Rekindle the Love for Your Business

It’s not easy running a business. But it’s easier when you’re running a business you love.

If you’ve been running your own business for a long time, you know the different stages it can go through. The initial excitement you had when you started your business may have faded over the years.

If you’ve lost a little love for your business, there are ways you can bring back the energy and put more passion in your work.

Start by answering these questions:

1. Why are we really doing this?

Take “money” out of your response for the moment. Reflect on your company mission–the reason your business exists. It’s not uncommon for some businesses to lose sight of their purpose, especially when people get too caught up in tasks.

People are driven by deadlines and to-do lists. They get stuck in habits that may not serve the business given where it is now.

Recommit to making the impact your business was created to have. Or even better, commit to making an even bigger impact. You’ll generate new energy.

2. What should my role be now?

We go through different stages in our leadership growth. It’s similar to parenting. As your child grows, your relationship with your child changes…and so does your relationship with your business.

Sometimes your business needs nurturing. At other times it needs to run more independently.
Your business might need a push. Or it might need a new look.

Perhaps you don’t need to be involved in the business in the same way you have been over the years. Experienced leaders often struggle to let go of responsibilities that can be handled by others. They hold themselves and the business back. Create your ideal role and begin stepping into it.

3. What do I need now?

This may be the most important question of all. As an owner or executive, you’re probably conditioned to put the needs of the business first. Get real about what you need. It could be more thinking time to focus on the strategic issues. You might want more opportunity to mentor or help others develop.

Perhaps it’s time to start a new business that you’ve been thinking about. Or you might need some time off to recharge. As your own needs are met, you’ll have more to give to the business.

Only you know the kind of relationship you have with your business. You can tell by the way you feel as you go about your work.

Rekindle the love for your business.

Ignite new possibilities.

The Most Important Question

My favorite children’s book is The Little Engine That Could. During the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on a few questions related to that theme.

How’s your engine?

As a leader or business owner, chances are you’ve spent a lot of your energy trying to keep your business engine running. After all, if you don’t, who will?

You’ve likely experienced times when the engine seems weak or even quits, so you get busy figuring out the problem. You refuel and check the systems to make sure they’re working properly.

If you’re like me, your business may have jumped the track a time or two. Or you may have changed tracks to explore new territory. You may have lost some cargo along the way.

Leadership Tip:
Get the proper systems and people in place to carry the load.
Work on the most important parts of the business. Let others handle the rest.

Where are you going?

This is a perfect time of year to shift gears and think about the vision for your business–where you want the train to go. Yes, you need to have a strong working engine, but you have to have a destination in mind. It’s okay if your idea of the destination isn’t totally clear.  Give yourself some time and space to think about the possibilities.

When you begin to question if you’re even on the right train, keep moving. As Paulo Coelho said, “Sometimes the ‘wrong’ train can take us to the right place.”

Leadership Tip:
Be willing to change the destination if needed. Trust that you’re moving in the right direction.
Help others see and get excited about where the train is going.

How’s your mindset?

As a child, little did I realize how many times in my life I would have to say to myself, “I think I can…I think I can…I think I can.” Inevitably you’ll hit some obstacles along the way, but how you think about them and respond to them is critical.

As an exercise, quickly list all the reasons why you will be successful accomplishing what you want in the coming year.
Keep that list in front of you. It’s too easy to let doubt creep in.

Leadership Tip:
Be open to new possibilities. Anticipate good things happening. As a leader, you have to feel and convey optimism.

And the most important question…Are you enjoying the ride?

You should be. If not, what needs to change?

I used to get frustrated when people asked me if I enjoyed my work. How can you enjoy the ride when you feel such pressure and responsibility? The stress in a leadership role can be overwhelming at times.

If you shift your thinking from, “Work should get done” to “Work should be fun,” you’ll actually get more good work done.

It doesn’t matter how successful you are in business if you’re not fulfilled.

When I focused more on the positive aspects of my work, more opportunities emerged. I followed my instincts to create a business that allows me to do more of what I enjoy.

Leadership Tip:
As you consider your goals and aspirations for the New Year, make a commitment to focus more (much more) on what you truly enjoy–within and outside the business. Fill yourself.

In business, results matter, but the experience of creating those results matters too.
The train will keep going. You can enjoy the journey if you choose to.

While “Enjoy the journey” may sound trite, that is my best wish for you this holiday season.

I think you can. I think you can. I think you can.

Ready for a Coaching Conversation?

Ever struggle to find just the right words when you’re in a sensitive conversation? If you’re in a leadership role, it’s not uncommon.


birdsOne executive I worked with admitted he tried to avoid one of his direct reports.


“I never know how to approach her without striking a nerve.” He complained about having to tip toe around issues. The idea of confronting the person became more stressful to him than dealing with the negative impact of ignoring it.


If you’re like many of the executives I coach, you just want to get things done, but “people issues” get in the way. While the words you choose to use are important, there are other factors that matter as well.


Here are some quick tips to help you address difficult people and situations as they arise.


Focus on…


Your intention: What do you want to happen as a result of the conversation you know you need to have? Be clear about the purpose or expectation you have for the conversation.


For example, your intention may be to encourage some type of change or to help someone improve performance. Maybe you’re trying to smooth relationships.


