I just read thought leader Seth Godin’s post, Subconscious pre-filtering. As always, his writing is insightful and inspiring. He writes:
It’s entirely possible to believe that your ideas come from the muse, and your job is to simply amplify them. And that successful people are lucky because the muse keeps giving them useful and powerful ideas.
I’m not sure that’s what successful people do. All of us get an endless supply of ideas, notions and inklings. Successful people, often without realizing it, ignore the ones that are less likely to ‘work’, and instead focus on the projects that are more likely to advance the mission.
It’s possible to get better at this pre-filtering. By doing it out loud. By writing out the factors that you’re seeking, by explaining to someone else how your part of the world works.
Instinct is great. It’s even better when you work on it.
I agree with him on so many points:
· The ability to quickly “sort and focus” is fundamental to success
· It’s possible to get better at pre-filtering
· Successful people focus on the projects that advance the mission
And, I offer additional thoughts on improving the pre-filtering process beyond Godin’s suggestions.
If you are like my clients and me, you are a “right-brain” leaning, tuber-creative, solopreneur whose “ideas, notions, and inklings” are truly endless. So being able to sort ideas and focus is crucial to your success.
As a business coach, I work with clients to gain the skill and confidence to do just that. Over the years I have identified three areas that serve as exceptional filters for business decisions. To move your business forward, you must be clear about these three points:
· Why am I really in business?
· What is non-negotiable for me to feel my business is successful?
· How do I want to spend time in my business?
1. Why am I really in business?
Clarifying why you are doing what you are doing is crucial for you to feel solid in your work, and supports the pre-filtering, decision-making process.
Let me explain.
I was exploring with a fellow coach an idea on how we could collaborate on future client work. I mentioned my concern that we had different client bases — his target clients are corporations, while mine are visionary small-business owners.
His response was that my expertise was transferable. Although I noticed a slight resistance to that inside myself, I let it go. We made plans to meet and explore possibilities in a couple weeks.
Within days after that first conversation, I understood my reaction. I believe my work has greater impact when I work with small-business owners than with corporate employees.
In part it is because my background is in small business. More importantly, coaching professionals — consultants, coaches, and healers — whose work directly impacts the quality of their clients’ lives, brings me great satisfaction. It’s what drives my work.
I didn’t want to transfer my skill set to another client base. I decided not to go to the follow-up meeting and did not pursue our potential collaboration.
Because I was clear on my reason for being in business, I was able to quickly pre-filter this opportunity and stay on course with my mission.
2. What is non-negotiable for me to feel my business is successful?
Knowing what is most important to you makes decision-making easier.
For example, when a former client received a call from his local community college to teach a class, he answered with a quick and enthusiastic yes. Why was it so easy for him to respond with confidence? He knew what to answer because previously we had spent time clarifying that one measure of success for him would be contributing to his industry’s future.
When you are clear about the three questions to filter ideas, you help your values come to life within your business. For instance, I highly value continued learning, so one of my non-negotiables is, “It is essential that I am always involved with professional development.”
How that looks in my life is that I participate in courses, read many books, and attend a lot of presentations. Knowing what’s important, I choose how I invest my resources.
When you are clear on your non-negotiables, you will spend less time on projects that don’t lead to the future you envision.
3. How do I want to spend time in my business?
Very few things impact business success more than building your daily activities around the intrinsic strengths you love using. This includes using them as the foundation for the products and services you offer, as well as your marketing activities.
For example, there is a woman in my professional community who I have watched blossom over the last couple years.
She has been a successful hair stylist for decades and loves helping women look their best. She’s known for her outgoing and inclusive personality, and she brings generosity and light-heartedness to all that she does.
A couple years ago she expanded her offerings to include helping her clients understand the colors and styles that are most becoming on them. Her business continues to grow and stretch into areas she could only have dreamed about a few years ago.
Recently, I heard that she would be co-facilitating a daylong program with a regionally known fashion expert. Her transformation hasn’t been quick or magical. She has been engaged every step of the way, clearly leveraging her strengths and having the time of her life.
When you are clear on which part of your work brings you the most joy, you have one more way to pre-filter decisions and shape your business to fit you.
The resiliency that comes from being clear on these three foundational questions takes time to develop, but the resulting ease of decisions is well worth the time and effort invested.
In time, you will find you have increased capacity for what Godin refers to when he says, “Successful people, often without realizing it, ignore the ones [ideas] that are less likely to ‘work’, and instead focus on the projects that are more likely to advance the mission.”
Roberta Ryan is a business coach who helps “right-brain” professionals recognize their value, make their vision real, and sustain a business that serves the greater community. To find out more, please visit www.RobertaRyan.com