Archives For Life

In the past, my default was to do more whenever I felt overwhelmed. To react.

It’s like when you go to the doctor to get your physical; they tap your knee with a little mallet and your reflexes make your leg jump. They’re just testing to make sure everything works okay, and if all is well, that knee-jerk reaction is going to happen.  

When a business owner gets overwhelmed, the typical reflexive response is to DO. This is true for anyone who needs to produce results, not just business owners, by the way. The impulse is to just get busy. To start another project, send another email, to produce another webinar, or make another call or another sale.

My Reflex

That has always been the case for me, at least. I always thought, “Hey, I can change this situation that I’m in. I don’t like what I’m feeling right now.” So reflexively, I would just make something happen. What I’ve found most often happened was I would create half-baked products or half-baked services or half-baked blog posts. Everything that came out of that reflex was, to be blunt, complete crap.

I was in this exact situation just the other day. I created something half-baked out of that reflex and it came back to bite me. It wasn’t a good product and people were upset. They had every reason to be upset! My reflex was to make something happen, which can be a good impulse to listen to. But there was zero planning behind my reflexive action. There was no strategy.

Working with the Reflex

Now I’ve switched my impulse. When things don’t go my way and I feel that reflex to do something or  make something happen, I don’t ignore it. But I do I listen to it with intention. I let it serve as a guide on what area of the business needs attention, and then I take a step back and assess my thoughts.

I’m not always perfect at this, but funneling that feeling into reflection and strategy has produced way more for me as a person and in terms of results. Once I have pinpointed what that reflex is telling me, I determine one action I can take to get moving. From there I form a strategy from start to finish for implementing the solution.

Basically, when I feel that reflex, I take a step back, breathe, and think through it from start to finish. I will literally chart out the funnel on pen and paper and put little check boxes next to each step. I do that to make sure that the solution I implement is actually fully baked, is actually helpful, and won’t come back to bite me in the behind. Essentially, that it’s thought-through.

The Goal

Ultimately that is what I’m looking for; a well thought out strategic move based on the reflex that I’m feeling. What I want is results. What I don’t want are half-baked ideas that leave my team and customers in the lurch.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? If you find yourself having that proverbial knee-jerk reaction, try slowing down and reflecting on a specific solution or strategy to a specific part of your business.

We’ve all seen movies that stick with us. The kind that get in your head so that you have to mull them over for hours, maybe even days afterwards.

How many of you have seen a movie that went beyond that to actually changing the way you viewed the world?

My favorite movie is The Matrix. It completely changed the way I saw life, and this is not an overestimation. It was a pivotal moment because I knew I was actually different because of what I’d just watched. That’s also why I went to see it in theaters 19 times (no, really).

This movie was a watershed moment for me. Its impact was profound on multiple levels, probably due to the fact that I was also taking philosophy in college at the time.

There is a line from this movie, which you’ve probably already guessed, that has become my tagline. So much so that it’s getting noticed. I want to explain why that line means so much to me and to Think Digital

The Spoon Scene

There is one scene in particular that struck a chord. It’s the scene where Neo, the main character, encounters this small, bald child. The kid’s head is shaven which immediately peaks your curiosity because he’s not sick; you can tell that it’s shaven.

This boy has been bending spoons with his mind, and he enters into a dialogue with Neo. He’s holding a spoon in his hand and it’s bending and moving and shifting and you can tell this little guy is altering the shape of the spoon with his mind. Of course this impresses Neo, who basically says, “Hey, how did you do that?” This is the rest of the scene:

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

(From The Matrix1999)

The Impact of the Spoon

The line that still sticks out to me is “there is no spoon.” That line comes up at various points throughout the movie and the rest of the trilogy just as Neo is about to attempt something that seems impossible. Something that actually, physically seems beyond the realm of possibility. Sometimes there is a visual cue of a spoon, but usually he says to himself “there is no spoon.”

As we know, in the Matrix you can bend and shape reality by freeing your mind from the shackles that the world puts on you. That line is fuel for him to attempt and achieve the impossible.

Now, that scene sticks out to me for a number of reasons, but it all centers around that statement “there is no spoon.” Over the years it has stuck in my mind that in real life, in our life outside of the movies, there is no spoon!

That which was impossible is now possible. We are able to achieve way beyond what we can think or imagine. Typically the only limiting factors are our minds. If we can’t dream it, we can’t achieve it.

This is why I have “there is no spoon” spraypainted on my office wall. Why I have had stickers made of that line. Why it’s in my bios on all of my social networks.

