Creativity is such a buzz word. Everyone is talking about getting creative. But, putting all trends aside, creativity is a part of our human nature. So to be human is to create. We create everyday. For instance, if we look at just how we create our mornings we'd see, for example, that we create our outfit for the day, we create what we eat for breakfast, and we create our plans for how to most effectively get through our day. These are things we do anew every morning and we've formed a habit to create these things in the morning. Therein lies the secret. Habit. Creating a habit is probably one of the most important things you could create. It's actually quite wonderful to know that creativity is something that is innate in us and that we already know how to be creative. So creating the habit just means acknowledging that and then taking action. Today, I am going to write about getting more in touch with that most human part of us and tap into a incredibly intelligent resource within us to create huge results in our work...
Have you ever been witness to a firefly show? I grew up in the Midwest and it's an understatement to say I am fascinated by fireflies. It is much more accurate to claim that I am obsessed.
Fireflies are cool for many reasons. I have studied fireflies informally for many years. From learning about their behavior to the energy efficient light they give off. That light is now being studied formally at UC Berkeley to see if they can recreate it.
It is the light that draws us to the firefly. That subtle, consistent blinking light is the way this little bug communicates with other fireflies. If you've had the pleasure of witnessing them, it is a beautiful, subtle, dance of survival for this species. They NEED to attract other fireflies in order to mate and continue their species through time. This communication is delivered with precision and when done right, a whole community of fireflies will blink their light in unison, as if proclaiming..."i've got your back, I'm here for you, you are not alone." It's quite inspiring. I realized when I was forming my business almost 5 years ago, that fireflies shaped my philosophy on communication and marketing hence the namesake Firefly Strategies. They communicate strategically and here's what I learned.
When we plan, whether it's a personal plan, a business marketing plan, or a non profit development plan, we assume we are going to be successful. We work hard to make sure the plan will lead us to success. But, there are many things that can cause delays and even derail us from our end goals and outcomes. But, most plans do not have a crisis component built into it. That is a mistake because ANYTHING could go wrong, I've seen some of the best laid plans fail miserably because something went wrong.
When a crisis occurs you might be able to maintain it internally without news leaking to the public, but more often than not the public finds out. So, plan for the plan failing, plan for a crisis and plan that the news will go public. Here are 3 things you must do when managing this kind of crisis.
Not too long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage and do WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. In fact, I know MANY businesses, organizations and individuals that have or currently are incredibly stressed out and exhausted due to juggling too many roles, hats, or whatever you label all of your work and personal life responsibilities.
I know that sometime, there just isn't any way out of it. Hiring someone is just not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern, and volunteers, though great, just don't have the skills to do what you need done.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" You create systems. If you had systems in place, you would eliminate quite a bit of time explaining things, and doing work from scratch, or I'm even guilty of this, doing something totally different from before because I forgot how I did it last. Also, when systems are in place, then you do feel comfortable hiring someone and recruiting an intern or volunteer. You and they know exactly what needs to happen what they need to be accomplishing. There is less time spent in training and orientation because documented systems can serve as training material. So here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as you can.
By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, I can feel that my body is ready to stop. My focus starts to go onto other things like baking, sewing projects, house shopping, hiking, getting the garden ready....everything else but business related work. Though I'd LOVE to stop and just dive right in to these other projects, I can't do that always. There is an endless list of things to get to in my business. I get even more weird about finishing my week a few hours early because, we're supposed to work until 5pm, AT LEAST, if we want to advance our careers, or so I've been reading. "Lean In" is what Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook tells us in her new book. But, all I want to do is lean into some of my red forest cupcakes that I'm dying to make!
Breakdowns. It can happen. In fact, it happened to me, or shall I say, it happened to my car. But, it feels like a personal breakdown too. So why did this breakdown occur and what can I learn from it? Well to start, a key gauge in the car made it look like everything was fine. No lights were flashing, no check engine alerts. From where I was sitting, all seemed fine. Then yesterday, I heard this horrible knocking sound coming from the engine. Today, it broke down.
Personal breakdowns are similar to this. From the outside, everything looks good, or at least this is how you present yourself to others. That you've got it all under control. In fact people always say how in control you always are. You are smiling at everyone you meet, no one knows that secretly things are being neglected in your life and you are approaching or are on the brink of a breakdown. Are you eating well? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting enough time to yourself and some r and r? Are you working out and are you taking your vitamins...the list can go on. But, these are some of the essential areas to keep your attention on in order to avoid break downs, personal ones at least. Also, everyone's essentials list is a little different. For instance, for me specifically, I would add to this list drinking enough water because I tend not to. I get dried out very easily and this depletes my energy. In order to do all the things I do in my life, keeping my energy is essential, so staying hydrated is a must.
