This week’s guest contributor is my friend, Alexis Neely. On the outside, Alexis is a driven mom entrepreneur who has built two million dollar plus businesses, trains lawyers, and appears frequently on television. On the inside she’s got dreadlocks, at least half her body tatted, and lives a Burning Man life. You can grab her life and business growth kit on her blog and follow her on Twitter @alexisneely.
This week she shares some great insights on getting unstuck in business…
If you are reading this blog, it means you are a pretty smart cookie. You love to read, think, critique, improve. Me too.
Reading at three. High school and college, a breeze. Graduated first in my law school class (more to do with over-studying as a result of massive fear that I was the dumbest person in the room than to innate smartness).
With all this smarts, I was baffled by how hard it seemed to get ahead in business. I saw people who were clearly not as smart making way more money, serving more people and making a bigger difference.
What was I missing?
It took me a few years to learn a reality that may be hurting your business success … in business, smart often translates to stuck.
As a business strategist to lawyers and other very smart people, I see it all the time – the smarter we are, the harder it can be to experience business success.
When we make every decision from our intellect, we tend to overcomplicate. We see all the options, have a million big ideas, and either want to improve upon everything or convince ourselves of what won’t work.
Quite often, we get stopped in our tracks. Sound familiar?
If you find your business not experiencing the kind of success or forward movement you think it should based on your previous track record of being the smartest one around, let’s take a look at what you can do to get a little more stupid and finally experience business growth worthy of someone with your innate intelligence.
1. Make a list of all your ideas and partially completed projects.
If you are like most smarties, you’ve got a million and one ideas and not a single one of them actually making any money yet.
It’s time to get realistic about what you really can accomplish and stop dreaming about all the possibilities.
Create a someday/maybe file and put all of your ideas and partially completed projects into it now, trusting that when the time is right, you’ll come back to them. I know it can be difficult to put aside all the greatness, but if you don’t do it now, none of the ideas will never be completed.
2. Pick one idea that has the most promise to result in a financial reward within the next 6 months and commit to focusing on it no matter what, with no excuses.
Self-discipline is one of the most important success secrets of business. Without a boss, it’s easy to get distracted by the next bright, shiny object and to give up on that idea or project that would have been successful, if you had stuck with it.
Block 2-hours of intense focus time each day (or a few times a week) and focus your energy, attention and action entirely on moving the one project you chose to focus on forward. If you blow your focus time one day, don’t give up. Get back on the calendar the next day and congratulate yourself for not giving up.
3. Get a clear vision of what success looks like for this project.
Create a series of celebration points for this project, the mini-successes that will lead up to the big one. Often, we are so busy looking ahead at the BIG success, that we miss celebrating the many successes that have to occur along the way before we can make it all the way there.
Celebrating your mini-successes will keep you motivated and moving forward.
4. Find a mentor who has done what you want to do and do what they did without deviation.
This can be one of the most difficult steps for the true smarty-pants because it means first asking for help, then doing exactly what you are told to do without making any improvements.
Now, be clear here – I’m not suggesting you never improve on what you learn. Far from it. That’s not possible for a true smarty. What I’m saying is that before you improve, discover what works and what doesn’t. Don’t make assumptions based on what you think without having actually tried it out for yourself.
If possible, see if you can find a “salesy” as a mentor, instead of another smarty. (Best would be to find a smarty who has embraced her/his inner salesy fully and without shame.)
This will very likely require you to seriously step out of your comfort zone because you’ll probably judge the salesy as not as smart as you and as missing important things that you can see because you are so smart.
But remember, it’s these smarts that have held you back.
So long as you have chosen the right mentor who has truly done what you want to do, do not let your judgment sway you from following your mentor’s advice to the letter.
Do not deviate or try to improve upon the guidance – do it exactly as you are told to do it the first time. If you make mistakes, it’s okay. If things could have been better, that’s fine. You’ll learn from these mistakes, make improvements and have a wealth of knowledge for the next time you do it.
Each time I’ve put aside some of my smarts and done what I’ve told you to do here, it’s been hard. Very hard. But, I’ve been rewarded every time.
Some of what resulted:
Stopped trying to be smart and serve every person in Los Angeles who needed a Will & Trust and instead hired a marketing consultant who helped me narrowed my focus to serving just families with young children in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. Result: broke a million bucks of revenue in both 2006 and 2007 and sold the law firm in 2008.
Stopped trying to write a book that would show how smart I was by changing the world on a global level and becoming an instant New York Times bestseller and instead wrote a book about legal planning for parents. Result: got the book published and in May of 2008 with the help of a book marketing mentor made it to #8 overall on BN.com and #1 in all its categories on Amazon.com.
Stopped trying to launch 3 different information products and coaching programs to serve 3 different markets and hired an information-marketing coach who helped me create and launch one specific program to teach lawyers how to engage more clients. Result: sold over $117,000 in a 60-minute teleseminar and launched a business that broke a million dollars within 18 months.
And don’t think it ever stops.
Up until a couple of months ago, my inner smarty-pants had me hard at work on three different businesses, a television show, two different books and a few other projects. But, I’m taking my own advice and narrowing my focus for the next 6 months on finishing one book and I’ve hired the right people to focus on each of the businesses so I can focus on making the television show a reality.
So now I ask you to consider:
How is your inner smarty-pants over-complicating, holding you back, keeping you from focusing and asking for help to do that one thing that will most move your business ahead?
What is the project you are going to focus on, find a mentor to guide you with, and finish within the next 6 months?
I can’t wait to hear!
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