Life is designed to be progressive. That’s why we feel good when we’re moving forward and we feel bad when we seem to be on the same spot for too long. And being on the same spot is actually retrogression, because it means that life is passing you by.
The good news is that you can design your life in such a way as to put progress on autopilot. By committing to certain principles and habits you can develop skills that will stand you out and put you in a position to not only attract but also create the opportunities that others are running after.
Interestingly, the process is as simple as ABC. But the fact that it is simple does not mean that it is easy. And this is why only a few people turn out to be outstanding. My goal in this post is to provide a framework with practical insights and ideas that will help you commit to the process.
Three practical ideas
I’m sure that you know as well as I do that there are lots of useful skills that can make a positive difference for you especially in your business and career. The specific skills that are relevant to you will be determined by several factors including your personality, the industry you’re operating in, your personal objectives and business goals.
So, what I have done is to develop a three-part framework that will help you develop the right skills and find the right opportunities regardless of what you’re doing and where you are operating. This framework requires you to:
1. Acknowledge your intangible assets
2. Build systems and structure
3. Create community.
I assure you that if you consciously and consistently work on these three elements, you will experience significant growth in your life and business. Let’s explore each of them in detail.
Acknowledge your intangible assets
You can get so focused on what you don’t have that you don’t get to maximise what you already have. Why do you keep reaching out for opportunities that are faraway when you have not harnessed the ones that are practically staring at you? It’s like traveling all the way to Sokoto in search of a secret sauce only to realise that what you really needed was in your pocket all along.
Let me drive home the point with an example.
When we started The Plenipotent Company, we knew that we needed to build a workforce but we did not have resources to follow the conventional method of keeping staff in an office. That led us to create a system where people can work from anywhere, at any time and in a manner that suits their personality/lifestyle while adhering to quality standards.You may not always have all the resources to achieve all your goals, but you will always have what you need to take the next step. Click To Tweet
Interestingly, we later found out that two American scientists have codified this into a human resources management strategy known as ROWE — Results Only Work Environment. And it is beginning to gain popularity across the world. So, instead of getting worried over what we didn’t have, we turned that limitation into an opportunity for innovation.
You may not always have all the resources to achieve all your goals, but you will always have what you need to take the next step. And if you pay attention, you can uncover assets you didn’t know you have, and deploy these assets to achieve desired results. Some of these assets include relationships and networks, your repertoire of knowledge, latent skills, past experience, time, energy, location and available technology.
Here’s what I am saying in essence: Don’t think in terms of resources; think in terms of resourcefulness. Someone said that if you can think enough, what you have is enough. And I agree. Stop looking at what you don’t have. Start being resourceful instead of complaining about lack of resources. It is not what you lack that limits you; it is what you have but don’t know how to maximise.Don't just think in terms of resources; think in terms of resourcefulness. Even if you have all the resources you need, your results will still be far below your potential if you are not resourceful. Click To Tweet
Build systems and structures
One of the most important things you can do to achieve outstanding results is to build systems and structures that simplify your work, enhance productivity, assure steady performance and increase profits.
You need to recognise that as an entrepreneur, your most important work is not getting the job done; your most important work is creating systems that get the job done and consistently improving those systems.
A system is a group of independent but interrelated elements working together as a unified whole. For example, your body is made up of several systems — nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, reproductive system, excretory system. Each system is distinct from the other but they all work together to make you function perfectly as a living entity.
In the same way, you need to identify the independent but interrelated elements working together to create your business entity. What are the systems you need to keep your business running and continuously deliver a satisfying experience to your customers? Note that I did not talk about delivering products and services; I talked about delivering an experience.
It’s very important that you understand this distinction because what your customers are really buying is the experience that you’re creating for them, not just the products and services. That’s why you need to have a business process with guiding principles and standard operating procedures that communicate competence and professionalism.What your customers are really buying is the experience that you're creating for them, not just the products and services. Click To Tweet
What is the first thing that you do when a client expresses interest in working with you? What do you do after that? What steps do you need to take from initial contact to complete delivery of the project? These steps constitute your client servicing process.
Think about every aspect of your business in the same way. For example, what’s the process for recruiting staff or team members? How do you measure and improve performance? Do you have a system for prospecting? How do you manage relationship with existing customers?
You need to think through every aspect of your business and document the steps required to consistently deliver desired results. Then codify these into standard operating procedures that anyone can easily follow to achieve expected results.
You cannot achieve this at once, but you will achieve it eventually if you adopt a systems mindset, commit to the process and start working at it one piece at a time. The good news is that every step in this direction will yield practical results that will encourage you to keep at it.
There’s a popular proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
One of the biggest temptations you will face as you build your business and career is to use people as a means to an end. But people are not meant to be used, they are meant to be valued and loved. [Tweet that]
This is where the concept of community comes in. As you’re working on your goals, you must also be deliberate about surrounding yourself with smart people and people of integrity with whom you can build deep relationships based on a win-win paradigm and long-term perspective.
Deliberately invest your time and attention in people that matter, starting with your family, team members, partners, contractors, clients, mentors and everyone else that you have to relate with as you go about the business of everyday life. You cannot have time for everyone but you must recognise the people that matter and deliberately invest in them. Investment in people pays the highest dividends. [Click to tweet]
If you don’t make out time to think about your relationships and deliberately nurture them, you will eventually get to a point where you are so focused on making a living that you forget to create a life. The people working with you should feel important and appreciated. As much as it lies with you, let no one be able to say that you used them or cheated them.
Take genuine interest in people and always look out for opportunities to create value for them. I discuss this extensively in my book, The Connection Principle. This book specifically teaches how to connect with mentors and influencers but you can adapt the underlying principles to any relationship. The main idea is to love people, value them and deliberately seek to create value for them.Don't be so focused on making a living that you forget to create a life Click To Tweet
In addition to building deep relationships with the people closest to you, you should also create platforms that allow you to network with other people in your sphere of influence in such a way as to create meaningful connections that can eventually grow into valuable relationships.
You can start by setting up a blog or personal website where you share useful information and valuable resources from time to time. On your blog, create avenues for people to connect with you further, for example by joining your mailing list and connecting with you on social media.
As you continue to share valuable content with a genuine desire to help others, people will start connecting with you and opening doors of opportunity for you. Many of the most important projects that I have executed came this way. And a good number of connections have grown into valuable relationships.
The three principles I just shared with you are powerful and will produce results for anyone who commits to the process of working them out. However, you can create even more outstanding results when you introduce two catalysts: continuous learning and spiritual power.
You can cultivate the habit of continuous learning by programming it into your agenda. For example, you can plan to read for 20 minutes every day, watch a TED Talk every week and attend a seminar or take an online course every month. Once you have planned it, make sure that you actually schedule it. Otherwise, it will not get done.
The idea of integrating spiritual power into your life and business might not sound like what you would expect to hear but I assure you that it truly makes a significant difference. I see the God factor at work in my business every time and I would encourage you to actively align with this to your advantage.
Study how to sharpen your intuition, develop a deeper sense of purpose and draw wisdom from your higher self. I may not be able to give you a step-by-step process here but I would highly recommend that you study and imbibe as much as necessary to develop your spiritual side. Some recommended practices include daily affirmations, prayer, meditation, gratitude and helping the less fortunate without condescension. You should also consider active involvement with a faith community. If you have further questions or if you would appreciate specific recommendations please feel free to reach out.
Which of these ideas resonates with you and what would you like to add? Leave a comment below and let’s take the discussion further.