No matter where you are coming from, being the owner, founder, or c-suite executive, brings great weights on your shoulders. These weights are in addition to your other roles in life, including: Parent, Child, Spouse, Sibling, Relative, Community Leader, and many more. Fort this paper, Let’s just consider the burdens of your business ownership or leadership role in business.
Most people want to do the best they can, or better, and not compromise on their commitments to their business and the people who are involved. The stakeholders are many, even in a small business, and include employees, direct reports, investors, advisors, partners, among others. Each one of the constituents that surround you, have varying sets of expectations, demands, problems, issues that are brought up to you by them, or on their behalf, each carrying their own extra weight on you, whether you are involved or not.
As entrepreneurs, we know how challenging it can be to:
- Make Payroll
- Increase Working Capital and Cash Flow
- Raise Money, before the business runs-out of it
- React to Competitors advances and changes in the market
- Deal with the Loss of Key People in the Business
- Manage Your Teams who deliver (or Not) for the business, but carry their own issues surrounding their own purposes and roles in life
- Keep the Organization aligned and morale high, and
If you are not operating as your Best Self, then that will trickle down and affect the rest of the organization. As the business leader or owner, your shadow carries a lot of weight in your organization and among it’s many stakeholders. It’s important that you represent your Best Self, so that others will follow through your leadership and example.
This implies that if you also operate more as your Best Self, you can get the best from your teams and organization, and operate more effectively, in the most mature ways. There is also a strong correlation, to you as the owner or business leader, from these meanings that are applicable to the business as well. Choosing to be the best business, often needs these considerations for success.
Here are the 11 Things you can do and what it means to be your Best Self:
1. It’s Important to Enjoy What you do!
Let’s start off with an easy way to be your Best Self. We all do better when we enjoy what we do. There is a saying, that mystically still rings true: “If you enjoy what you do, everything else comes along with it.” It’s a proven motivator, that you think better, make better decisions, and over time, the compensation that you need*, will be available to you and you will also tend to live longer.
- Is there Balance in Your Life and Those of Your Employees?
- Do People Smile Contagiously in your company?
- How does your team define fun?
2. It’s Important to Enjoy What you do!
Maslo, the famous Psychologist Philosopher puts this item on top of his Needs Pyramid for a reason. Purpose is what motivates most of us and ALSO drives a higher degree of happiness. (And if you are happy, enjoying what you do, that relates to Rule #1). Purpose is critical in setting your site on goals that then tell you WHY you are doing what you are doing and keep you on the right path to get there. If you have goals, and achieve them, you will also get a strong feeling of accomplishment to your endeavors, in effect pushing you to a better self.
- Are your business goals clear to everyone in your business?
- Are they consistent amongst your team?
3. Make Room for Mistakes
Do you believe that to be your Best Self, you need to be Perfect! Now that is whacked! We are human, and humans make mistakes. And, its clear, most of us, LEARN from them. In the book, “Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell points out that anyone can be an expert in anything, as long as they “Practice” for 10,000 hours. That includes Professional musicians, athletes, chefs, and more.
Don’t think that these experts don’t make mistakes. They certainly make their fair share in all those hours, and learn to work around and not repeat them. Making mistakes is also a sign of conquering fears and raising the bar on your effectiveness. Without mistakes, you may not improve yourself.
Being your Best Self means pushing your limit’s and not being afraid to try. Get out of your comfort zone, but assess and manage the risks or understanding the outcome. Business today is often too stuck in the fateful paradigm “If you always do, what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten.” And more importantly, don’t be embarrassed or afraid of trying something new. It’s never how you look or what you say, even if it’s silly, or gets a laugh. Innovation, and Being Better, is an integrated Mantra of successful Business Owners, and being your Best Self.
- How easy is it do to something new in your organization? Is it encouraged to generate new ideas or to take risks?
- When you take risks, do you measure the returns? Do you De-Brief and Understand What Didn’t work and Why?
4. Knowing your Strengths and Weaknesses
It’s important to take stock about your Best Self and be clear about your strengths and weaknesses. In order to do better at things, and to leverage your capabilities and competencies, you must know how to balance the two. Use your strengths whenever necessary, in the short run, and you can always improve and make them betters. For your weaknesses, it’s important to know that you MUST fill in the gaps. It’s important to know what your weaknesses may be so you know what you need to do to be a better you. If you are a technical founder/owner, and you are having troubles with cash-flow, you may want to take businesses or financial classes to better understand your lagging business indicators in finance. Or, conversely, ensuring you have a trustworthy person in the financial role that “schools” you on the financials if you are really committed to growing your business revenue, profit’s and market positions.
While we are discussing growth, remember that “Growth Always Hides a Myriad of Sins” as we all experience this in fast growth tech markets. This really speaks to the fact that if you are experience double and triple digit growth, and you are not sure of how to operate the business effectively, then many compromises will be made, and sub-optimal decisions will be taken, during these periods.
