You will leave a story behind. That story is your legacy. Make sure it does not suck! As I coach and work with leaders, entrepreneurs and people from all over the world, here are the themes I see in relation to their stories. First, they are not writing it, somebody else is. That is called a biography being penned by others in their life. Second, the book sucks, and could suck for many reasons. The main point being, these people are not happy with the way their life, love and leadership are going. Ask yourself the question: “If I was to die next week and my book would come to a close, what would it read?” Will it be a best selling, inspiring, encouraging story that your children and your children’s children will continue to tell? Will your story stand the test of time or will you be forgotten? Have you ever read a bad book? Do you keep reading if the author promises it will get better? Does it get better? What if the author promises a turn of events and it never happens? At what point do you stop reading? What is your story? Have people put it down? Are people inspired to turn the next page?
I was recently coaching a client through the Warrior Way Coaching program. He asked me a question in relation to his story and applying the Warrior Way to his life. “Matt, I have stated my Warrior Credo and Planted My Flag. How do I prevent others from knocking that flag down, taking me off base, and pulling me out of my arena? How do I assure that I am writing my book and leaving the story behind that matters, and I am in control of?”
I help people to be phenomenal at life, love and leadership through teaching them the concept, lifestyle and mindset I call “The Warrior Way.” Check out this quick video that describes the Warrior Way. A warrior realizes that life is happening, and that they can have a powerful and positive impact on it. They decide to show up, not just watch life go by. When they show up they stand for something. That something is positive, passionate, powerful, and purposeful. They Plant Their Flag with that purpose and enter the warrior arena to do so. They enter that arena through the gates of purpose, passing quietly and calmly past the noise of others. They stand knowing that there will be a battle. It will be a hard fought, intense battle and they are willing to die in that battle to accomplish their purpose and leave a beautiful story behind. In that arena they either accomplish their purpose, die fighting to, or get pulled out through a gate or trap door. Those are the only three options available to the warrior.
A warrior’s credo is their all empowering, 100% certain, intense and powerful statement of who they are and what they stand for. Their credo is the flag they carry and plant. As they step into the arena something powerful happens. The warrior creates an environment where there will be opposition. The space in between the warrior and the opposition is the “fight.” A warrior is always ready to fight. The problem is this. People who do not live the warrior way will attempt to pull the warrior out of the arena through a “gate” into their space; the fighting, spectating or no showing space. A fighter will pull a warrior out of the arena to fight a fight that is not worth dying for, or a fight with no purpose. A spectator may yell loud enough to draw the warrior out through a gate into the fighting and spectating space. A no show-er may also influence a warrior to a certain degree to step out of the arena into a life with no impact. When this happens to the warrior, others control, edit, and write their story. Only in the warrior arena can you write your own story that is powerful, positive and purposeful.
When a warrior enters through the gate of purpose into the arena, there are also other gates that he or she can exit. These are the distractions, dis-empowering beliefs and lifestyle choices, negative and dis-empowering mindsets, addictions, and all around bad ways of life for the warrior. Some of these gates are wide open and drawing the warrior out. Some are just slightly cracked, the warrior may need to step closer to the gate, but will eventually be pulled out. Some gates, for the moment, are closed shut and the warrior realizes that gate could soon be busted wide open. The other way to get pulled form the arena is through a trap door. One minute you are taking a step forward, the next, you are out of the arena. You had no idea how you got there. You just entered into a blind spot, and all you know is you are no longer in the arena. When I get pulled from my arena, I know it immediately. If you do get pulled out, the faster you re-declare your credo and step back through the gate to your flag, is when you get back to your story!
What are your gates and trap doors? Where do you stand in relation to them? Are they wide open or are they closed tight? Have you fallen through any trap doors lately? Remember, your only true opponent will enter your arena and challenge you. You must be ready for that fight and battle. A fighter, spectator, and no show-er will challenge you, but will never have the guts, courage, or bravery to enter your arena. They will only try to pull you out through a gate and/or a trap door. I get drawn towards and pulled out of my arena daily. Some gates have the tendency to pull me more, and I can not get anywhere near them, so I steer clear of them. Some are closed tight, but are still gates, and can eventually get cracked open, so be mindful of this. Some are somewhere in between and it is up to you as a warrior to know which ones you can step towards, and which you must stay clear.
Remember, the warrior way is not about perfection. It is about declaring who you are, what you stand for. It is about what you are going to do to leave a story behind worth telling long after you are gone. I screw this up every day and so do many that I coach and work with. That is okay. Next time you get pulled out through a gate or trap door, understand how you got pulled out and why, so you can avoid it next time. Step back in the arena and plant your flag.
