So, with a look back at 5 years in operation, what are 5 key things to take forward into the future that might work for you:
1) Do what feels right
Coming into self employment from over two decades in the corporate world provided a certain liberation to the extent that you make your own rules. That provides both freedom and uncertainty. Freedom in that you can choose what to do or not do. Uncertainty in a world with almost limitless choices; which ones do you make? As time has gone on it has become more and more apparent that trusting your own gut instinct is usually the right decision. From an inclination mid way through a keynote to follow an impromptu line of thought, to deciding to not work with a particular project because it just “didn’t feel right”, to agreeing to do pro bono work at times when there were bills that needed to be paid – doing what feels right invariably created a good outcome.
2) There are peaks and troughs
No matter what you do in life it wont be a flat line of momentum. The world has economic cycles. People’s outlook changes with the seasons. Don’t you usually feel better and more enthused with the sun on your back? So too in business. A wise man told me when I asked him what advice he would give me as I set out under my own banner: ” Toddy, when you’re the busiest as a one man band is when you also need to be busiest marketing. If you’re not when you stop being busy there’ll be nothing in front of you”. Wise words indeed! But that’s life too isn’t it? We’re not figuratively sprinting all the time. Sometimes we walk, sometimes we run and sometimes we run for our lives! And if we don’t stop and sleep sometimes then we wont have the energy to move when we need to.
3) Serendipity – it’s real
Have you ever thought to yourself one of these two things? Either ” I knew that was going to happen” or “that was just meant to be”. Things happen for a reason. Right place, right time and all that. At one point I found myself travelling with a limited time between flights at Wellington airport. Do I just sit and wait, or do I go walk about and see what’s happening in the airport? The walking decision won. “As luck would have it” I met up with the General Manager of a Company that I had been having email and telephone traffic with in an effort to meet. He was similarly between flights so our previously “impossible” meeting became a reality. As it turned out the opportunity was for me to refer a friend to work with his company and they ended up doing some work together. What if I had decided to sit and wait? So the serendipity – making a desirable discovery by accident – came to pass. Or was it an accident?
4) Know what matters
This applies in a business sense and in a personal sense. I’ve been amazed at the number of businesses I have been invited in to where the awareness of the company’s main drivers, goals, vision, values, mission statement – call them what you will – are not known to those actually delivering the service. If you don’t know what the company is trying to achieve then how do you know that what you are doing on a daily basis is contributing to that? And at a personal level, what is it that’s important to you? When faced with a decision as to which option to take, being clear about either what you stand for or what outcome you want make the decision process so much simpler.
5) Not everyone sees things the same way
Stating the obvious? It probably is. But I encourage you to keep it in mind. As the deliverer of a message in many different situations, it continues to be very important to understand that your audience will be made up of people who have different views of the same situation. In recent months I have been engaged in a significant project that has in many ways polarised the community. Having an inside knowledge of the project I do have a sense that a lot of the polarity is generated by ignorance of the total picture. There can also be an unwillingness from those of a particular persuasion to be open to the possibility that there may be an alternate way of viewing the situation. The communication of an idea is something that the TED Talks movement has become synonymous with. Chris Anderson is the President of TED Talks. I invite you to read an excellent article on public speaking from Chris that includes a video clip in which he talks about the importance of knowing the idea you want to communicate. Clicking here will take you to the article. The same article is posted on the Toddy Talks Facebook page too if you’d prefer to access it there. The Facebook icon at the bottom of this page will take you there.