And, those mistakes and holes will definitely show up at the first sign of slower or slowing growth and become obvious. Hopefully you will have time to “right the ship,” that is if you understand what is best to do…
Another point about your strengths and weaknesses is how your view yourself, versus how others view you. It’s not only important to establish your own view but know how others view you and yours. Closing those Gaps will be important to take stock and improve yourself. Imagine sitting at polar ends of your capability to listen… Your view and others… Now that is a dilemma that must be pursued.
Consider that knowing your strengths and weaknesses, implies that to improve yourself, and being better, means you can accept criticism and listening to feedback from friends and colleagues. While it appears to be easy, surrounding yourself with “Yes” People is COUNTER-STRATEGIC to being your Best Self.
When you know your weaknesses, you can close the gaps through education or surrounding yourself with complementary people. To be your Best Self, remember it takes a Community to succeed. Successful Owners realize they cannot do it all.
- Do you rely on friends, advisors, mentors or a board for feedback to focus your strengths and fill the gaps in weaknesses?
- Are you Effective at Delegating to Others Who Are Experts in Their Fields?
- Do you inventory your strengths and weaknesses, rate them and update them periodically?
- Are you aware of how others view your strengths and weaknesses?
5. Being Committed and doing your Best
We all know there is a difference between “giving something a try…” and “being committed to doing your best.” If you are not committed to doing your best, and you fall short of a goal, how will you feel? How will your team feel? In being your Best Self, there is no do-over and you don’t want to have any feelings of regret or remorse. If you want to keep your confidence and the confidence of your team, if you don’t give it your best and be present and committed, you might not get others to follow you again.
However, everyone recognizes, including yourself, that if you come in second or third in a race, but you gave it your best, how will you feel? Will you want to try again? Of course you will. There is nothing wrong with coming in second or third. Humans are constantly evolving, breaking previous records, getting smarter and faster. But you must give your all, so you don’t regret or have remorse for your efforts, and you can feel good about yourself and get ready to do it again, if that is what you want to be your Best Self.
- Are you able to get your head in the game and give it your best? Are you “in the zone” when you do things?
- How do you handle the stress in your life when you are competing or performing? Do others notice the affect of stress on you?
- Do you often have Regrets? How Does it make you feel?
6. Improving and Developing Good Habits
Even Entrepreneurs need to develop and improve good habits for their businesses to succeed. I know this firsthand, as a serial entrepreneur and Divergent Thinker and Innovator, it’s critical to know when to stop researching and expanding the base of knowledge around customer’s needs, personas, messaging, and balance with the value proposition, business economics, and product viability. If you are involved more with the revenue side of the business, sales, marketing, business development, deal-making etc., you know it’s important to constantly feed the pipelines and that sales is based on numerical formulas to manage effectively.
Many consultants live in a world of feast to famine where they get busy on a project, and do not continue to develop their pipeline simultaneously. Then when the project is over, they think to themselves, what next? I have an empty pipeline and must start over. The successful consultants, regardless of industry or specialty, know they must consistently practice cold-calling and leave room, even during heavy billable days, to keep their pipeline alive and moving. This also implies that given these starts and stops, they become rusty in their lead prospecting conversation and must step up a learning curve to improve their effectiveness as an example. Being your Best Self implies doing those things that keep you at the “Top” of your Game in all aspects, over time.
There are many other examples that keep us sharp, learning that become good habits, to keep us current, thinking, and relevant. Some examples are:
- Continuously Networking with your current Network and Growing it;
- Learning two new words a day
- Researching New Companies
- Writing a Blog Periodically (Weekly?)
- Having Skip Level Meetings with Employees
- Always Following Up to Your Commitments to People
It’s these routines and patterns that create good habit’s that lead to you being consistent, constantly learning, persistent which are all trait’s to lead to your Best Self.
- What habits have you learned make you better? Which ones are more valuable?
- Are there Habit’s that you Wish to Start, but cannot figure out how?
8. Remembering that No One is an Island-Communicate Clearly
According to Thomas Freedman, “The World is Getting Flatter” and we are able to see, talk, learn from, teach, negotiate, and more without ever leaving our current location. As you take actions, make decisions, react to others, or do nothing, even if you are alone, your response will always affect others. Whether you are in someone’s face showing your reaction days later, or the fact that you did not show up when you are expected, you are communicating your feelings and sending a message. To be your Best Self, you need to be aware, especially as a business leader, that what you do has consequences. This awareness will help you be your Best Self. It’s so easy to get caught up in he said, she said, or they did or did not, or they avoided me or got in my face, where the real message gets obfuscated by the actions and misinterpretation.
- Are you quick to judge? Do you react before thinking?
- Do you avoid confrontations? Are you often missing meetings for any reasons?
9. Improving you Listening Skills
While it may seem hokey, I have often been told that “…We have two ears and one mouth.” That means that we should listen twice as much as we talk!” It makes sense, right?
Being our Best Self means being a good listener and working at getting better. As the planet and people become more complex, diverse, and flatter, it means that everyone is coming from a more unique and different perspective. Humankind is distinctively unique from each other. Even with identical twins, there are always asymmetries or artifacts distinguishing them from each other. More importantly, given the uniqueness of personalities, learnings, bias, skills, it’s not possible for two people to be exactly alike. (Yes. Even in Clones, there are differences).
