Recently I was discussing workload with a business contact. This was, in part, because we were talking about Christmas and the number of extra things that needed to be done. Neither of us had been twiddling our thumbs before Christmas loomed its head! (Full disclosure means I need to say that being on holiday a lot was both wonderful and brought with it challenges of time management. My contact’s business was also growing, bringing with it its own challenges.) We talked about how we were feeling, and we both agreed that we were feeling a bit of pressure.
We began to discuss what we could do to reduce the stress and we both had different ways of dealing with this. For me exercise is my stress reliever. When I exercise, I feel better about myself, more able to deal with stress and tasks. I also do some of my best thinking as a I work out. Often I will do some exercise interspersed with admin tasks, phone calls, invoices etc. My contact had a completely differed way of dealing with his stress.
He said he “Mentally pulled into the sidings”. It was a phrase and a practise that he had learned from his dad and whilst never really analysing what it actually referred to, for him it meant stopping what he was doing and going and just sitting, usually in his garden. He would make a nice hot drink, sometimes some music or an article he wanted to read “when he had a minute” or a chapter of a book he was reading. He had learnt to use this as a way of switching off for a short time.
Although our methods were completely different, we both agreed that allowing that time for ourselves left us feeling better able to deal with the things needing doing. So what is your way of dealing with pressure? Exercise? Pulling into the sidings? Something else?
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Recently I was in Oslo and, as often happens when I’m in one country I want the cuisine of another country, so I was yearning for pasta. We found what looked like a nice place. Looking at the menu outside it also seemed, whilst expensive, that we wouldn’t need to sell a kidney when the bill came. The tables outside were packed and since I always feel like I’m the animal in the zoo who people are watching being fed, we went inside, which was virtually empty. The smiley waiter put us near the bar and I said, “That’s good we’ll get served quickly”. I need to keep my thoughts to myself sometimes. Anyway, we ordered—nothing that wasn’t on the menu and straight into main courses.
Eventually our mains arrived, well not all of the mains, because my side salad only arrived when I reminded them. This was followed by a basket of bread which skidded towards us as the not-so-smiley waiter practised his spin bowling. Now I knew what was happening, because they were not busy, they were having a lovely time and we were interrupting their fun. Beloved and I began to chat about a proposed holiday to the Artic Ocean so I wasn’t really paying attention to the staff, but slowly they became more raucous. It seems that they were all of different nationalities and so they spoke English, which, unfortunately I could therefore understand. They (all men of about 25) discussed women’s rights, gender inequality, and when they started to discuss their sex lives, I’d heard enough and explained to them how inappropriate their conversations were. Their answer? “We were just having fun”. Which is lovely, but not the aim of my evening out. I’m sort of wanting to have fun spending time with beloved and just chatting, rather than getting bad service and indigestion.
I am all for having fun at work, in fact it is my rule number 1. But not when the customers are therefore forgotten, seen as an inconvenience, or badly served. Of course, the service charge was not paid, and, as someone who has worked in hospitality, I really try to give good tips. But there has to be at least an average level of service, so perhaps getting no money might make them think. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Customer service? You either get it or you don’t.
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Recently I was on a Zoom meeting with people I’d never met before. We had a lovely conversation about business and life and we laughed a lot. I said that I was spending some time that day reviewing my business strategy and immediately one of the people told me what my strategy should be. Not might include or, in their opinion, might be, but this is what my strategy should be.
I was surprised because:
they were very certain how I should grow my business, and
they seemed to think I would just do what I had been told
This got me thinking.
I think it is true to say that any strategy needs to include certain things: a goal, a plan of implementation (this can be fluid), a timescale and a review process. This is my opinion. My business strategy follows that scheme and in my case, the fluid part needs to be very fluid as opportunities come my way. The issue is that whilst business strategies may be similar, we as business owners are all different. What works for you may not work for me for various reasons, our business may be at different stages of development, we may have been in business for different times, our background, and our experiences will almost certainly be different. We may have difference in the amount of risk we find acceptable and our personal business needs, and our work/life balance may be different. Which brings me to my next point.
Doing what other people tell us to do.
When I became self-employed, I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I set myself three rules. The second was “I never do anything I don’t want to do, with anyone I don’t want to do it with” or to put it another way and to quote my beloved “You don’t do bosses well” I like that all my business decisions are mine, be they good, bad or indifferent I own them. So I listen to opinions and then I decide what I take from them, and, when I give my opinion, I expect others to do the same. If they want my further input they’ll ask, and sometimes they do.
So thank you for your opinion, I may consider it further. As a thank you, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.