I’ve been dark these past few weeks after finishing my first major launch. I wanted to have some time to both recover and think through what I could share that would have the most value to you.
Of course, what immediately comes to mind are all the distinctions about how to maximize squeeze pages, split test your offer, use webcasts to increase sales, manage affiliates, and so on.
But as I was thinking about this, I realized that there’s something deeper I want to share – something that I believe is the single most important thing in your business today.
The launch was one of the most intense projects of my business career – and that is saying a lot after 20 years with Anthony Robbins – and I came out of it a changed – and hopefully evolved – person.
I’ll be honest, the process wasn’t always pretty behind the scenes. As I’m sure you’ve done on big projects, my husband and I both sacrificed sleep, food, time with our kids, time with each other, exercise and gave pretty much all our waking time to this launch. The tougher part, however, was trying to process the vulnerability, fear, frustration, disappointment, loss of certainty, and still figure out how to show up at a peak performance level.
And then came the feedback, mostly from well-intentioned people, but it came from every direction and at all levels of intensity.
In the words of the late Coach John Wooden, “It’s what you learn after you ‘know everything’ that really counts.” Truer words were never spoken.
So here are five lessons that I hope help you think BIG as you build your business – and stay sane. (And, in my next blog, I’ll be sure to tackle some of the marketing and sales lessons that can increase your bottom line.)
1. Put yourself in situations that will stretch you, not only from a business perspective, but on an emotional level as well.
This is one of those “easier said than done” elements. It all sounds good until you have tears streaming down your face, need to be on camera in 6 minutes, and you have one person screaming at you to be more vulnerable on air and another telling you not to feel anything. (True story.)
But, when you do something requires more of you than you’re used to giving or that necessitates you executing at another level, a whole new world of things that used to seem impossible suddenly becomes possible – or even easy.
On a spiritual level, I believe the universe responds when you take that leap of faith to get to the next level. Of course, you’re going to experience road blocks on that path. The secret is to see those road blocks as the real value in the journey, not the ultimate destination.
2. Know your strengths and build on them.
I’m not fond of admitting my weaker areas. More to the point, I hate having my weaknesses thrown in my face. One of the biggest challenges with the way we set up the launch is that it put me in a position of doing things that weren’t consistent with my strengths.
Now, I’m not just talking about skill sets. I’m all for learning new skill sets, as long as I’m not going to blow things up. I’m talking about roles that challenged my emotions and need structure because I needed to “be” or “feel” a certain way to pull off what we were trying to do.
Part of knowing your strengths is understanding who you are and what you need emotionally to feel strong, centered and happy. You cannot try to push down parts of yourself or change how you’re wired emotionally based on the context.
What you can do is make sure that you put yourself in situations where your true nature is reinforced. Then it’s easy to be who you really are.
In the future, I’ll continue stretch myself, but I’ll make sure that the environment around me 1) reinforces my true nature and 2) consists of positive people who understand my psychology and can help bring out my best.
3. Build a support network.
If you’ve ever been through a tough time – whether it be the loss of a loved one, lost your job or ended a relationship – you know the power of a support network to help pull you through.
Yet we don’t tend to think about setting up our business community so we have the support we need as we grow. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to make sure you’re not going the path alone.
First, identify your support system, which may include (1) your family and close friends, (2) your business associates, (3) people within your business community, including your customers. (The only caution here is that you don’t want to be bearing your soul to your customers – but it is valuable to know who you can count on to help spread the word, and go to bat for you online.)
Second, reach out. When times get tough, bring more people to the table who can help you break through.
People want to help. They love to feel needed. They appreciate being stretched by helping solve new problems that can move them forward as well.
You cannot build your product creation business in a vacuum. You have to do it from within a support system that will help you maximize your potential and help you conquer the inevitable challenges along the way.
4. Declare your boundaries.
I met a new coaching client last week, one who came to me as a result of our launch. I like him a lot and he has a great business model. I agreed to accelerate his progress by letting him pay for three hours of my time in one chunk.
He sent me a 42-page questionnaire, a 200 page manual, and six audios that I was asked to review prior to our session, which took 90 minutes of my time. I ask for 5-7 pages max, and no audio or video, only text or web links.
Because this person flew into town to meet with me, we agreed to go to an early dinner afterwards.
Of course, our meeting went over by 30 minutes. After a late start to dinner, I declared that I had to leave dinner by 7:45pm to be home in time to put my kids to bed.
Over dinner, I continued to be pounded with questions. At 7:35 I gently reminded him that I had to leave in 10 minutes. At 7:44, I was asked a really difficult, long question, onethat was a repeat of a lot of what we did during the session. I left at 8:05.
Now whose fault was this? Entirely mine.
I made the requests that would support my time, but I didn’t take the next step and set clear boundaries for what I was willing to accept.
I should have returned this person’s materials and let them know that he needed to resubmit them in the format I requested. I should have gently reminded him that dinner was not meant to be a continuation of the coaching. When I was asked the first question, I should have stuck to my guns. I should have stood up at 7:45 pm and left, on time, which is what really supported me and my family.
When I let him over-step my boundaries, it didn’t just affect me. It affected my family and my other clients, both of whom I now had less time with.
You must participate in your own rescue.
I can tell you this: my future clients will continue to get a ton of value from me, but when it steps over my boundaries, I’m going to speak up for myself, my family and my other clients.
5. Fight for what you really want.
I love to work. But I love to play even more than I love to work (although the play feels better after you’ve earned it).
It’s been a journey to figure out the role that work really plays in my life and how to balance it with my husband and two elementary-school-age boys, not to mention my friends, my health and the things I want to experience, share, enjoy and give.
But what this launch did is it forced my hand. I had to give up the last things I was holding onto out of fear – the areas where I was trading time for money, playing small and holding back.
The greatest irony is that I have never felt more uncertain and vulnerable in my business career, but now that it’s over, I have a new level of faith, certainty and personal power. I’ve also got incredible clarity moving forward.
It’s so easy to get caught up in valuing so what we believe to be the most important commodities in our business: our products and services, our cash reserve, our email list, our website, etc.
But the real commodity in your business? You.
You can’t be replaced. You are what your kids want when they wake up from a bad dream or when they get hurt. You are who your spouse wants to connect with at the end of the day. You are the one who can help solve problems for your clients. You are the ideas, creativity and caring in your business – and in the other parts of your life.
You are the entity that everything else needs to be set up around to support. Otherwise, you won’t be able to maximize what you’re here to share, be, do, have and give.
So my real question is, have you set yourself up so that your most important commodity is taken care of at the highest level? Have you put the stake in the ground for what you want? For what you enjoy? For how you want to spend your time adding value to others?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them with me in the comments below.