Your tone: What do you want the person to feel as a result of the conversation? Encouragement? Trust? Willingness to improve?


Keep your tone light when you can. If you are stressed and serious, other people will sense that. Have a positive expectation for the conversation.


Your questions: Hear the difference between…”WHAT were you thinking?” and “What do you think you can do differently next time?”


Use good questions to help bring out the best in others, not to shut them down.


Your timing: Timing is everything. If you are reacting to a person or situation that makes you angry, wait. Allow the dust in your mind to settle.


Many times the situation is not as bad as it first appears. Even if you’re ready to have the conversation, the timing may be off for the other person. Read the other person. Open a difficult conversation when people are more likely to be receptive.


More people and companies are recognizing the value of coaching conversations to address difficult issues. They realize that the role of the leader is not always to solve problems, but to be a good coach or mentor–to build capability in others.


Whether you are trying improve a difficult situation or develop a top performer, make your conversation count.


WorkMatters-Newsletter-JUL2016-Cover-LOIf you, or someone you know, wants to lead a little easier, DOWNLOAD my latest newsletter on how to have coaching conversations that get results. 


The newsletter includes a short coaching conversation checklist to serve as a guide. 
You’ll reduce your stress and increase confidence in your coaching conversations.
Share it with others who may benefit!


What have you learned?

Your team wants to know.

With Father’s Day approaching, I’m reminded of one of my dad’s favorite sayings, “She’ll learn.”
bikeHe used to say that at times when I made decisions that he didn’t necessarily agree with.
It was a way of allowing me to let my own experiences teach me lessons…like the time I insisted on learning how to ride my bike on my own without training wheels. I was in Kindergarten when our family lived in Boston. I crashed a number of times.
Even though I didn’t want Dad’s help, I knew he was there. I learned.
In your leadership role, it’s tempting to want to guide, direct, teach or coach those you lead. And that’s a good thing.
However, there are times when your team members need to learn on their own through their own experience. Sometimes you want to jump on the bike and show them how it’s done. Or you may want to help them pedal faster…or slam on the brakes!
If they need a new bike, help them get one or build one.
Let them ride.
You’ll be helping them build capability through their own experience.
To foster their development, do the following:
  • Ask what they have learned recently about a success and/or failure. Have them reflect on what they did well and what they would do differently.
  • Ask them to share their learning in some way. For example, they could share what they have learned in a team meeting, especially if it will help someone else.
  • Challenge them to take on another task or responsibility that stretches them out of their comfort zone.
  • Recognize their efforts. Yes, results are important, but you can’t win them all. Reinforcing effort will help them stay more motivated.
  • Model the learning behavior you want to see in them. Let them know what you’re learning based on your own leadership experience.
You may have a strong team with great skills, but if they are not continually
learning, they won’t maximize their potential.
Next time you find yourself in a typical meeting with everyone reporting in on activities or giving status updates, invite each person to share something
specific they have learned through the project or through their experience with the team.
Break the “busyness” with just a little time to reflect. You’ll likely gain valuable tips, insights or ideas you may not have considered.
Try it. You’ll learn. 🙂


What’s Your First Warning Sign?

It was last Wednesday, 3:00 in the morning. I woke up to sounds of chirping in the house. Not birds. A dying smoke detector battery.

change batteryI thought I could roll over and go back to sleep, but the chirping continued every few seconds. Torture.

My groggy teenage son and I both fought the battle trying to quiet that thing. He had an important test the next day and I had a speaking engagement. The pressure was on.

We hit the wrong button on the detector that set off all of the other detector alarms in the house. The sound changed from incessant chirping to excruciating screeching. Dog went ballistic and started barking. We got things stirred up.

Eventually we were able to pry open the detector and replace the battery, but not without losing sleep…and almost losing our hearing!

The truth is I had heard one little chirp a couple of weeks ago, but I tried to ignore it. Got busy. Hoped it would go away. I didn’t want to deal with it.

I should have responded then.

And so it goes with business. You know the signs, but you don’t want to pay attention to them.

It could be the first squabble between two employees, but you believe they’ll work things out.

It could be the first customer complaint, but it’s probably someone having a bad day.

It could be that inappropriate comment made by someone on the management team. Surely he knows better.

It could be the slowing speed of your computer, but it will still function.

It’s easy to be busy in your leadership role, but part of good leadership requires taking preventive action. Sometimes taking preventive action doesn’t seem like you’re making progress, but by taking action when you see the first sign of trouble, you are protecting your business.

You save your company time and money. You likely save yourself and others headaches that come from situations that have been allowed to fester.

Here are some reasons that might keep you from taking action when you first see a sign:

  • You underestimate the severity of the situation.
  • You don’t know what to do to address it.
  • You’re afraid to address it, or don’t want to deal with it on your own.

When you first see a sign of potential trouble, take some kind of action, quickly.

Get ideas, suggestions or counsel if needed. Don’t let it continue.

Develop your responsiveness to instincts or observations. They might make you uncomfortable or require a little extra effort to deal with.

Trust that you’ll be able to handle the situation now–whatever it is–compared to what it could turn out to be down the road.  Be grateful for the warning signs.

PS: If you’re seeing initial (or continuing) warning signs, let me know if you’d like to discuss how I can help.