That statement really reflects a larger reality in which we are capable of so much more than we think. That which was impossible is now possible. It’s all tidied up in the phrase from a bald boy in a really trippy movie, and it’s stuck with me throughout the years.

What is Your Spoon?

For a lot of people, the spoon is that we have to work 40 hours a week. Clock in, clock out. Save 10% and retire when we’re 55.

The truth is that we are moving towards a world (and in some ways are already there) where that paradigm no longer exists.

What is your spoon? Where are you limiting your dreams or your capabilities?

I want to talk about hustle. Mainly, I want to talk about the lunacy of hustle.

Hustle is vastly overrated. While getting a lot done is certainly of value, most of us could actually get way more done in way less time and be way less busy. Yet we seem to think that being busy equates to success. It doesn’t!

I know this is certainly true for me. Even though I was equating more hours with more output, in true hustle fashion, it simply wasn’t the case. What I found was I was taking the work that needed to get done and stringing it out over 12, 13, maybe 14 hours.

The Lie of Hustle

I was somehow, someway deriving satisfaction from the length that I worked instead of the actual production that happened within those hours. The difference is significant. And I say that knowing there’s this movement towards the direction of hustle. Being strategic about how you work is the true secret to productivity and success.

While I’m certainly up for working hard, I’m also a strong believer in rest. Without it, there is no focus. Without focus, there is no true productivity. Just the pat-yourself-on-the-back posture of the hustle squad.

Ways to Combat the Hustle

Schedules Over Lists

First and foremost, if it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t happen. For the most part, I have ditched to do lists and encourage you to do the same. These lists are counterproductive! They increase our stress, which reduces our productivity.

Most of us have to-do lists that are humanly impossible to finish. If you make lists the same way that 99% of the population does, that list is always growing. There’s never relief in sight because you add 4-5 items for every 1-2 you cross off! Anyone who knows the economics of scaling can see that it is not a scaleable system. It won’t work long term.

With that in mind, I’ve switched to scheduling out everything that is important or needs to get done. Block your schedule off into 15 minute increments and schedule your most important tasks throughout the day. I have found this to be more effective in terms of productivity.

Plus, it forces me to ask the question of what is most important to get done in a given day. Scheduling versus to-do lists will help you prioritize. It’s a pretty drastic system shift but it’s one that keeps your work boundaries in place as much as possible and allows you to work efficiently.

Mandatory Day Off

The second thing is pick a day of rest. Now, for faith-based people (specifically Christians) there’s an age-old discipline called the Sabbath where you take one day per week and you rest. You do not work.

In the Christian tradition that day is dedicated to worship, God, fellowship, community. You don’t have to be religious to use this principle. You simply need to pick one day out of the week where you are not focused on work. Instead, you are focusing on the other activities and relationships that make you a human being.

Basically the only criteria is that on your day off you are doing the things that energize you. Whether it’s going to movies, having coffee with friends, reading, watching Netflix, whatever. As long as it brings you rest, enjoyment, and fulfillment outside of work then it will recharge you and that is the goal.

When you do work 24/7, your mind can never get the mental break it needs to recharge its batteries. The day of a rest is a secret weapon for any entrepreneur or business owner out there. It will feel scary, and it will feel like something is going to break, but I promise you that nothing will be broken. Just try it.

Eliminate the Email App

The third suggestion to combat hustle is to delete email off of your phone. Take that app off! I did this a couple of weeks ago and it has been one of the most important decisions I’ve made in regards to finding a repeatable and scaleable rhythm for work.

I was frantically always looking at my phone and one of the main areas of time suck was the email app. I would just mindlessly open it throughout different points of the day, and even worse, when I was at home relaxing. When you open up your phone and check your email it will put you in a different mindset. If you truly want rest you need to break free from it.

These past two weeks sans-email app have been truly relaxing! When I wake up in the morning, I don’t check email until I get to the office around 9am. It really forces a person to realize that “I’m not as important as I think I am.” To put it in a positive direction: there usually is no problem so big that it can’t wait to be addressed until you want to address it.

Email forces you to address problems on other people’s schedule. When you take a step back and put boundaries around your email you will be able to address problems on your schedule.

Join the Team

I love my job. Chances are if you’re reading this post you love your job. I want to be loving my job for years and decades to come. One of the best ways to ensure that happens is through building a sustainable and scaleable rhythm for work that doesn’t involve being “on” 24/7/365.

Sustain your productivity. Sustain your love for your job. Join Team No Hustle today.

