Ok, science doesn’t actually talk, but there’s real proof that no matter how resilient you are, certain harmful influences affect you badly, whether you want to or not.
The other day I was on a skype call with a friend who owns a SaaS company.
Software as a Service – where clients subscribe for a monthly fee. You know, like Mailchimp, Buffer, that kind of company.
And as with every SaaS, customers come and go. Some stay for years, others for months, but there’s always a degree of churn. Part of the deal.
He mentioned that he gets an automatic notification each time someone signs up or cancels, so I suggested he disable the notifications for when people leave.
And then he made a mistake that nearly all of us make, unawares:
“I don’t have to, Martin. It’s part of how things work, and it doesn’t affect me when a few people leave each day”.
This is, factually, incorrect.
He might be able to rationalise what’s happening, but that doesn’t stop his subconscious from registering a threat, and it doesn’t stop his endocrine system from releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.
And no, seeing a few clients cancel their $20 subscription doesn’t reduce him to an incapable, stress-riddled wreck.
But, it’s one little stress-factor in a day, one of many different ones each day.
A dangerous traffic situation, your kids coming home with bad grades, your spouse picking a fight, and let’s not forget the avalanche of bad news so many people are addicted to:
All these instances and many many more, induce stress, which shows up on a physical, hormonal level in all of us.
And you better believe that this affects your ability to think, decide, operate, and perform.
Under stress we don’t do well, unless we’re running from a saber-toothed tiger.
Which is why I recommend all clients that they assess how many stressors are present in their lives, and eliminate as many as they can. And I recommend you do the same.
Because the way you handle yourself – specifically, your cognitive and emotional states – determines how you perform, which determines your business results.
So drop the news, you won’t miss anything.
Stop complaining, because telling yourself how crappy things are also sends a stress signal to the brain.
Forget about Facebook, where everyone wants to tell you how bad this thing or that thing is.
Replace the loud aggressive ringtones on your phone with gentler ones, so that you don’t get the cortisol spike each time someone rings you.
In the end, we’re subjected to a barrage of stressors each day, and you’d do well removing all of the ones in your control.
Because while your mind might be able to put perspective on things, your neurochemistry doesn’t, and that’s a fact.
Manage your states, because they’re too influential and precious to just let the world drag them down.
Calm seas, smooth sailing.
Oh, and better creative work, better decisions, more productivity – which ultimately contribute to a bigger business and more money in the bank.
That course on how to use Instagram for your business might seem like a good deal:
Low price, easy modules, made by someone you trust.
But beyond the dollar amount, what’s the real cost?
You’ll have to reserve time for learning, and then for implementing. That’s expense #1.
Then there’s the amount of time you won’t be spending on other business matters.
Obviously, adding one thing into your business mix means you’re robbing time from something else, so here we have another cost.
Next, there’s the cost to your self-esteem, if this turns out to be yet another purchase that ends up in the backwaters of your download folder, never to be used.
Finally, there’s the cost of ‘getting really good at it’.
A training is only as useful as your level of mastery, and it’s only with diligent practice and improvement that you start to see real payoff, only once you become masterfully good at it.
So that $39 training suddenly doesn’t look so cheap, does it?
With everything in life, there’s a potential benefit from making a decision, and there’s a guaranteed cost.
Problem is, we tend to only focus on the (not at all guaranteed) benefits, and conveniently ignore the cost, which is often staggeringly high.
Or, as the behavioural economist Dan Ariely would have it: we’re predictably irrational.
This problem of hidden costs (or: opportunity cost) is only phase one.
Phase two is: chasing sunk costs.
Because today we make a decision that seems reasonable and well thought out, when we find that it wasn’t the perfect choice, we often justify that old decision by tossing more effort into trying to make it work after all.
So when you’re faced with a decision that stands to have a big impact, think about hidden costs before jumping in.
Next, ask yourself how you’ll prevent yourself from chasing sunk costs. Most of the time, a firm decision on ‘results by date x’ (and please: be reasonable here with your expectations. Start with ‘proof of concept’ and work up from there) should be enough to have you abandon the experiment and chalk it up to experience.
When you do your due diligence, you’ll often find that the hidden cost alone is so high, the experiment isn’t even worth it.
Which is excellent, because it prevents you from giving it time, which you can then shovel into: doing more of what works.
Most big decisions (especially those sold with hype by marketers) are only a way to procrastinate anyway.
And the result goes way beyond ‘a place for everything and everything in it’s place’ – instead, I get an ecological context where, the moment I walk into my home or my office…
… my *mind* is in the right place, be that for a client session, creative work, or spending time with friends.
So if you often struggle getting focussed, or you frequently feel overwhelmed, maybe ask yourself:
Are you paying enough attention to the design of your space, your work, your tasks and projects and plans – and most importantly: your mind?
Because the design of everything pertaining to how you live, work, think, and move through the world has far too big a bearing on your well-being and your results, to just leave to chance and ‘wherever you last dropped your keys’.
A few weeks ago, someone interested in working with me was on the fence about making the decision.
He saw the value and knew I’m not the rah-rah kind of ‘you can do it!’ coach, and yet… he had trouble making up his mind.
We talked, and then he told me one of the big conundrums he was facing:
Would Martin be yet another cookie-cutter, follow-the-programme coaches?
Someone who takes you through a curriculum, and tells you what to do?
I smiled, because that’s the perfect attitude – not just when working with a coach, but also in life.
Sure you’ve got all the answers in you, but that’s not the point.
What matters is that you’re able to find those answers for yourself.
To inquire of your subconscious what needs to happen, what you need to become aware of, and what it is that you need to decide.
It’s easy and oh-so comforting, to have someone spoonfeed you the answers and the steps.
But that’s called education, and not coaching. Nothing wrong with it, but different.
And it illustrates the value of a real coach, meaning: someone who enables you to take ownership of your process, growth, and development.
And that ownership thing, that’s in short supply these days, especially with all the hyped-up marketing tactics we’re being shown every time we go online.
Seems like everyone is trying to sell us a 1-2-3 ‘buy this and magic will happen, all by itself’ infoproduct, training, or course.
But there ain’t no magic.
There’s only clear thinking, sensible deciding, and elbow grease.
And the more you own your own involvement and actions, the easier things are and the more resourceful you become.
Good friends and real coaches don’t feed you the answers.
They listen and ask the questions that make you find your own answers.
Which brings me to an interesting point: very often I see coaches claiming that they have the answer to the question ‘can you help me with XYZ?’, and brand themselves as the dude or gal who yes, totally, can do.
I say be skeptical when you see that kind of claim.
There’s a lot that goes into the mix, in order for a coach to really help a client – starting with alignment, or attunement, on a personal level.
And until you meet and speak, there’s no way to know. So how can someone pre-empt the question, and say yes…?