Thursday, 22 April 2010

Embracing the Uncertainty of Business


I am in business for two very simple reasons; I’d rather spend my life doing something I love doing than doing something I hate doing, and I’d rather be the victim of my own decisions rather than someone else’s. In making that choice however, I am choosing to embrace a much greater degree of uncertainty. There is a much higher risk of being financially ruined in business, and if that happens, it doesn’t just affect me but my nearest and dearest also.

Most people find uncertainty rather stressful. However much they love their business, however much you believe in what you’re doing, the uncertainty of it all can get to you. It can drive you to working 24/7, to neglecting other important areas of your life, and ultimately make you ill and unable to be successful anyway. If you could be a little less anxious about it all, you wouldn’t feel compelled to overwork and make yourself ill. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be as nonchalant as Sir Francis Drake, who according to legend was cool enough to finish his game of bowls before taking on the Spanish Armada?

There’s a skill in embracing the uncertainty of business, taking that uncertainty in your stride so that you will work to your optimum and not make yourself ill or neglect other important areas of your life.

Let us begin by looking at what makes business so scary. It is probably to do with how even most business people look at it, which is a very black and white idea. For most people, it’s about triumph or disaster!

You will either succeed and everything will be brilliant and you’ll live happy ever after, or its destitution. You’re going to be Bill Gates or Big Issue. The trouble is, even after a successful year, you’ve still got the same choice facing you! You’re only ever as good as your last deal, so that threat of destitution never goes away. Just ask any former member of Lehman Brothers!

Now if that’s your mindset, you’re in for a highly stressful life, and however much you love your business, illness or death is going to take it from you prematurely. It’s not the work that will kill you, because in most cases we love our work, I would happily do it every waking minute if I could. It’s not the work, it’s the worry, that nagging voice at the back of your mind that you’re doing it wrong, you’ve made a bad decision, you’re not working hard enough, you’re not working smart enough, you’re not diversifying enough, you’re too diverse, you can’t trust your business partner, you’re going to be let down, I’ve gone a week with no new clients, nag nag nag. Aaaaarrrgghh!

One thing is certain, that there is no certainty, and however hard you push you will never ever eliminate it, so let’s not waste a lot of time and energy trying to make our businesses invincible, because it is 100% impossible. No business, from the empire of Microsoft to tuppenny ha’penny bloke like me is immune from the shifting sands of time and circumstance.

Today I offer you an alternative model to this mindset of triumph or disaster, and it’s this: GAIN – GAIN. Here’s the good news – just by getting out of bed in the morning, just by doing something, just by making decisions, just by being focused on a target you are going to gain. Whether or not you hit your business target, whether or not you achieve the outcome you started out hoping for, you are going to gain.

It’s already happening every single day in the office. You are gaining either money or assets or experience. Now the experience is every bit as important as the assets and money. I hold that as self-evident. Just think about everything you have ever learned to do. In everything you have learned, what did you make a lot of? MISTAKES?

What does a toddler do when he’s learning to walk – fall down! A lot! And sometimes they hurt, and sometimes they cry, but they persist. And provided nothing’s physically wrong, they will walk.

In business, there are two things that you have to face head on that the rest of the population avoids at any cost, the qualities they had as young children but has been squeezed out of them by life, and they are fear and mistakes. So then, this is rule number one

SAY YES TO FEAR OR MISTAKES because if you do you will only regret that you did years from now. You will be afraid and you will make mistakes. Accept it, say yes. Walk through the fire, take the leap in the dark, throw your dice, because the worst that will happen is you will be stronger. This leads me to fact number one

IF IT DOESN’T KILL YOU IT MAKES YOU STRONGER – it’s one of those statements that you hear a lot and can sound a little bit glib, but it is a profound fundamental truth of life. The whole of life on Earth and the principle of evolution rests on this principle. Now let me draw a distinction here, I’m not saying that you will definitely get you want you want, but you will as a person find fulfilment and satisfaction in your life.

Last year I treated a client who was in every sense wiped out by the recession. She had a successful business in property, but then came the property crash and she financially completely ruined, bankrupted, and she was a single mum as well. She came to me with her confidence in herself destroyed. I treated her for free because firstly because she couldn’t afford me, but secondly because I saw her as a sound investment. I believed that it was only a matter of getting her to believe in herself and time that would put her right back to where she was. She didn’t see that. For her, life was over, she was only living for her daughter. She was working as a care assistant for old folk in Bingley and living in a little pokey rented flat.