 

Morning routines don’t make great entrepreneurs, but all great entrepreneurs have a morning routine.

This post is going to be quick and direct, but so pivotal. The bottom line is, I wouldn’t be successful without a morning routine.

The importance of a morning routine

The fact is, all successful entrepreneurs have a morning routine. Even if it’s by default or intuitive rather than intentional, the it is there. The goal is to make your routine work for you.

My morning routine

Most days my alarm is set at 5:23. (I don’t like getting up unless it’s at an odd time.) I sneak in meditation time; I like starting my day in quiet. Then it’s the gym, to get the workout done and out of the way. Next, it’s back home for breakfast with the family. I get ready, head to the office where I have 9-11 AM blocked off every day. My meetings start at 11am, rarely before, because I need those 2 hours in the morning to get prepared and set my agenda for the day. That time also includes journaling and anywhere from 15-30 minutes of reading. This drastically improves the rest of my day.

Your Routine

If you don’t have a routine it’s time to start building one. I have a free template for you to help kickstart the process! Download this template to chart your morning routine. Let me know how it goes!

One of the most formidable foes an entrepreneur will face is fatigue. It can sneak up on you, and when it does, it can pull you down for long, long periods of time.

Earlier this week we discussed the importance of building in breaks to our daily, weekly, and monthly routines to keep our rhythm fresh and fatigue-free.

Now we’re going to tackle the practical side: the impact that our lifestyle choices can have on our energy and motivation levels!

Regular Exercise

The importance of getting regular exercise may seem like a no-brainer, but how many of us actually work out regularly? Working out has been one of the lifesavers in my battle against fatigue. It’s become a key non-negotiable. It must happen!

Working out clears mental clutter, gets out aggression, and oxygenates your brain. It also spikes endorphins which, generally speaking, makes you feel better throughout the day.

As goes the body, so goes the mind. Exercise will keep you on point mentally which will lead to overall rejuvenation.

Nutrition

I’m still learning how huge this component is. Up until 2 years ago, I didn’t give much thought at all to what I put in my body.

I’ve always had a pretty mean sweet tooth and would just cram as much junk as I could into my daily diet. And until I turned 30 there were no physical ramifications; my metabolism let me eat what I wanted to.

But as I get older, I know it’s important to eat better not only for metabolic reasons, but it also contributes to my overall energy levels. What you put in is what you get out. The food that you eat will contribute to your energy levels, which has a direct relationship with fatigue.

Cutting down significantly on carbs and sweets and upping my intake of protein, fruits, and veggies has become my regimen. In essence, clean eating! The importance of nutrition cannot be overstated.

Fighting the fatigue with diet can be as simple as having protein (nuts, sunflower seeds) in the afternoon instead of a sugary snack or coffee in the afternoon. Protein will keep those energy levels going instead of something sugary that will make you crash!

Talk It Out

Some of you may scoff at this, but talking about what you are feeling is one of the quickest ways to fight mental fatigue. Truthfully, not talking it through will add the weight of nobody knowing what you are going through. That is a heavy burden to bear.

By having mentors that I can talk to and say “Man, this is what I’m feeling – burnt out, frustrated, like I can’t push – you have been doing this longer, what did you do when you felt like this?” Even if the answer is something like “keep pushing,” it helps me greatly to know that somebody else knows what I am going through and has made it to the other side.

My mentors have been invaluable to me in helping me shape my thinking around fatigue. That there’s this thought that as entrepreneurs we’re supposed to be invincible; we never get sick or tired or frustrated or lonely. The reality is that isn’t true. Having people you can talk to who have experienced it and know the steps you need to take to push through is key to fighting fatigue.

Final Push

The fatigue is almost always mental. Very few of us work in jobs where there is a physical fatigue. Most people in 2015 have a job surrounding a desk and computers – that leads to mental fatigue. It’s pointless to try and push through fatigue; it’s like beating a dead horse.

Your mind is already fatigued – the horse is already dead – there’s no sense in pushing forward. You might actually do further damage if you don’t take time to recharge!

There’s a dangerous notion of “the hustle” and there are certain times and places for you to push. But if you pull a muscle when you’re working out, sometimes you can push through, but sometimes you need to rest and recuperate.

The difference in terms of longevity is to know the difference between discomfort and injury. You can push through discomfort. If you try to push through injury you will only make the situation worse. That is true of our muscles and of our mental capacity.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely battle. I want you in this for the long haul. I need you guys to take care of yourselves so that we can change the world together!