Oprah was the first person to popularise vision boards. “Create the highest, grandest possible vision for your life because you become what you believe,” she said. In the world of business, founder of Net-a-Porter Natalie Massanet uses vision boards after reading Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualisation.
My own experience of vision boards began back in 2000 after reading John Assaraf’s The Secret. I generally create at least one vision board a year, usually during the week between Christmas and New Year. It reminds me of being a child, when I was never happier than getting out the sugar paper, glitter and glue and making the latest project on Blue Peter (the longest running British children’s TV programme and an intrinsic part of our culture). My current vision board includes references to a workcation in Bali and adventure travel to Kashmir and the Himalayas.
I love this Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” It goes straight to the heart of our belief in our own ability to make a success of our business. And it’s this limiting self-belief, or lack of confidence, that I see hold back so many perfectly capable business owners and get in the way of their success.
Have you heard people talking about how they ‘get in their own way?’ What they’re really talking about is their limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are curious creatures. The bigger they are, the harder it is to see them. And if we can’t see them, then we can’t fix them. They’re the proverbial elephant in the room.
Limiting beliefs are the lies we tell ourselves to keep ourselves small. It’s far too late for me to leave my job and start a business. I don’t have enough experience. I’m a creative and creatives can’t make real money.
Every entrepreneur goes through periods when business is slow, especially in the early days. Perhaps you’re a start-up struggling to get those first crucial sales. Or your marketing plan does not include enough of the right activities to guarantee a consistent sales pipeline. Or there’s an economic downturn. Or your business is subject to seasonal variations. Or maybe you’ve been so caught up looking after customers that you’ve neglected your regular marketing activities.
The danger when business is slow is that we get down-hearted, and our anxiety levels rise. Our body’s stress reactions start to kick in triggering either a fight or flight response. A flight response can trigger a downward spiral – partly triggered by our body’s own physiology – where we start to lose confidence and give up hope. This is the time when it’s most important for us to be focused and take consistent action.
In 1960, Volkswagen ran a one-word headline in its advert about a Beetle that would never make it to a dealer. The headline was simply ‘Lemon.’ It was inspired by Volkswagen engineer Kurt Kroner who had discovered a blemished chrome strip on the glove compartment on a Beetle going through quality control. This blemish was enough to reject the vehicle. This action inspired legendary copywriter Julian Koenig, from the fabled Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency on Madison Avenue, to pen the ‘Lemon’ ad.
The advert pointed out how many checks each car went through before it was considered good enough to leave the factory. “This preoccupation with detail means the VW lasts longer and requires less maintenance, by and large, than other cars,” read the advert. “It also means a VW depreciates less than any other car. We pluck the lemons; you get the plums.” The advert concluded with the argument that Volkswagens maintain their value better than other automobiles.
If you’ve ever tried to nail down the core values that define your business, you’ll know how difficult it can be. They can feel nebulous or a bit ‘airy fairy’ as we say here in the UK. All too often, value statements’ can come across as dull, meaningless and sometimes even plain dishonest.
Take a look at this list of core values for example.
Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence.
Don’t these core values sound great? They’re certainly clear, concise and purposeful. You may have similar core values in your business. But they’re actually the corporate values of Enron, as stated in the company’s 2000 annual report. And as events went on to show, these values turned out to be utterly meaningless.
It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney
We’ve all read articles about the importance of having company values and being a values-driven company. Best-selling management consultants like Jim Collins and Tom Peters frequently emphasise the importance of company values and highlight businesses that leverage their core values to outperform the market.
Despite the credibility of authors like Collins and Peters, it’s still all too easy to be sceptical about the importance of company values. We all know businesses where their stated values are little more than meaningless platitudes with leaders paying lip service to core values that do not inspire, engage, or motivate.
I believe this helps to explain why so many CEOs have been struggling to work out how to respond to last week’s Executive Order on immigration. The so called ‘Muslim Ban.’
The importance of taking good care of yourself was driven home to me this month when I was struck down with flu. Whilst I caught up with a couple of Scandi dramas on Netflix during my enforced rest, I wasn’t able to make the dent in my ‘To Do’ list I’d intended. This reminded me of the importance of self-care when you’re a small business owner, a popular article on this website, written by my friend Mel Noakes.
Once back out and about, I popped into Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road (a must visit for book lovers) and picked up a copy of Faya Niilson’s Fit In 3: The Scandi Plan. I love the balanced approach Faya takes to health and fitness. By this I mean her emphasis on the importance of Fika, a Swedish tradition I hadn’t heard of before, but which it turns out I’m well acquainted with. Fika means taking time in the day to enjoy coffee and a pastry over good conversation with friends. This year I’m definitely making more time for Fika, and I hope you do too!
Kathryn Brown is a productivity coach and systems strategist. She helps small business owners leverage their time and expertise, and streamline and scale with systems so they can work less and live more. Before creating her own business in 2014, she provided management-level training and served on the leadership team responsible for ISO certification for a tech company. She was school improvement co-chair for compliance and certification as a professional development and technology coordinator for a local school. Today, Kathryn offers workflow and systems design, goal setting and achievement strategies, and work life balance integration to the small business owner. You can find out more on Kathryn’s website here
Want to “find” extra time every time you’re at your desk?
The best way to achieve this is by intentionally creating a workspace that works for you!
In today’s post, I wanted to share an easy-to-implement system with you that you can complete this weekend.
Let’s Systematize Your Desk Area!
Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” – Albert Einstein
Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to lead with integrity. These reflections, prompted by the various elections which have taken place over the past year or so, have inspired me to start work on a series of essays under the banner Lead With Integrity™. Once complete, these essays will form the body of a book. This is the first essay; on the subject of truthfulness.
When I started thinking about what to ‘lead with integrity’ means, truthfulness was not on the list I made of key attributes. To be honest (no pun intended) it didn’t occur to me to include truthfulness on my list because it’s such an obvious and basic requirement. Isn’t it? How can you lead with integrity if you’re not truthful?
This is a guest blog post by my friend and Self Care Coach, Mel Noakes, who specialises in helping women to balance professional success with their personal health and happiness. After leaving her corporate career, Mel decided to help people whose lives look great on paper but which in reality feel like “crap” having been there herself. Having now passed the date when most people have apparently given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, I thought she’d be the ideal person to help you keep going with yours – whether you’re a woman or a man. You can find out more about Mel’s work on her website HERE
and also connect with her on Twitter
There’s something almost cathartic about a fresh start isn’t there? A clear inbox. A new home. A new job. Even new shoes. It feels something special to start something.
And nothing says fresh start quite in the same way that a new year does.
And with new year comes new year’s resolutions – according to a You Gov poll 63% of Brits and over 100 million Americans set new year’s resolutions. That’s a lot of intention being sent out into the universe.
The practice isn’t new, according to the history books the Romans began each year making promises to the god Janus, how January got its name. The Babylonians made promises to their gods each year that they’d pay their debts and return items that they had borrowed. In many religions, a new year is significant for casting off the old and seeking forgiveness to move forward with the new.
So, with such fervour around new year’s resolutions, it seems odd that a new year’s resolution will be a distant memory before the month is out. A 2015 by Bupa showed that 63 per cent of people who set new year’s resolutions in 2015 failed and of those polled by Bupa, nearly half of Brits (43%), lasted less than a month.
So, what happens to that shiny new feeling and why do so many people go so wrong?