Remember, your true opponent will be in the arena waiting for you. Do not get distracted and pulled out of the arena by opponents that do not matter. Plant Your Flag, Declare your Warrior Credo, and Fight the Fight worth fighting.
For years, I, along with many other entrepreneurs, have followed the formula of generating revenue and then once all my expenses were covered, enjoying my profit. The problem was and is that this is a broken and senseless formula. My good friend, Mike Michalowicz, has made it his mission to share another formula for entrepreneurs that involves profiting and paying yourself first. At first, this concept seems a little strange, but it makes total sense. Check out his TedEx talk about this here.
In his talk he speaks about our livelihood and income being a piece of the leftovers in our business. Kind of takes the coolness out of being an entrepreneur! I could share more and more of the concepts about what Mike talks about, but he does a better job than I do, so check out his video. You may also want to grab a copy of his new book, Profit First.
So are you waiting to pay everyone else first and then settling for the leftovers? If so, how has this formula worked out for you? What would happen if you profited and paid yourself first?
My painting company, M & E Painting, is in its high part of the season and we are keeping very busy right now. This time of year always reminds me of all the competition out there, and all of the competitors names that pop up when we are meeting with potential customers. Every time this happens, we have a choice to make. We can either make ourselves look better and sell ourselves, or throw the said competition under the bus.
Remember, making somebody else look bad never makes you look good. Make sure as an entrepreneur and business owner that you have enough great things to share about yourself. Never resort to talking bad about your competitors, even if you know they stink. We have a particular competitor and they are not really a great painting company. The owner is the nicest guy in the world and every time somebody asks me about them, I just say, “The owner is such a nice guy.” I then go on to share more wonderful things about my company.
The funny thing about this other company is that most of the time, they knock and slam us to try and get business, and this actually lands us tons of business because they are trying to make us look bad while I am complementing them.
So stay out from under the bus. If you are thrown under it by others, keep your cool and composure and remember that throwing somebody else under in retaliation, or to try and make yourself look better, never works. Remember, your competitors throwing you under the bus is done out of anger and fear because they have no idea how to compete with you. Take it as a compliment that you scare them so much that they feel they have to resort to that tactic. Remember how awesome you are and keep being that way!
The day to day running of a business and being an entrepreneur can be downright exhausting, frustrating and insane. Do you ever feel like you are putting out fires all day? Do issues and problems come at you in large waves, and at times leave you feeling helpless and paralyzed? I know that in my business these things happen.
I was recently discussing an issue relating to what I just mentioned with a team member of mine at M & E Painting. It was a Monday morning and it seemed like the issues kept coming from the left, right, and every other way they could. We found ourselves so tied up and immersed in these issues that for a minute we forgot the big picture.
As we were both talking, we decided to take a minute and step back to see the big picture of what we had accomplished so far in the year. Our industry is having new and frustrating issues arise that in 15 years of being the in business, I have never seen or dealt with before. This year has thrown us a curve ball we are still figuring out how to hit. As we stepped back and reviewed, we realized that even with the frustrations we were right on track with our goals and projections for the year.
When you are in the middle of a fire that is consuming you and it seems as if there is no way out, jump up and take a 30,000 foot view. Remember the big picture. Ask if this issue will even be an issue in 2 days or two weeks. I am not saying to ignore or downplay any potential problems your business may have. Rather, step out of and away from the problem to remember the bigger vision, goals and aspirations of the company.
This perspective can be refreshing, and get you re-centered and grounded back into your business.
Social media is on the rise, and growing leaps and bounds daily. The quickness and ease of fast, real and influential information transfer, and people just plain going to the internet to research you and your company is unavoidable. The days of a company being able to fake out a potential customer is gone. The internet has equalized the playing fields for companies of all shapes and sizes. Your customers have the ability to go online and say and share what they feel about your company with the click of a mouse.
Because of this, it is crucial that you monitor and actively grow your online reviews. Whether on Google, Yelp, or many of the other online review sites, your industry will have a top two or three that your customers visit to review your products and services. As you grow your review base, the ideal reviews are the positive, 5 star, 100% happy, elated feedback reviews. The reality is that you will not always get those. The truth is that if those are the only reviews your company has, it shows that something is wrong. You must go for and receive the 1 star reviews.
What?!! 1 star?! Why would you ever want that? The truth is that people are drawn to drama, bad reviews, and wanting to see worst case scenarios. When you are reviewing a company and see they have 20 five star reviews and a few 1 or 2 stars, which ones do you go to first? Many people I have spoken to and interviewed about this go for the 1 and 2 stars first. Why? They want to see the worst case scenario of what could happen and what has happened when someone works with your company.
