan I pay her a sum of cash. I’ve never been so focused.
- Create a ‘learning product’ (mine is membership for my customer base) to share your skills and empower others.
I thoroughly believe in lifelong learning and love updating my skills but the fact is, without becoming more potent, without truly honing in on my goals and just what I want to give to this life it will not be accomplished. The time for potency is now.
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