Businesses can have breakdowns also. Again, there are essential functions that cannot be neglected or overlooked. Are you looking at your projected cash flows? What expenses are coming up? What leads do you have in the pipeline? What marketing actions are you taking everyday, weekly, monthly and yearly? Do you have a strategy on growing your business or you just winging it? Here again, the list can go on, but these are some of the essential ingredients for avoiding a business breakdown.
In all of these instances the cost of a break down is huge. So note my mistake and heed my advice. Make a list today of the essential things you need in your daily life, or at least regularly in your life for all areas, in order to stay at the top of your game and avoid having a breakdown of any kind.
My first blog of the New Year, WOOHOO! What's it about? Not giving up. Yes, I know it's still a little early to give up. Various articles on the web site statistics that people give up on their resolutions within weeks of setting them. Here it is just 5 days into the year and I would bet that many of us are already slacking a bit. I'm here to tell you that it's okay to slack, but don't give up. You see, sometimes we slack because something internally is off. We either need a break from the rigidity, or our body just wanted to head down a different path one day. Other times, starting something at the beginning of the year is too much pressure so you are stressed out about your resolution. You are making it too hard on yourself. And then there are instances where the way you are approaching or have acted on your resolution might not be the right way to go about it. In other words, there are many reasons why the majority of us don't find sticking to resolutions a walk in the park. Even getting out to the park on these blistery winter days in Santa Fe are hard!
It is later than I wanted it to be for getting my last tip of this series out to you all. Today, I had all sorts of things I needed to get done and of course there just aren't enough hours in the day, right?! Well, in all honesty, I knew that I would be writing this entry later tonight. I had my day pretty planned out. Though the baby put a few hiccups in my schedule, most everything happened when I had planned to have them completed. So why did the blog get left for the last thing of the night? I write more thoughtfully and clearly when I am relaxed. I knew that if I had all the MAJOR things of the day done, I would feel relaxed and then write a worthy entry...one worth posting! I thought I would be writing around 10:00 pm tonight, but it's closer to 11:00 pm now. That's okay. I've learned that when it comes to managing time, there are often days when you have to accept what is dealt to you, or roll with the punches, or just go with the flow.
Really, being an entrepreneur demands flexibility. So, I am. But, being flexible isn't just relegated to entrepreneurs. This mindset and spirit needs to be adopted by everyone trying to make a difference in this world, whether you are a non profit, a small business, or an individual . I like to call this time in our lives the Entrpreneurial Era. We live in a time where we all need to think and act much like entrepreneurs. Consider this an invitation to start taking the entrepreneurial approach in life, business and the pursuit of happiness. So what does that look like exactly?
TIP 7: Learn to navigate through your days with an open-mind, flexibility, and the willingness to embrace change.
That's basically the entrepreneurial approach. Let's examine these characteristics a bit further, shall we?
First, keeping an open mind. This is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs usually learn as they go and so, keeping an open mind allows you to receive. You WANT to receive, advice, criticism, help, and support. The only way you will see these sorts of opportunity is to let go of the idea that you already know everything. So when you hear criticism you can see the point. When someone offers you help, you accept with open arms. When someone offers you advice you really listen t o what they are saying.
Second is flexibility. Being okay with things not going exactly the way you planned, can also open doors for an entrepreneur. It's in the failures and the set backs that we experience growth. That is true for our business as well. However, you have to be flexible enough to see these things and "bend" and go along with what's happening. You will either grow as a business, or grow as a person, knowing it's time to move on to a new business idea. Here's a tip inside of a tip...entrepreneurs don't give up when they fail. They try and try again. So closing one business does not mean they are done. They look for the next big idea. I would adopt this characteristic as well!
Finally, embrace change. This may seem a bit redundant with being flexible, but here is the difference. Being flexible requires you to bend and go along with what's happening. Change requires you step out of the way completely for a new way and then you fully embrace the new way of being. These changes can be transformational and provide an exponential benefit to you and your business or organization. It can also be very painful to have to move away from an original concept or idea. But, with due time, you emerge as a beautiful butterfly able to cover much larger spans of space because now you can fly, rather than crawling your way through life as a caterpillar.