Thursday, July 05, 2007

Really Bad Business Advice

After the last post (Falling in Love Again -- With Your Business), I got to thinking about energy and success.

Make a quick list: What gives you energy?

It's different for everyone. It might be activity, money, being around fun people, being the center of attention, doing good work, working for others, contributing. It could be almost anything.

Now let's make a slightly narrower list: What sucks your energy at work?

Again, it could be anything. In fact, it could be stuff that gives energy to someone else.

So, now you've got two lists:
1) Things that give you energy (not limited to work)
2) Things that take away your energy at work.

Now think. What's the worst business advice you could give someone about these two lists?

Really Bad Business Advice

I think the worst business advice anyone could give is to spend your time working on things that take away your energy. Why?

First, you are going to be least productive in the activities you enjoy the least.

Second, you are going to be most productive in the activities you enjoy the most.

Third, you are going to have a bad attitude about those un-enjoyable activities. You'll put them off and not do a very good job.

Fourth, someone else will almost certainly do a better job than you at the activities you don't like.

Fifth, when activities steal away your energy, that energy is gone -- even for activities you do enjoy.

Sixth, your greatest potential for growth is in the things you already do well. Strange as that sounds, it's where you've already taught yourself how to teach yourself the fastest. The more you do the stuff you're already good at, the faster you'll get to the next level.


Who hands out this advice to focus on the things we don't like?

Oddly enough, we hear it from well-intentioned people who are trying to help us. They say we need to be "well-rounded" and work on our weaknesses.

Here's a secret for you: You will be unhappy, unproductive, and unprofitable if you spend your time working on things you don't like to do. But more importantly: If you want to super-charge your own business, your productivity, and your profits, focus on the things you love.

Talk to people who are successful in their businesses -- including your own clients. Ask them whether they spend a lot of time on the chores they hate or the activities they love. Overwhelmingly you'll find that most successful people spend most of their time on the things they already do well.

Yes, you still have to do your taxes. But if you hate it, or aren't good at it, hire a CPA! They love doing taxes.

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Two Lists

Notice that we made two lists: Things that steal your energy at work and things that give you energy (not limited to work). The first is focused on work because it gives you a very clear sense of what you need to do less of. Start figuring out how you're going to do that.

The second one is not limited to work because it's always a good idea to consider how you can use your talents and hobbies in your job. If there's something you really enjoy doing, is there a way to do some of that at work? Maybe you like to paint or write, to play music or work with graphics, to sing or collect baseball cards. How can you combine these interests and talents into your job?

Whenever I hear anyone complain that they don't like their job, it is very difficult to resist the temptation to give the following advice: Get a different job or change the job you have. The same is true with business. You don't like your business? Turn it into a different business -- one you do like.

I know there are a lot of menial, horrible jobs that someone has to do. But I'm only talking to one person at a time. And I'll tell you this: YOU don't have to do those jobs. You deserve a job and a business you enjoy. Find it or make it. The choice is yours.

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