Friday, 28 September 2012

Success ... You vs. Society

“Show me the money!” Jerry Mcguire (Tom Cruise) screamed in a public restroom as his client urged him on in.

“A, B, C! A-Always! B-Be! C-Closing! Always Be Closing!” yelled Blake (Alec Baldwin) at the sales team in Glengarry Glen Ross.

“You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.” States Dominic (Armand Assante) in American Gangster.

These are the kind of things we hear when success is talked about on film. And boy do we put a lot of stock in the philosophies we see come out of Hollywood. The funny thing is, most of these ideas of success are shown to be wrong in the films they are presented in. Usually the nice guy comes out on top and the hardcore theories are put out to pasture. But then guess what. Those hardcore theories are what translate into the real world! We ignore the lesson learned in the film and go with the bad guy’s definition of success.

We yell, “Show me the money!”
We try to “Always be closing.”
We accept that to have success we will make enemies.


Society seems to have this accepted definition of success that is based on accumulating as much money as possible to buy things and gain influence. If someone gets in your way, you move them or step on them or whatever you have to. This is what we are told is necessary to make it in the world of business.

Even when we look at parts of our society that are somewhat more laid back, we can still see that happening. Family life in the suburbs. Everyone is calm and peaceful. Sure Dave will give up a full Saturday to help his neighbor Garry build a deck. But when Garry asks for $100 to sponsor his kid’s softball team ... woah, thats one of those requests that is stepping over the line buddy. Why? Because it involves that thing that we have decided defines success in our society. The almighty dollar! I’ll give you my time, I’ll give you my sweat, heck I’ll give you my family’s time and sweat, but don’t ask for my $$$$$$!

Do you get the feeling that I have a bit of a hate on for how much influence money has in our society? Well I suppose I do.

Money is a great tool. An important tool. It is a wonderful way to convert our effort and time into things we need. It is a lot easier to work at one thing and earn some money to go grocery shopping at one store, than to have to work an hour for your milk at the dairy farmer’s, then another hour at the potato farm for some potatoes and so on. It is a great tool for converting our time and effort into whatever we want. The problem is, we have turned it into something much bigger than that, something it isn’t.

We have taken this tool and turned it into the determining factor of a human being’s worth! We put a dollar amount on success. Most of us have probably heard some magic number from our parents when we were young. “A good job will pay at least $xxxxxx per year.” Look at that judgement! If the job pays less than $xxxxxx it is not a good job! Its a bad job! That means you are not doing good until you can show a tax statement that says $xxxxxx on it!

So we get the job that pays $xxxxxx. But we can’t walk around showing everyone our pay stubs or talking about how much we make. But we have to show our “success” somehow. So we buy stuff that could only be afforded by someone who makes $xxxxxx. We buy the 3000 square foot home, the 2 cars, the 4 tv’s and the boat. But then we notice. Hmmmm, everybody seems to have that, I don’t look successful if I have the same as everyone else. I need to be above average. So then we buy the giant motor home, and then so does Jessica down the street, then Carl from the cul-de-sac buys one that blocks out the sun. You see the snowball building? It is a horrible big nasty snowball that rolls all over our cities and towns getting bigger and bigger, consuming everything in it’s path!

The question I ask is, “How many people who have all of these “indicators of success” are actually happy with their lives?”

There is nothing wrong with 3000 square foot homes, or having 2 cars, or 4 tvs, or a boat, or a motor home. These things can be absolute blessings...

...IF they are the things YOU actually want.

So many boats sit unused. So many motor homes only roll out of the driveway twice per year. So many homeowners complain about how much “stuff” they have cluttering their garage where they would park their 2 cars if there was space. And the solution? Get a bigger place, because we can’t get rid of all this stuff that shows how successful we are. (insert exasperated sigh here).

If we really look at what we actually want for our own life and stopped caring about what society says we should want, we could avoid this kind of situation.

Do not allow the world to judge you by your bank account!

Don’t worry about showing the world that you can meet society’s definition of success. In the end, you need to care about making you and those you love happy. Not impressing the neighbors (they will probably move away to bigger houses to store all their junk anyway. Either that or to a smaller house so they can try to pay off all the debt they incurred trying to impress the neighborhood).

They only way to take control of this and avoid being run over by that giant snowball is to acknowledge your own definition of success.

If you would like some help finding your personal definition of success, check out these workshops and retreats coming up over the next couple of months.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Work / Life Balance. Don't Do It!

