How many thoughts did you have today that you also had yesterday?
Ever think about it? We're broken records, ruminating on the same events, people, hang-ups, and to-do lists over and over again. Are you ready to hear about the impact those thought loops have on our actual, well, lives?
As co-founder of Handel Group and a life coach for over 20 years, I've seen countless numbers of people stay stuck in their day-to-day lives until they make the conscious decision to change and evolve into something better.
Luckily, you don't have to wait another day or be stuck any longer. I have a quick roadmap to use when determining what is keeping you “stuck" at any time of year, and it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with you:
Personal Integrity: When what you say and do aligns with your highest values.
You can break integrity down into three connected components: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In any given moment, from the lens of these three categories, you can understand why you are where you are in reference to how you think and see your life. I'll elaborate:
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep, personal space, and any actions you are taking in this arena.
Emotional: How your physical actions are making you feel and how you react to the actions of others.
Spiritual: In a macro sense, how you feel about your life, how you see your path, and how you relate to the bigger picture. How connected you feel to what's going on around you.
Here's a fact: whether you know it or not, these three factors are already at work in your own life. So often, we can't see their patterns because we invented the patterns ourselves, through our beliefs, habits, and character traits. Many of my clients come to me fully aware of their space in those three arenas, but totally oblivious to the connection between them. Like a little black box in our head, that information reveals the how and why of what's really going on in our lives.
So how do we change the message?
Breaking into that inner black box is the key to becoming unstuck, but it requires a thorough investigation of your inner dialogue (thoughts). Most people are hesitant to admit that their inner dialogue is controlled by fear and negativity, or they don't even realize it's happening. They continue to self-sabotage and then feel all the worse for dropping the ball, breaking their promises, and selling out on their dreams.
You can gain insight into your own Personal Integrity by asking yourself the following 10 questions, and being honest:
1. What have you accomplished in life that you are most proud of?
2. How were you the driver in those accomplishments?
3. What areas of your life are not working for you?
4. How are you responsible for those things that aren't working?
5. How would you rate your integrity in these areas on a scale of 1-10: physical, emotional, and spiritual?
6. What are you saying to yourself about your life in the areas that aren't working?
7. What actions are you taking (or not taking!) in the areas of life that aren't working?
8. What are your dreams in the areas you want to improve?
9. Can you spot the pattern linking your actions to the way you feel on a daily basis?
10. How do you think changes in one area would affect another area?
Truth is, in areas where you are succeeding, you have harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, a hot and healthy body, an awesome family, you have indeed figured something out in those areas. You have figured out how to smell the fresh bread at a fancy restaurant, hand the bread basket back to the waiter, and order and eat the kale. You can be powerful in a meeting, even if you're premenstrual (or your partner is). You know how to harness your mind and tell it to stop talking smack to you. Heck, you have even figured out that if you don't listen to that inner voice of yours, it shuts up.
But in every other area of your life where you are not winning (yet), you haven't dealt with this. You haven't separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories. Who is catching them?
Answer: no one.
Except now you are going to start separating yourself from them. This exercise does more than just revisit the New Year's resolutions you've half-committed to. It's the “why" of your promises and connects you back to your dream for the big picture of your life. It lets you see how any one thing you're doing (or not doing) has a ripple effect on other areas of your life and shows you where your attention is most needed. More than anything, it addresses the voices in your head that are calling the shots and gives you the opportunity to change the message you are sending yourself.
The good news is that every single day is a chance to experiment -- with a new plan, a different practice, or a modified perspective. “How will I feel if I meditate four days in a row?" “What will happen if I alter this one thing?" Experiment, and then watch the changes as they happen before your eyes.
Whatever you do, don't wait for spring cleaning to take an inventory of your current situation and do a thorough integrity check. Just as an action plan for “bathing suit season" starts months in advance of summer, an action plan for your life starts today, and it starts with changing your mind.
Give it a try!
This piece was originally published January 14, 2018.
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.