The Brutal Truth About Clarity

The big picture concept.As someone who reads a lot of business-related blogs, books and magazines, I know how important it is to be clear about your clients, services and goals. But it always sounds like a fulfilling process of enlightenment, which is the opposite of my recent experiences.

A few months ago, I was excited to spend five days at an industry convention where — in addition to learning a whole lot of interesting information — I was hoping to connect with my ideal clients. I’d spent a lot of money for airfare, entrance fees and hotel accommodation.

And then I realized these were not my ideal clients. Not even close. Essentially I had wasted thousands of dollars on a trip that was a failure.

Well, maybe not a total failure. What I gained was clarity. I learned who my client was. I learned who they weren’t. And I realized that I was heading in the wrong direction, business-wise. It was not the uplifting few days that I’d planned on!

Thankfully, I have friends who helped me view my experience in a new way. Rather than paying a consultant to help me define my customer, I figured it out myself. I had clarity.

Even though we seek clarity,  there’s a part of the process we don’t talk about. Clarity sucks. At least it does initially. Nobody really wants to face the truth about their life … especially if it means owning up to a bad decision or being forced to make unpleasant changes

Thankfully clarity is eventually followed by perspective, and we ultimately realize that clarity is a gift. Of course, I would prefer to just do everything right the first time, but that doesn’t always work out.

Today, blog about a situation that gave you clarity in your business. If you like, explain how this experience ultimately moved you closer (or farther away) from your goals.

Happy Peculiar People’s Day

Peculiar People Day is celebrated on January 10th. It is a day to celebrate unique and eccentric people in your life.

The Peculiar People were founded in 1838 in England and practiced a puritanical form of Christianity that included faith healing. Some Peculiar parents were thrown in jail when they refused to give their children medical treatment during the 1910 diphtheria outbreak. At this point the sect split between the ‘Old Peculiars,’who refused medicine, and the ‘New Peculiars,’ who reluctantly accepted it. In 1956, when the Peculiar People changed their name to the Union of Evangelical Churches (EUC) which are still in existence. (Source: NationalWhateverDay.com)

Failing Forward by John Maxwell

Some of you know the story of my quilting business, which came to an unfortunate end due to injuries from a car accident. Let’s just say that it didn’t feel good to have failed in business, even if the reasons were beyond my control. I was telling the story recently and this book was highly recommended. I read it in one sitting and found it to be incredibly encouraging.

Since most of us grew up attending school, we have preconceived ideas that we either pass or fail. Failure, of course, is bad and should be avoided. John Maxwell suggests that we view failure as a natural part of life that should be expected. We use these experiences to learn and to make different decisions in the future. He gives dozens of examples of people who took actions, made mistakes, and were ultimately successful. I think this book is especially valuable as we evaluate the past year and look ahead.

Check Please!

?????????Since it’s the new year, it’s time to talk about resolutions. One of my biggest resolutions — after losing enough weight that I look like a super model and can use my modeling income to pay off my mortgage–  is to become more organized.

Most people would find this surprising, since I’m someone who would probably already be rated 9 out of 10 on the organization scale! I will admit that the big things in our family always get done. Bills are paid on time. Oil changes were done on schedule. And my Christmas shopping is usually complete by December 1st. So life on the home front functioned well.

My big challenge was travel. For many years, I took quilting classes. I would get to the class and have forgotten something critical such as fabric, the foot for my machine, or the pattern. Sometimes I could re-purchase the item. However  there were times when I had to forfeit the class or make the long drive home for my forgotten item. It got to the point that I didn’t even want to take a class, because I knew I’d forget something critical.

My life changed when I created a checklist of basic supplies needed for a class. Now I print off a copy from my computer and I’m all set. No more missing pins or fabric!

As a result, I became a big proponent of checklists. I figure that, if they’re good enough for pilots planning a flight, they’re good enough for planning my life. They save me time and mental energy. Now I even have a list on my bathroom cabinet that lists my medications, along with my morning and evening routines. Although I always remember to brush my teeth, I have been known to forget my asthma medication and can thank the checklist for the reminder.

One of the best uses of checklists is to systematize your business. When you do things the same way, at the same time, you aren’t missing steps and messing yourself up. It also means that you’ve got an operational manual written so that someone can take over your business if you hire an employee or — better yet — take a vacation!

Today, blog about a New Year’s resolution or a strategy for organizing your business.