Stephanie Calahan is one of the amazing entrepreneurs who made my books Entrepreneur Mind Hacks, parts 1 & 2 possible by contributing super amazing content.
One of the chief things that Stephanie discusses is “Misplaced Actions in Your Business”. Stephanie has noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs are “busy being busy”. But, being busy does not equal being productive, nor does it necessarily move you toward your goals. To contradict this, Stephanie encourages people to take what she calls “inspired action” and move their business forward.
The trick is that there is an innate conflict between “inspired action” and “being busy”.
An example Stephanie often shares is the story of a salesperson who has a route that he regularly goes on and he meets regularly with his prospects, but his sales stay somewhat mediocre and stagnant. Deciding he needs new training, he attends a motivational seminar. Following the seminar, he is inspired and encouraged to do better! Yet, the truth is that he still doesn’t know how to sell any better than before… he is just more enthusiastic about it. And, he actually ends up turning some clients off with his newfound enthusiasm, so his sales actually go down.
That’s “misplaced action”.
He didn’t need more enthusiasm… he was already dutifully going out and making honest attempts at making sales. What he needed was sales training.
One distraction that many entrepreneurs have that leads to this “misplaced action” is all the information that we have at our fingertips today. In addition to the quantity, people have become really GREAT at writing marketing copy today, equating to a ton of “bright shiny distractions” coming at us from everywhere. It seems like every entrepreneur guru has something new that each of us “has to do”. So, many people end up doing all the things that the experts say they need to do, but none of it actually moves their business goals forward.
What we all really need to do periodically is to take a step back and pause for a minute to assess what our real goals are. Sometimes, we get so busy “doing things” that we lose sight of where it is we want to move toward.
In other words, having clarity in regards to why we are doing what we are doing really matters.
In fact, two of Stephanie’s favorite words are Clarity and Alignment.
By alignment, she means this: sometimes there are things that certain people do that help move their business forward with amazing ease. However, when someone else does the same thing, it just doesn’t work as well. For example, many people suggest blogging for your business in order to grow an online following. This is great for many entrepreneurs, but for others, merely sitting in front of a keyboard with a blank page only causes anxiety and stress. They may know exactly who to write to and what to say, but they just can’t get the wheels turning when it comes to this specific mode of communication. Stephanie counseled one individual who had this very problem. Now, while writing a blog was not her cup of tea at all, she was a very proficient verbal communicator, so instead of posting a blog on a weekly basis, she started a podcast… with great success! She followed up each podcast with getting her words transcribed and turned into what else… a blog!
That’s one example of having clarity and then getting her actions and goals aligned.
But, clarity doesn’t always arrive overnight.
And speaking of overnight… sometimes entrepreneurs don’t even have clarity regarding which part of the day they are most productive… early morning? Afternoon? Evening?
Stephanie, for example, is not a morning person at all. She would regularly have arguments with her alarm clock when it went woke her up. To combat this, she would force herself to schedule 8:00am meetings. Yet, by doing this, she was rarely at her best when she needed to be.
Nowadays, she takes her son to school in the morning, then uses her morning to charge her battery through prayer, quiet time and exercise – at her pace – before taking on the day. Then, when she starts her morning meetings at 10:00, she is all ready to be her most productive.
Besides schedule, entrepreneurs also need to have an extreme amount of clarity regarding who you serve. When you have the approach of “I’ll work with anyone who will pay me”, then too often your marketing message and other communication pieces are not clear enough for potential clients to identify a connection between them and your business.
Who you work with, what problems you solve, and what types of solutions you provide are three of the most important areas each businessperson needs to have clarity in. Now, for some people, deriving this clarity might begin with deciding “what” you do or offer. For Stephanie, and many others, “what she does” actually falls behind “who she serves”, especially since her “what” skill set is so expansive.
In my book, Stephanie is quoted as saying:
“Being productive means you are taking action on things that are leading you to something.”
