During the past three months I have conducted around 60 telephone interviews with fellow business owners. The purpose was to find 12 ‘masterminds’ that I could bring into a room for 12 days over the next 12 months to increase their business performance.
Brexit, digital disruption, austerity, social media, changing business cultures; what more must business owners cope with? I am not writing this as a victim statement, rather I am respecting the incredible flexibility, progression and adaptability that millions of business owners have shown during the past 20 years.
I was one of them. In 1998, I launched Ecademy, the world’s first online social business network, and it achieved global recognition, delivering vital support, connections and self-belief to more than 650,000 business owners. Despite leading the shift to the online world of ‘business friendship’, I too was disrupted. Not by technology, but by the rise of the free business model – which has created a world in which people feel entitled to knowledge, to the detriment of many.
In 2017 I took one punch too many and fell down.
I researched and underwent ‘business therapy’ – learning how to place mental fitness at the core of my business life. Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher from the 6th century BC, said “to be whole, first allow yourself to break”. The pieces I put back together are much stronger. I increased my self-awareness and learned who I was on a deeper level.
Self-belief has a massive impact on performance. Many business owners focus on skills, hard work, networking, integrity and branding, alongside knowing our ‘why’. However, this is not enough. Far more integral to my interviewees’ success was their belief in themselves.
I considered those who have achieved the success they set out to achieve and those who have not. What differentiates them? It is their sense of self-worth and the belief that they can be successful. Successful people value their time, experience, commitment, knowledge and skills. I call this TECKS in my book Business is Personal, and it is a fundamental part of negotiating, ensuring that we stay in control of what we want out of our life, and are driving it in the direction that we know will give us fulfilment.
When we believe in ourselves, we can respect ourselves, listen to our desires and notice what takes away from our feeling of being in control. In business, we will have the courage to assert our needs and know when something feels right or wrong.
The best advice I can give is: start noticing the moments when you feel out of
control, when conversations or situations make you feel that you are compromising yourself.
If you still say ‘yes’ to the decision facing you, ask where that has come from.
Once you know how to lead the life and business you want, both will grow. It starts with knowing yourself, healing the parts of you that have impacted your self-belief, and then having the courage to say ‘no’. Once you do this, you are in control – the leader of your life and business.