A few days ago I was having coffee with someone I’d met at a coaches’ event. She was relatively new as an entrepreneur – two years full-time on her own compared to my (I can’t believe this!) over twenty.
As we wrapped up our meeting, she asked me for any words of advice from my years of experience. I surprised myself with how quickly they came to mind and how applicable my advice is to leadership overall. Here are a few of my words of wisdom:
- Take care of yourself, even when you don’t have time to – My business is extremely busy right now, which is wonderful. It’s been this way for a few months. I recently reminded my business partner to take time for herself. “Make sure you work out,” I said. “Take time for you so that you don’t go under. We can’t go into overwhelm.” When you’re busy you have to make time for self-care and self-replenishment, or you’ll have nothing to give. As I’ve written in my personal blog, www.lisakohnwrites.com, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first, so you can breathe.
- Take care of yourself when things are slow – It’s easy to get down on yourself when business is slow (even if it’s not your own business). It wasn’t that long ago that we had a down period, and I realized I had to reframe my work mentally in order to feel better about the lull. For a few months I described my business (only to myself) as a part-time job, and I took the extra time in my life as a gift and enjoyed it. I spent more time with friends; I went on more walks and to more yoga classes; I read for business and for fun. This reframing allowed me to not freak out about not being busy enough. Even if it’s not your business and you don’t have the freedom to spend time elsewhere; if you’re not busy enough, you can find a way to enjoy it rather than beat yourself up about it.
- Work with people you love – Or at least work with people you love to work with. Life is too short to spend it with people who drive you crazy, if you don’t have to. As an entrepreneur you have a choice and can choose not to bring on someone who pushes all your buttons. As a leader in an organization you can find your tribe, your “peeps,” and make sure you spend time (as much as possible) with them as well.
- Charge more than you think you’re worth at first – You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else does. As an entrepreneur you have to be willing to put a stake in the ground and to see the value you bring to your clients. As a leader in an organization you have to know and own your strengths. You have to see the value you bring to your team, your boss, your colleagues.
- Do the work you love – Your passion and enthusiasm will make work not seem like work. They will make your days go quickly, and they will be contagious. If you can’t do work you love, find something to love about the work you’re doing.
- Keep learning – And growing. Life is too short to stagnate, and there’s always more to learn and new ways to look at things. Make personal and professional development part of your career path.
- Find things to laugh about and people to laugh with – As we’ve written before, laughter is a great medicine. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur, and it’s tough to be a leader in an organization. Laughter can make it all easier and better. Be willing to look for, and enjoy, the silly, absurd, and lighthearted aspects of your life and work.
- Get all the support you can – We’ve had two amazing virtual assistants for years. Many coaches ask us why we spend money in that way. I know I couldn’t do my business and live my life without this support. Whether you’re on your own, running a small business, or leading a huge organization, you need support. Find it. Hire it. Pay for it. And appreciate it. You can’t do it alone.
I’ve been doing this for a while, and there are things I’ve learned along the way – ideas that make my life and business better and suggestions I share with my clients to help make their lives and work better. As always, we have a choice in how we engage with our work, our lives, and the people around us. We have a choice to be Thoughtful, and to make our world a better place.
What have you learned in your years of experience?
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