Replenish Your Reserve

As I write this post today, I’m waiting to hear back from a company who sought me out (and others apparently) for a large project. Fortunately, at this point in my career, I have a few irons in the fire, so if this one doesn’t come through it won’t matter much.

Nevertheless, for every interesting opportunity that comes my way I, like my entrepreneur comrades, will dig deep and spend days researching and writing up extensive proposals. We sacrifice sleep and family time to prepare a great  presentation. Sometimes it pays off in a grand way, but often times it doesn’t.

When rejection befalls us we sulk for a bit, feel drained, think about what we learned from that experience and how we’d play it differently. Yet, when the next opportunity arises, almost reflexively, we re-ignite the fire and jump into action with the same grit and gusto. That’s just what entrepreneurs do.

What I find interesting, is the seemingly endless mental and physical energy reserve we have. It’s a marvel of the human brain and spirit to keep dipping into that reserve again and again until the win. Does this reserve replenish on its own? Or are there things we should do to replenish that capacity lest it run dry? Here are 5 ways to keep your mental and physical reserve capacity filled to the brim and accessible when opportunity knocks:

1. Regularly engage in activities or hobbies where you repeatedly and consistently experience success.
2. Make every rejection a learning experience. Try to get feedback from the decision-makers. Or sit down with a mentor to go over your material to identify weak points.
3. Maximize your focus and attention skills as missing details, assumptions, misspeaks or a lack of clarification are often the culprits behind rejection.
4. Be sure your sleep and exercise regimens are optimal. They are the engines behind our mood, resilience and physical endurance.
5. As you evolve as an entrepreneur, know when to say “no” to an opportunity where the ROI is minimal. Save “yes” for the truly exciting opportunities where the payoff is great either as a win or as a significant learning experience.

Too many rejections and not enough wins? CoreCoaching may help. Contact me at [email protected]

Perpetuate Success

It’s a given. As an entrepreneur, you accept the fact that you may go many weeks, months and years to experience a success. However, the patience and resilience required to stay upbeat, while it appears that everyone else is “killin’ it” on Facebook, can take a toll on your well-being. Research shows that the age-old adage “success breeds success” is real. I suggest you stoke the fires of optimism, confidence and motivation in your startup by incorporating successes into your life unrelated to work.

Dr. Michael A. Freeman, psychiatrist and entrepreneur, researches entrepreneurship and mental health and advises founders: “Build a life centered on the belief that self-worth is not the same as net worth. Other dimensions of your life should be part of your identity.”

Whether you’re a parent, a volunteer in your community, a musician, or a mountain climber on weekends, it’s important to feel successful in other areas of your life. No matter what your endeavor, create a plan for achieving a personal best. Your goal should be reasonable enough to make the chance of success high, and it should be just beyond your comfort zone to feel the rush of a challenge met.

Another option is to create success for others. If you are crunched for time, find an afternoon once a month to help a struggling student in math, or offer mentoring to a young entrepreneur club in your area. Sharing victories can be just as perpetuating.

Racking up successes outside of work can reinforce an upward spiral of winning at work.

Need help racking up personal victories? Consider CoreFourCoaching. Contact me at [email protected]  

Help Your Home Life Survive a Startup: Avoid the Spillover Effect

Founders who are passionate and obsessed with their startup, work long hours and leave work stressed out tend to bring that tension home. Perhaps you’ve heard the following refrains:

You seem so distant when we are together.

Are you hearing me?

There’s no need to raise your voice over this.

If the answer is yes, the stress from work is spilling over into your home life. This is making your home life less satisfying, which puts you in a worse mood when you return to work the next morning. Unless the spillover effect is tempered early on, this cycle only intensifies.

Here are my top three suggestions for reducing the spillover effect:

  • If you tend to come home and want to kick the dog, accept that you may need a buffer before you walk in the door. For example, stop off at the gym for 30 minutes to exercise, or decompress on the drive home by listening to soothing music or a comedy podcast.
  • Re-frame the sources of stress that could have a positive outcome. For example, a prima donna employee who threatens to leave may be a welcome loss. Or a demanding, but caring customer who is pointing out deficiencies in your product may be doing you a great service.
  • Instead of letting your evening be consumed by complaints and worries  open up a journal and write down, complete with expletives and emojis, the stressors and your feelings about them. If your partner wants to hear about your day, at least you’ll have exploded on paper prior to walking in the door. Writing things down also helps you move from emotional to problem-solving (critical thinking) mode a bit faster.

Need more help regulating your response to startup stress? Share your story with us at [email protected], and I’ll blog back some solutions!

Let’s Have Some Fun Being Accountable

If you ask your staff, What are you doing to get more done?, you’ll get a some blank stares and some good answers like: I limit social media, filter email, turn off my phone, shorten conversations, etc. The follow-up question results in more blank stares: How well are those efforts paying off?

Because I’m known to be somewhat of a task master, when I say to my clients – Hey, this exercise will be fun! I get a few smirks. It has elements of surprise and learning that helps the bottom line, and makes for good group discussions, so it’s within the realm of “fun.” Here’s how it works:

Each staff member cuts out five 4 inch strips of paper. They write a day of the week on each strip, mix them up and put them in an envelope. For four weeks, at the end of the work week, each person closes their eyes and picks out one day of the week from their envelope. If they pick “Wednesday” they need to recall what they did for every hour on Wednesday. If they don’t remember, they can look back on their plan for the week (assuming that they had a plan!!) to see what work was accomplished or how they spent their time. At first, the reports are pretty dismal, the average report ranges from 30-40% productive use of work time.

This exercise has many advantages: It makes people more conscientious about how they use their time at work. It helps one see the value in making a plan for each day. Knowing that Friday is coming up soon, and not knowing which day will be pulled, improves the consistency of their efforts. It also helps one use the anti-distraction strategies more consistently and judge their effectiveness. This exercise also makes leadership clarify expectations for productivity.

I shared this exercise with three different companies.  By the 3rd week, at all three facilities, productivity overall kicked up between 20-30%! Now, that’s fun!

Give it a try at your startup, and let me know the results!                                        [email protected].


Coaching Up or Out?

In my last CE post I talked about coaching valuable, but problematic employees. I will refer to these employees as Ms. or Mr. X.

In hindsight, you may have noticed these problems (a haughty attitude, lack of cooperation,frequent complaining, etc) coming early on, but chalked it up to Ms. or Mr. X being “new to the team.”

You get busy, and in the back of your mind, you hope that Ms. or Mr. X  will respond to peer pressure, conform and the problem will vanish. It’s highly unlikely.

So, the next question is − coach up or coach out Ms. or Mr. X? Prior to that sit-down conversation, prepare your talking points. What characteristics will make this employee coachable? Is Ms. or Mr. X:

  • open to learning? (Ask for examples.)
  • confident enough to accept their limitations? (What are they and do you agree on the problem behaviors?)
  • ready to listen and appreciate the gift of criticism (Ask for examples.)
  • willing to persevere to change (How will change become visible immediately?)

If “coaching up” is the decision, then create a plan to monitor these changes (daily, weekly or biweekly check-ins and by whom). Expect the employee to summarize in writing this meeting and the commitment to change. That is your documentation. Review the plan for accuracy.

You may think this process is a “bit tough” on the employee in question. Yes, they may pass on the challenge and quit. But, in fact, you are helping Ms. or Mr. X succeed in the workplace and in life. You are also demonstrating leadership and supporting your team by addressing the aberrant behavior head on.

Founders: Interested in learning more about building core leadership skills? Send along your queries and workplace conundrums to me at [email protected]              

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