Your Playing Small Doesn’t Serve Anyone

The single behavior that prevents business owners, or really anyone for that matter, from realizing the incredible potential that lies in their business is playing small.

Small is easy, small doesn’t attract attention, small is comfortable, small doesn’t offend, small doesn’t raise eyebrows, small keeps that little voice in your head quiet, small doesn’t hurt as much when you fall – and small keeps you right where you are.

Thinking small robs you and your business of the art of serving your own personal purpose in life and building a business that inspires others to do the same.

Now, don’t confuse what I saying with the idea of growing a big business – what I’m talking about is thinking bigger about what you’re capable of, about your role as the inspirational leader of your big idea.

Allowing yourself to think and act much bigger is one of the greatest ways to tap your own individual potential and build a bigger you.

The problem with thinking small about things like the higher purpose of your business, the real vision for what’s possible in your business or the audacious brand you know is achievable is that it you won’t be inspired in ways that requires you to take massive action.

Think about a goal you’ve set. Oh, and just for fun, pick one you didn’t achieve. So, why is it you didn’t achieve it? My guess is because it was a little goal. It was likely something you had little trouble imagining you could accomplish, but also something that didn’t require you to change much – and so nothing happened.

In order for a goal, or more to the point, the building a business that inspires you and all that come into contact with it, to come about it needs to stir up doubt. In fact, it needs to create enough doubt that you have no idea how it would come to pass. You need to connect with a feeling of purpose that excites and inspires while at the same time makes you uneasy about stating it publicly.

I’m not suggesting that you make up some audacious, pie in the sky, dream that you quickly dismiss. I am, however, suggesting that if your idea about the higher purpose your business is to serve, the place in the market you know is waiting for you to fill, or the obvious innovation that will inspire others to follow isn’t big enough it won’t force you to change your behavior in ways that would make it true.

Let me give you a simple illustration. Let’s say you have a business and you commit to increasing revenue by 10%. Now, you may not know how you’re going to get all that new business, but maybe a little tweak here or there to your website might produce enough increased conversion to get it done.

What if, on the other hand, you committed to double your business or take it up three times the revenue you generated this year? You may have no idea how you’re going do this, but would it be safe to say you might start rethinking everything about your business?

What if starting today you looked out three years from now and saw something totally bigger? What if you dared, not to dream, but to accept the awesome potential locked up in you and serving your ultimate purpose in life?

In order for you to think bigger it’s important that you believe you want it to be so, that you can glimpse it being so, and that its pull is strong enough to make you question all that you need to change in order to make it so.

Go ahead, I dare you.

My Secret For Getting More Done Every Day

This post originally ran on American Express OPENForum and it seemed like a good Labor Day post.

Small business ownership is hard work. Physically demanding, stressful, mind numbing work—and that’s on the good days. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. One of benefits of owning a small business is that you are totally free—free to work any 80 hours a week you choose.

But no matter how efficient, there’s always more to do than time to do it.

For me, one of the secrets to getting more done each day is to pay attention to my physical energy and do everything I can to enhance, store and build it.

Spending time engaged in daily exercise is an example of an energy building practice that actually gives me time instead of costing time. In fact, some of what eventually turned into my greatest innovations and ideas presented themselves during an early morning run in the neighborhood.

Here are some of my other tricks:

  • Running: I started running for exercise in high school and it’s one of the most relaxing forms of energy creation for me.
  • Conscious eating: Whatever that might mean to you, it is another energy building practice.
  • Meditation and yoga: These are two powerful forms of stress reduction and energy building.
  • White noise generator: Simply Noise allows me to tune out distractions and gain instant focus.
  • Reading lyrical passages of literature: Passages such as those found in Anam Cara by John O’Donohue is energy and focus building.
  • Creating boundaries by shutting down technology: Doing this occasionally is a good energy building practice.

These are just some of the practices I keep in the energy toolbox.

Perhaps a lesson on healthy living seems odd on a business site, but it’s very hard to disconnect the physical you from the creative you in your business.

I suspect everyone knows they can take better care of the physical plant, particularly as we get older, but I wonder if you’ve considered the role this kind of energy building focus plays in helping you get more done, deliver purpose, maintain focus and bring only the healthiest emotions to the game.

Business owners are conditioned to think about assets and liabilities and ignoring your health and energy is one of the greatest ways to move a key asset (you) into the liability column.

I know that every single day I get some exercise, I get more done. Mind you, I don’t do it enough, but I can tell you that investing 30 of the 1,440 minutes I have in a day in energy building activities always doubles up and pays off in terms of increased productivity.

Go out and get a personal trainer, invest in a chef, create technology boundaries, start learning as much as you can about keeping your body and mind well—it one of the best business investments you can make in your business and your purpose.

Image credit: Peter Mooney

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