Last week, I was invited to speak at Mike Michalowicz’s high-level Profit First Professionals mastermind group that was held at Don Miller’s estate here in Nashville.
If you’re unfamiliar with him, Don is the author of Building A Story Brand and, more recently, Business Made Simple. He was asked about his daily habits, and he shared that the first thing he does in the morning is write for about 3 hours. Don then made an offhand comment that was one of the most thought-provoking ideas I’ve heard in a long time. He said, “If I don’t write every day, in 3 years this business dies.”
I immediately wrote down the following: If I don’t __________ every day, in 3 years my business dies.
This can, of course, be used in any number of contexts. If I don’t ________ every day, my marriage dies. If I don’t _________ every day, my relationship with my friends/family/kids dies. If I don’t __________ every day, in 3 years my financial freedom dies. If I don’t ________ every day, I die.
So often, we don’t give weight to the mundane, daily things we do to at least maintain, if not advance, our situations, focusing on the immediate and urgent instead of thinking, planning and acting for the long term. Three years is a good framework to consider because if you shorten it, you get frivolous answers such as “eat” every day, or “breathe.” Make it too far ahead, and you can’t get a grasp of the consequences, or you feel you have “enough time” to fix a situation.
When you neglect the mundane, non-urgent matters that pay off in the long term, cancer has begun its work. Initially, the neglect goes undetected and undiagnosed. But by the time it has manifested into symptoms, it may be irreversible, or the treatment extremely invasive, painful and difficult to bear.
A client coming to me who is in his 60s, ready to retire but without the savings, thinks he can just sell his business for several million and be good – but quickly discovers nobody wants to buy his job. He should have started 10 years ago building something worth selling that delivered equity, not just income. He spent 30+ years running on a gerbil wheel. Busy, but not profitable and productive.
It seems to me that over and over again, too many people major in minor things, wasting their time and attention on distractions, low-money work and unimportant details. The conversations in the hallways of many IT events in our space and on social media are mostly about the tech and mechanics of doing the work – very, very little about the business side of running and growing the business, marketing, sales, profits, people and strategy. All energy and focus put on TODAY, yet procrastinating on and outright neglecting things that will put them in a much better position 3+ years from now.
I would suggest you take a moment to make sure you are really, really crystal clear about what you want in your life and, subsequently, in your business. What is your “enough is enough” number? What do you want your business to look like in 3-5 years? Perform like? What types of employees and clients do you want? How much free time do you want? What work will you be doing, and who will be doing the things you aren’t doing, aren’t good at but very, very necessary for success? What do you want your relationships with your spouse and kids to be like? What about your physical fitness and health goals?
You need to determine for yourself what YOU want and stop carrying around unnecessary baggage and head trash on why you can’t get ahead, can’t make more money, can’t grow the business, can’t find good people, can’t figure it out.
You get what you tolerate, and if you find yourself plagued with low performance, misery, dysfunction or pain in any area of your life and business AND you’re not taking aggressive, daily actions to fix it, you’re CHOOSING that in your life.
I trust that most of my subscribers have enough smarts to come in from outside if it’s raining, unlike the vast majority of people walking around. If you’re reading this, you clearly are smarter than the average bear, because dummies don’t read content like this to improve themselves. They’re on TikTok watching cats jump away from cucumbers.
So, I hope you agree that this type of long-term thinking and clear determination about what IS critical and what IS NOT critical is a subject worth considerable thought. The answer might not jump to mind, and there may be more than one thing. This IS one of the key things that separates successful people from the rest. We invest time into thinking.
I hope you are as provoked as I was to make a list and spend time carefully thinking about your own time investments and choices over what you do every day, every week, and every month.
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