These reviews show you are not perfect and that things can go wrong. They show how your customers react to these kinds of situations. The biggest opportunity this gives your company to shine is to show the online world how you respond to the review. The best thing you can do is to take accountability, and never push blame on to someone or something else. Own it and then let them know what you can do or already did do to rectify the situation. This online environment gets a conversation going, a conversation that everybody can see and read. When you own your mistakes and make them right, people will see this and be inclined to work with you more than if they just see a 5 star.
Your company’s true integrity and character will show not through the 5 stars, but what you do when you receive a 1 star. Go get some 1 stars!!
Entrepreneurs are busy. Our days are filled with appointments, tasks, meetings, and ideally things that grow our business and help it to flourish. A key part of our time is spent engaging with and serving our customers. In a business relationship, we discover and evaluate our customer’s needs, then serve the heck out of them. By meeting and exceeding expectations, we will have repeat and referring customers. Here is one problem: There are 5% of people that we will never be able to make or keep happy. Their needs are unrealistic or they are just plain not nice people to be around and work with. I see too many entrepreneurs spend mountains of time trying to be the first person on the planet to make a customer like this happy with no success.
I have been in this situation many times, and here is the best piece of advice and experience I have. Walk away. The sooner the better. These people take 20 times more time than any other customer and will never be happy. They are time and energy suckers, and they take you away from being able to help and serve customers that you can actually make happy and that will refer you.
Many business owners ask how to cut the ties and part the relationship, and here is another thing I have learned. No matter how you do it or what you say, they will not be happy about it. Remember, they are never happy anyway. So do whatever lets you know that you did the right thing, end the relationship, and then let them be mad. Here are a few things to try out:
• I don’t feel we are going to be able to meet your expectations, you may try calling ___________.
• I am going to pass on this one, but I appreciate you and the opportunity.
• Thanks, but no thanks.
Remember, you should have just as much right to choose your customers as they have to choose you as a company. Many entrepreneurs forget this right. If a customer is not as honored to work with you as you are to serve them, which can be the start of a frustrating relationship. Business is a two way street, so never take your car the wrong way down a one way street that will eventually leave you crashed into a wall.
Let’s face it, we as Americans are busy. Think about all the titles and responsibilities you have. I know I have many. I am a husband, father, friend, entrepreneur, teacher, coach, community member, athlete, and I could go on and on.
It is a myth that “we wear so many hats”. The idea that the different roles we play and responsibilities we have being turned into “wearing hats” is wrong and dangerous. Making us believe that one must remove a hat and then put on another to interchange between the responsibilities one has can completely paralyze a person with a feeling of overwhelming busyness.
One of the readers of this blog reached out to me after the six week series of The Circle Of Impact. (Check out these links to the last six weeks of blogs if you missed them (links here).) He asked, “Matt, how do you wear so many hats and switch them on and off? How do you do this and do it well?” I answered him with, “I don’t wear hats. I have many roles and responsibilities, but I do not wear hats. I would freak out if I had to change wardrobe so many times in a day.” He looked a little shocked as is he was searching for some Superman type of answer as to how I manage all my time so well.
The only hat an entrepreneur needs to worry about having, wearing and keeping on at all times is the “Defining” hat. This hat allows you to know who you are and what you stand for. This way, when you show up to be a dad, you have your hat on knowing what you stand for. You do not need to change anything, or switch hats. When you define yourself, you wear this 24/7. Get this hat right and guess what, you are an awesome dad. But wait, now your wife needs something from you in the middle of you being with your children. You don’t need to switch to your husband hat. Know who you are and what you stand for, and show up with it as you interact with your wife everyday. Guess what? You will be an awesome husband. Same goes for your business. Show up with you “defined” hat on everyday. Know who you are and what you stand for. In everything you so, wear this hat and you will be phenomenal at what you do.
Too many people are struggling to switch, manage and balance their hats, and they never take time to define themselves, who they are and what they stand for. They struggle only with managing all the “stressful hats they wear”.
Remember, you only need one hat. To find it requires some work, and some people do not want to do the work to fins this hat. I guarantee that when you do, you will be phenomenal, enjoy life more, and your business will flourish.
I was speaking to an entrepreneur the other day. This guy was on fire. He was full of energy, ideas, passion, and was ready to conquer the world. He was sharing his new business idea with me. He is very clear on who he is and what he stands for, and I love that about him. As he lined out and shared his vision, and then told me the action plan he had mapped out to accomplish this vision and mission, I immediately knew he was not going to make it happen.