But Stephanie’s favorite “Stephanie-ism” is this:
Being will trump doing every time.
You see, Stephanie has spent years as a Productivity Coach. One of the things that made her stand out from the rest is that she did not focus on To Do Lists. This is because too often, entrepreneurs focus on “getting stuff done”, and not enough focus is put on doing the right things.
This is why and how she came up with the “To Be List”. Before you even get out of bed in the morning, Stephanie encourages you to decide, “Who are you going to be today?” Will you be loving? Compassionate? Smart? Funny? Energetic? Enthusiastic?
You can then use these adjectives to govern how you approach the myriad of circumstances that approach you throughout the day.
For example, say you’re commuting out on the highway, and suddenly someone cuts you off. Your gut instinct may be to get angry at them for driving so carelessly. And, if you give into this, you will remain frustrated as you go into your next meeting and you’ll be much less productive. However, if you build a habit of choosing who you are going to be throughout the day, and if you choose to be forgiving… then you will be able to approach being cut off on the freeway differently and your day’s meetings will go differently. That’s when you will begin to see great differences in your results and productivity as well!
This tends to run opposite of the culture that we are living in. Today’s culture is very emotionally driven, what people do is often based on what feels right at that particular moment. Therefore, as a society, we have conditioned ourselves to believe that whatever we feel is true.
Therefore, we need to define who we are and then PRACTICE BEING that person. Just like learning, as a child, to brush your teeth daily, ride a bike, get dressed on your own… all these things needed to be practiced before they became habits.
The same holds true for people who are new to deciding WHO they are going to be – they need to practice before it becomes a habit.
Then, at the end of each day, you need to quickly review how you did throughout the day’s events. Over time, you’ll begin to see the habits beginning to form and decisions being made more instinctively.
This all comes together in what Stephanie calls, “Being the bigger you.”
You see all of us, as we go through our days, have our highs and our lows. When you behave in such a way that represents the “bigger you”, you stand within your own power – not allowing anyone to walk all over you or take advantage of you – while also maintaining self-control with a proper mindset. By staying in this “zone”, you avoid regret, wishing you could have handled life’s “lows” better than you did. This also allows you to remain empowered while empowering other people along the way.
So, how does all this apply to our business lives as entrepreneurs?
Well, for one example, we can go back to sales.
Let’s take a hypothetical example of someone owning their own business, working in sales, where the meat of their business takes place via phone conversations. But, a lot of people – when they dive into sales – live their lives and careers as if “it’s all about them”.
“I hope they buy from me.”
“What can I say to convince them to buy from me?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
“What if they don’t buy from me?”
These are all very common mindsets that sales people deal with. However, it’s the fearful, “smaller you” that all this is derived from.
Instead, if at the beginning of the day, this salesperson decides that they are going to be an excellent communicator and great listener, then their sales conversations will be vastly different. You see, if you’re going to be an empathetic listener and great communicator, then the conversation can’t be all about you. The conversation has to revolve around the person that we are talking to on the other end of the phone. By doing this, you’d be able to clearly listen and understand the issues they are facing, and then – if it makes sense – you’d be able to offer them the best solution.
This avenue of perspective, communication, and mindset almost always equates to higher sales and greater productivity.
As I’ve heard it said before,
Your clients will tell you exactly what they need if you’re smart enough to ask enough questions.
You see, as odd as it may sound, according to Stephanie, it all boils down to love. Instead of coming across as someone trying to push your will (via sales) onto them, you come across as someone who loves them and wants to lovingly help them in their need, then the client is immensely more eager to buy from you… because they feel loved.
Stephanie works with purpose driven entrepreneurs, helping them leverage their business, while getting their message out with power, ease and joy so that they can make a powerfully positive difference in the world. This all translates into exponentially increased profits, as they boldly build their business around who they are rather than who they believe someone else wants them to be. You can find out more at www.StephanieCalahan.com