I pointed out to her that the was not dead. In fact she had now gained a wealth of new knowledge and appreciation, and that she was going to come back stronger smarter better. After five sessions with me, this is what she said:

Gary Blonder came recommended to me by a former client of his. I was somewhat sceptical at first about hypnotherapy, but upon meeting Gary for the first time he put me at ease and made me feel very comfortable. I explained my problems to him and he put it down to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My symptoms included loss of confidence and motivation, uncontrollable tears, and basically feeling very anxious. Gary recommended 5 sessions, he was very confident and assured me he could help me. After the first session I noticed a big difference, I was a lot more relaxed, now I have completed the sessions and been given a CD to which I listen to every other day. I can now look forward to the future. Gary has helped me gain control of my life again, and taught me to look forward not backward. I know my direction in life again now. I certainly would not hesitate in recommending him.

But this just about me blowing my own trumpet. I gave this woman back her belief, but all I was doing was enabling her to look inward and see what was already here within herself, that she had everything necessary within herself to start again. She had the knowledge, the talent, the capability and in greater amounts than ever before, all she needed was to see beyond what had happened, see beyond the fear and get right back on the horse. She learned that IF IT DOESN’T KILL YOU IT MAKES YOU STRONGER and to SAY YES TO FEAR OR MISTAKES

So the next time you start to get worried, the next time the phone doesn’t ring, a client or customer cancels, the next time you wonder where the next order is coming from, feel the fear and do it anyway. Say so what and just respond. Say this to your worry. WHATEVER HAPPENS I CAN HANDLE IT!!

Here is a fascinating fact: take any fear you have and it will boil down to this. I can’t handle it. No matter what it is, from spiders to failure, it all boils down to this fear, and the reality is you CAN handle it every time so long as you don’t die. That’s the only prerequisite – there is nothing that can happen to you that you cannot deal with, because you always have and always will.

HOWEVER, there is a caveat, a necessary requirement in order to be able to handle anything: it’s an old Buddhist maxim: BE ATTACHED TO NO SPECIFIC OUTCOME.

As business people, we usually have a specific outcome, a target that we are aiming for. There is nothing wrong with that, it gives a specific direction, it helps us focus. However, not only does the outcome often turn out to be not what we planned, we do not need that specific outcome in order to find happiness, success and fulfilment. It was right to have that objective, because in going for it we find fulfilment and success.


So far then, I have provided you with mental tools for letting go of the future whilst still maintaining a direction. The good thing about letting go of the future, embracing uncertainty and living in the present is that all your ability talents and energy becomes focused on the one point you have full control over, which is right now.

The trouble is you can take in everything I’ve taught you and still find your thought slipping its lead and wandering off into worry about the future and brooding over the past. Keeping your mind on task is the discipline of MINDFULNESS, a gentle awareness of the present moment.

Here is Gary’s easy to follow guide for keeping mindful, in charge of your thoughts rather than letting them pull you off the job.
1. The affirmation of correction:
2. Use your intuition. Intuition is that part of you you’d call a hunch. You cannot embrace the uncertainty of business without it! It often flies in the face of logic and it’s always right. The human intuition is an anomaly in human understanding. It exists but no one knows what it is or why it works. It is the dark matter of neuroscience. Opinions vary from a function of the right side of the brain, to tapping into the collective unconscious to the voice of God. Fortunately, you don’t have to know what it is, only that it exists and can be used for guidance. There are ground rules for using it.
Rule 1 you must have a calm mind. If you’re not calm, your intuition can’t be heard, it will be drowned out by fear and the left side of your mind desperately scrabbling for an answer. Think about where you were and what you were doing when you get your best ideas. [Archimedes]
Rule 2 It only tells you what to do right now. Your intuition is not quite the same as an idea, although they both originate from a calm mind. An idea can be a plan. Your intuition never gives you a plan, never tells you how it is or what’s going on, and most annoyingly never tells you WHY. It just says DO THIS. You have to trust it. How do you activate it? Just be calm and still and listen!
Rule 3 It’s soft gentle and never critical.
So be mindful, be intuitive, thirdly Be permanently grateful, be a gratitude spotter. Evoke gratitude.
4. Be an opportunity spotter!

And so to summarise, to embrace the uncertainty of business, remember these important principles:
1. A choice is never between success and disaster, it’s between one type of gain and another.
5. Practise the discipline of MINDFULNESS, the discipline of being present-focused, by listening to your intuition, and being eager spotters of gratitude and opportunity.

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