Work/Life balance. Let's see, if I understand a scale correctly, that means an equal amount of work and life. I know, I know ... no one means it that literally. But really? Balancing life and work? Really?

To me, work means the things you do to earn money so that you can purchase the things you need to live. Life means your existence as a human being. I could see work/play balance, or work/recreation balance. But work/life balance?

Is this just semantics? I don't think it is. Life includes time spent with family and friends, recreation, hobbies, volunteering, taking care of your home, teaching your kids, and the list goes on. Life is huge! Should your work be put in equal footing with it? I don't know about you, but that is not the way I want to spend my life. Work is simply another part of life. Once we elevate it to be something bigger than that, we run into real danger of burnout and a lack of happiness and fulfillment.

The work we do is a tool. Whether you love your work or hate it, it pays to remember it is simply a tool. It's purpose is to provide the material things you need in order to enjoy life.

Kathy Ireland said it like this, 
"My beliefs are that the business needs to serve the family rather than the family serve the business."

Work is a healthy part of any responsible person's life. We all need to do it in one way or another. If we can find a way to do it that we really enjoy, then that is great! I love the idea of finding your passion and bringing it into your work. But we can't let that work become the overwhelming force in our lives. That is when we lose touch with life and run the risk of having our work take over completely.

Keep your business and work in it's place, as a tool to provide for your life, as a servant to you instead of a master. Then live life like it was meant to be, using your time strengthening your happiness and that of those around you!

(In my upcoming book "Life Support - Reviving Your Life in the Midst of Business" I will be covering the idea of viewing your business as a tool in much more depth. I would appreciate any comments you have on the topic, just write them below!)

Monday, 3 September 2012

Do Your Loved Ones Support You as an Entrepreneur?

No matter what your career is, it will have an effect on the people who are close to you. If you are an entrepreneur, that effect can be amplified tremendously.

Having your spouse (or significant other) on  board with what you are doing is imperative if you want success in both business and life.

If you are an entrepreneur, you know that your time and finances can be very unpredictable at times. You may have a month of 14 hour days followed by weeks of inactivity with the financial repercussions of that following close behind. That is something that you accept as part of the territory, especially in the early stages of a business. But what about those who are close to you?

Do your spouse and children feel good with this part of the territory?
Do they understand that your busy times lead to financial gain?
Do they know that you will have times of elation and times of deep worry?
Do they want to walk with you through the good and the bad?
Do they know that you want them there through it all?

We entrepreneurs plan out our businesses to the tiniest of details, but we often forget to look at how it will effect those we love. Knowing the answers to the questions above will be a good start towards ensuring your business will nor damage your relationships.

If you are fortunate, you already have a supportive family who understand what you are trying to build with your business. If that is the case, make sure they know that you appreciate them. Show them every day that they are important to you and that you need them as you move forward.

If your family is not that supportive, then it is up to you to discover why. Do they not buy into what you are doing? Are they worried for you? Do they simply not enjoy the life of entrepreneurship? Ask them! Show them that they are important to you and that you want them to walk with you on your journey, not just stand on the sidelines and accept the consequences that fall from your actions and decisions.

You will probably find that, if you make your loved ones feel like they are a part of what you are doing, they will support you. Allow them to be involved in the process of living an entrepreneurial way of life. This could mean that they are a part of your actual business, or that they understand the emotional support you need from them, or that they help you set goals and remind you of your vision. Each family is different and you will have to find what works for yours. The important thing is that they feel involved.

If you can find a way to have them feel like an important part of what you are doing, great! Move ahead as a team. If that bond doesn't seem to exist then you need to face a very serious question. Which is more important to you? Your business or your loved ones? Are you willing to lose one to have the other?

Success in business and life means paying attention to both. If your loved ones do not support your life as an entrepreneur, you are destined to fail in at least one of those areas.

In almost all cases, you will be able to find a way to mold your family into a supportive team where everyone feels important and rewarded. Be creative, make sure everyone has a voice and find that bond. This will lead you all toward success and happiness.

Heaven forbid, if those you truly love and truly love you back just can't be a part of what your goals are; chose your loved ones.

Your family and friends are an important part of your success. They all want to see you thrive and be happy. Let them be a part of what you do and express to them how much you appreciate them. Give yourself to making them happy as well, supporting them in their goals through the good and the bad as they do for you. This will strengthen all of you and set you on a path toward true success enjoyed in a warm bond of happiness and fulfillment.