How to Beat the Short-Term, Long-Term Tug Of War

The other day, I was chatting with a client and a few things came up that I wanted to share with you.

As a bit of background, this client has a really successful coaching business, and we’d spent quite a bit of time getting her foundation solid.

We killed off products that weren’t working, re-focused her on the clients that she gets the best results for, and started getting her profits in line.

And for what she needed at the time, it was the perfect medicine.

But she was feeling like her business was one big game of tug of war. Too many things pulling at her attention, too many possible priorities, too many things to work to.

So we sat down and talked it through.

One of the things we looked at was why she was getting so yanked around.

She asked me,

“How do you decide what to focus on? How do you balance the long terms with the short term, especially when you want to bring in some extra cash or hiring someone? How does one even go about that?”

Now, I don’t know if that’s something that you’ve ever experienced:

Where you are in a constant tug-of-war between the long-term and the short-term, with too many good options and no real clear idea of which one will actually get you where you want to go.

But just in case you are, here’s the process we take our clients through:

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Where To Look, To Get Your Revenue Flowing Again

Recently, we worked with a client whose business was consistently bringing in about $1m in revenue each year.

But no matter what she tried, she couldn’t find a way to increase it.

She tried focusing on creating new products, better products, better marketing, better sales funnels …

The result was a few incremental gains here and there, but nothing really seemed to be clicking.

What was going on? Read more

Out of Control

Originally written and posted the day after the 2016 US Election.

Can we talk about control for a second?

Right now, I know a lot of people are feeling like things are out of control.

You may be one of them.

Right now, today, for many of the people I know—that feeling has been magnified by the recent results of the US election.

But let’s also acknowledge that politics is just one arena in which it’s easy to feel like things are out of control. It’s a big one, yes.

But it’s not the only one.

We can feel out of control in so many areas of life … and yes … in business.

I don’t feel like I’m always in control of my business. There are things that feel out of control.

And I know you feel the same.

Maybe for you it’s lead gen. Getting the right customers? Feels out of your control.

Maybe it’s the way things are (or aren’t) getting done. There’s a way you’d like things to be done, but they’re not. It feels out of control.

Maybe it’s your market. You want them to want your thing, but they’re human beings with autonomy and agency. They’re out of your control.

Maybe it’s something else.

Of course, the reason for this is that there are actually very few things that are truly, completely, fully within our control.

So what do we do when confronted with that reality?

How do we deal with things being, seeming or feeling out of control?

In my martial arts class, one of the things the instructor reminds us frequently is that the past cannot be changed. The future cannot be predicted. All we really have is the present moment.

I agree, and …

… I also believe that it’s what we DO with the present moment that matters.

In this present moment, you cannot change the past—but you can learn from it.

In this present moment, you cannot predict the future—but you can set things in motion that will affect it.

Ultimately, in a lot of ways, what this means is that in this present moment, we have two choices:

We can plan, or we can act.

Both are important, and in fact, it’s only when you do both that you can see the biggest, most successful outcomes.

And so, in the coming weeks, I want to explore this together with you.

I want to explore the relationship between plans and action. And I want to show how it is in bringing them together that we are better able to overcome the challenges we face, the obstacles in our way, and—yes—the things that have us feeling out of control.

Because, of course, at the end of the day, the only thing we truly have control of is ourselves, and how we show up in the present moment.

I’ll be keeping the discourse firmly centered in the subject of business; after all, we are approaching the end of the year, and so it’s an amazing time to focus on planning and action.

But of course, the lessons will apply elsewhere should you wish to look at them through that lens.

Until then—here’s one final thought I’d like to share:

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

Here’s to planning—and to action.

Whatcha Reading?

As a kid, I was the stereotypical introvert. Always had my nose in a book.

In fact, I distinctly remember family reunions where my cousins were trying to get me to play … and I just wanted them to leave me alone!

These days, I still read a lot, though reading seems different now.

We’ve got blogs, and newsletters, and social media, and digital magazines, and online newspapers, and forums …

… and, of course, there’s still so much value in good old-fashioned books, too.

It’s no exaggeration that reading has changed my life — and the trajectory of my business.

See, I’m an assembler at heart.

I love picking up ideas from all over the place and seeing how I can fit them together in new and exciting ways.

Because – as we all know by now– information is only as good as what you do with it.

It’s why, for example, I wrote a paper in university applying an advanced mathematical analysis technique to the study of religion.

(Then again, I also wrote a “lost chapter” to The Golden Bough — the famous work wherein Sir James George Frazer analyzes all sorts of folklore and myth. I, naturally, decided to channel Frazer by analyzing the religion of World of Warcraft’s Night Elves.)

Anyway, thinking about all this made me curious.

There are a bunch of things I’ve been reading lately that are already dramatically shaping the work we’re doing.

Books like Double, Double, which is the best guide to business operations I’ve ever read. I don’t get many books in hardcopy, but this is one of them because we’ll be referencing it often.

Or like Deep Work & The 12 Week Year, two books which I believe should be read and implemented at the same time. When it comes to doing the work that matters, the methods outlined in these two books are absolute game changers.

Or like the Multiplier Mindset, the blog and email newsletter from Dan Sullivan and the Strategic Coach team. These articles have been instrumental in helping us choose our next growth vector with purpose and focus.

Or like Growth Lab, the new site from Ramit Sethi and his team, focused on tactical steps to grow an online business.

It all made me curious:

What are you reading? What’s shaping your approach to business growth? Blogs, newsletters, books, podcasts (okay, not reading, but …)

I’d love to hear it.

Leave a comment below, and let us know.

PS. Want something new to read? We’ve just put the finishing touches on three case studies showing the strategies thatTara Gentile, Cory Huff and Marie Poulin used to experience explosive growth in their training businesses. Get them here.

When Doing Things Right Is Actually Wrong

Most of the clients we work with have a perfectionist streak.

So do I, for that matter.

It’s a burning desire, deep down, to do things “right”. To find optimizations and create maximum efficiency. To discover best practices and follow them ruthlessly.

And not just for ourselves, but for those around us: our teams, our clients, our colleagues.

The better you do things, the more amazing the results you’ll get …

Right?

right-wrong

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Rhythm

As a piano teacher, I always took my students through one exercise, fairly early on in their piano playing careers:

I’d play a series of notes and ask them if they recognized the song.

They wouldn’t.

Then, I’d play the same notes again, but this time, with a different rhythm. This second time, they recognized “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Since a young age, I’ve known that rhythm is a driving force in music.

But it’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate just how important it is when it comes to the business of exceptional teaching.

rhythm Read more