Let’s just name this entrepreneur ‘Bob’. I have known Bob for a long time. He and I sit down frequently to share ideas and to talk life and business. Bob has been successful in his life, but not impactful. I would even share that he has been less successful than he could have been for this very reason. Bob needs to shut up and get to work. The Circle of Impact does not allow you to impact anything or anyone if you do not complete the last and most crucial piece, ‘ACT, DO, WORK’. It’s the WHAT that must happen in terms of tangible action to accomplish your vision.
Vision without action or execution is hallucination. I am not sure who said that, but I am stealing it because I like that phrase. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream then did nothing. No marches, no speeches, just a dream. Imagine if we as a country dreamed to land on the moon yet did not do the work every day to make it happen.
As entrepreneurs, we are blessed with the ability to dream big, think out side the box, innovate, and come up with some of the world’s most amazing solutions and fixes to problems. We still must get to work. From the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep, we must plan our daily activities that are congruent with who we are, what we stand for, what we vision, and align with our plan. If not, we are selling ourselves and others short, period.
Check your calendar. Is it filled with action? If so, are the actions aligned with who you are, what you stand for, your vision, your plan? Do you have others holding you accountable to these actions? The nice thing about action is when you do it long enough, averages and measurable start to appear. If you are missing the goal, and the plan is not working, yet you are still working and acting, you have data to work with. You can tweek, adjust, recalibrate, and ultimately make the corrections to get back on track. However, this only works if you are acting.
Are you acting? Do you know what you need to do? Are you still waiting to get to work?
Get to work! Make an Impact! Do Your Be!
As we have been talking about the journey of business and life over the past few weeks, we arrive to a very important part of your journey. So far we have talked about who you are, what you stand for, your vision, and then action plan to realize your vision. As a small business owner, entrepreneur, leader, community member, stay at home mom or dad (you name the role, it counts here), it is crucial and critical to align ourselves with people who can uplift, encourage, support, and inspire us in our journey.
If you read back to the blog “What Do You Stand For”, I asked you to evaluate the five people you are closest to and spend the most time with in your life. So, who are they? Chances are very strong to certain that you will become the sum of these people you spend the most time with. That being said, are these people encouraging, supporting, loving, driving, have a winning attitude? Do they go happen to the world or does the world happen to them? Are they there at every single step of your journey to help you along they way?
Or are they bringing you down, discouraging you, holding you back, or telling you to slow the car down, hit the brakes, or flat out trying to crash your car?
Some of the hardest decisions I ever had to make in my life were to stop associating with people who were not supportive of my dreams, vision, goals and journey. Letting them go was difficult, and at times very painful, but it was also refreshing and renewing, and I would never have ever been able to do this without the support of the people around me that were supposed to be in my circle.
Evaluate your life and your circle of people. Are you happy and satisfied with them? Do you need to make any changes, adjustments, and take a new direction with anybody? If you keep on the track and journey with your current circle, where will you end up? Are you satisfied with that?
Imagine and vision the perfect vacation. Think about what you will be enjoying, who will be with you, what sandy beach you will be strolling along? What kind of food will you be eating? What will be some of the memorable events that will take place? Next, there needs to be a game plan and a road map to make this happen. One can not simply vision and dream then sit around and wait for things to happen. When you vision, you create a point B. You currently are at point A, and have envisioned B, maybe C, maybe Z. Regardless, there needs to be a road map to get where you vision yourself to be.
As I coach entrepreneurs and small business owners, one of the most frustrating things is when someone sits down with me and shares their vision, but has no plan to make it happen. Imagine getting in the car for a road trip to your vacation, and you have no map, no GPS, no Google map to get you there. Were you just planning to drive around aimlessly all day until you possibly reach your destination? What are the actual chances that you will arrive anywhere you want to be while traveling that way? The right side of The Circle of Impact uses powerful language to define yourself, your values, and then paint a phenomenal picture of life through your vision.
The left side is where you get to work. Boots on the ground. This is where you strategically plan the Xs and Os, or the movements you must take to get there. Having a road map that breaks down the distance, the direction, the turns, the dangerous roads, the detours, and the weather conditions is an absolute.
When it comes to your vision, how do you work backwards from the end goal and what do you need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly basis to get there. Having trouble road mapping? Think about the numbers and statistics associated with your vision. In last week’s blog, Write the Story of Your Life, I mentioned not to worry about how it will happen, the numbers or metrics. With the road map you now must consider this. If your point B and vision is to have a million dollar business, you must break that down into measurable and attainable numbers you map out and attain each week, month, etc. Now is the time to put numbers and measurements to your vision.
This is also the time to assign SMART goals to your vision. What must you Specifically do? How do you Measure it? Is it Attainable? Is it Realistic? What Time frame will you complete things? Just like a road map, your goals must have turns, distances, and be measured along the way.
Next week, I will share why it is important to have people in your vehicle as you travel on your journey.