To be your Best Self, means to understand where each individual is coming from and evaluating what they have to say and their relevance to your needs, wants, desires, interests, goals, or problems. As everyone is different, there is always another point of view that is valuable to consider, a different perspective to learn from and a position that could make the difference between success and failure. Being Your Best means that you must listen to others not for your own self, but because people like to be heard, desired, needed, recognized, and more for their contributions. To Include, is to listen.
However, it’s also important to note that the very differences which make us unique, also provides us with conflicting advice, solutions, and paths to your goals. One of the key success factors for Being Your Best Self, especially as Owner, Leader or Executive is knowing how to see these distinct, polar views, and make decisions about which, if any, are worthwhile incorporating into your decisions and process. Startup founders in tech are constantly bombarded by people with great intentions, who appear to love the new “shiny object” the startup is creating and provide advice from their own world view. It’s not uncommon for the founders of startups, early in their new business leader roles, to attempt to listen to “all” the advice they get and attempt to follow them all. I often talk these founders, six months after getting a tranche of advice, and listen to their tales of woe that they realized they cannot follow all the advice and need to filter them.
To be your Best Self, you must be a good listener. And even if you disagree with someone’s hypothesis or argument, it always valuable to recognize their argument and appreciate where they are coming from. In this period of cancel cultures and people being stopped from speaking when they are recognized as not agreeing or believing what they believe, this is even more important to demonstrate, especially in a business environment. To be your Best Self, it’s important that we are open to criticism and more importantly, FRIENDLY Debate, to uncover the possibilities. Without debate, divisions are reinforced and innovation is not allowed, or at least discouraged.
- Are you committed to being a good listener?
- Do you interrupt people while they are talking and not allow them to finish?
- During a meeting are you listening? Or are you distracted with emails or text messages?
10. Being Positive and Expressing a Good Attitude
There is a reason that not being a “Debby or Donny Downer” is a big thing. Business Leaders are people that get followed, spread brands, products and services like they are contagious, and maintain a fun, happy, and positive environment surrounding them. Putting a positive spin on everything is good, especially to recruit people to follow on difficult journeys that require hard work, steep learning curves, complex problems and more. Business Leaders often need to push people out of their boxes, wear many hats, and set their egos aside. By keeping a positive attitude and view, your Best Self will emerge to carry the teams and you, through the tough times and challenges that face you, whenever you do something different or new.
Don’t get me wrong, there are places for the pessimists and skeptics in the world. To every Innovator, there is an Operator Partner. The Author of Rocket Fuel, Gino Wickman, believes that it takes two people for a startup to succeed, especially as a business scales. The Innovator (Divergent Thinker, Customer Viewpoint and Resolving the Value Proposition) and the Integrator (The Convergent thinker that systematizing the organization to keep consistency, avoiding scope creep etc). I hope I did the reference accurately.
Speaking of getting people to do new things, one of the greatest positive and strong feelings I get is when people in my organization recognize when they are doing something they never thought they would do and are beaming with pride from what they did! This speaks to the heart of our moniker of “Achieving Remarkable Results,” when people proactively talk about what they have done or what the organization they are in has accomplished. To be your best Self, be the guiding light of positivity and rise from set-backs even stronger than you were before!
- Are you a guiding light for people? Do they reach out to you for good outcomes to dilemmas?
- Do you encourage people to continue working on new things that are important to them?
- Are people smiling when they start a meeting with you?
- Do you support the people that work with you on their ideas, even though you disagree?
11. Keeping Focused and Prioritizing for Making Progress in your paths
There is a saying that we can be “Captain of All, but Master of None.” Our Tendency for many of us, is to take on a lot of tasks, push ourselves to our limit’s and spread ourselves thin. It’s really a clear, well-proven fact that taking on too much sacrifices the quality and outcomes of all those things . Narrowing down the field of priorities, or areas of focus, will always yield better outcomes, shorter efforts, and contribute greatly to your Best Self.
When you consider that you may spread yourself thin, take on too many things and attempt that with groups of people for each effort, it’s rare that we consider the minimal effort to keep each team making forward progress. Between touchpoints in a project, it’s not unheard of to not make progress from meeting to meeting, which indicates you are multi-tasking too much.
Especially when some teams, if not well known to each other or the first time they are working together, can feel like you are “Herding Cats” and require even more time than expected. Be your Best Self by focusing in on a few efforts at a time, master them, make decisions to continue or not, before you take on more.
Another challenge of multi-tasking and taking on too much is it raises your stress levels. If you are working, as many entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives do, then you are likely working 7 days a week, 60-80 hours a week, and not balancing with your other roles like being a parent, child, sibling, etc. This will all get reflected in your attitude with others, how you communicate and listen (or cut-off) to others and impact your decision-making and effectiveness. [Take it from someone who survived for many years on 4-5 hours of sleep a night].
- Do you track the time, milestones, and progress of your projects or responsibilities?
- Are your programs or projects making forward progress between meetings or only at the meetings?
- Are you tracking the Major Blockers that Affect your Business and What you are doing about them and Review them Periodically?
- Are You able to stay on Task to Your Goals and Accomplishment and complete them on-time, (the first time)?