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Read me like a book by starting at the beginning

You’re Not A Machine

Date - 10 July 2016/ Category - Personal Lessons
Personal lessons

One of my favourite hobbies is going to the gym. I don’t go to compete on stage or look better than anyone else (although I’ll admit when I started out I did think it would help me seem more attractive to the opposite sex).

The gym for me is a way to de-stress. When you work in a business you can often find your mind clouded by the situation at hand and for me, going to the gym at lunch is a great way to take my mind off work, get some clarity and allow myself to figure out someone’s perspective.

It really important that you learn three key skills early on if you’re going to be fantastic at what you do.

The first is to “warm up your mind”; for me I’ve still not quite figured this one out. The best example of a warm mind is when you’re just firing out ideas for fun. It’s something that happens to me regularly, it’s like your mind just goes into turbo mode and suddenly being creative or solving problems is easy.

I tend to find my mind is warmed up by reading material relevant to the subject at hand.

If I’m having problems coming up with a new business, I’ll read the autobiography of someone who created a great business and the synergies I’ll find will get my creative juices flowing. The downside to this approach though is that it makes reading exceptionally slow.

It will take me 3x as long as it should to read a book because at my best for every sentence I read a new idea pops into my head and I have to write it down fast. More often than not I’m reading a book in bed and have to dash downstairs to type out my idea on the laptop. I’ve still not quite figured out how to take the laptop to bed.

The second is to “clear your mind”; for me this is where the gym comes in. Being outside of the work place also lifts any preconceived constraints that you place on yourself simply because you associate your place of work with rules; thinking outside of the box can sometimes being as easy as leaving the box that is the office.

If the gym isn’t for you it could be anything. A hobby like playing football, watching films or walking the dog.

Whatever it is it needs to stop you thinking about the problems you have right now and give your mind a break from the often crushing feeling a problem can create.

The third is learning to “switch off”. We all struggle with this, but if you’re going to have a normal family life or just want to sleep at night then it’s something you need to do often. For anyone that runs a small business, especially one that flies close to the wire, this will be the hardest thing you learn today.

By our very nature, business owners never switch off.

For me, I read and read. Often this works to warm up my mind too (which seems counterproductive). Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m lying in bed but the by-product of being creative is being tired too. You can only create so much before you start churning out crap. That’s why for me I read at night. I tire out my brain so I can sleep.

There’s another benefit to reading at night. I suffer quite badly from the guilt of doing nothing.

To me, when I get home, I’m itching to create something but those precious hours with your kids should never be sacrificed. If I know I’m going to read later, then for me it’s easier to spend 5-8pm with my daughter because I’m not feeling guilty about “taking time off”.

I apply the same logic to my diets (these start just after family photos at Christmas). The way my brain works, I can easily forgo the immediate pleasure of eating a chocolate bar if I know that I will eat it on my cheat day at the weekend instead.

I think that ability to forgo a benefit now is also the basis of what make most entrepreneurs tick; forgo something now so that in the future it will come back tenfold (or so you hope).

Chapter Summary:

• You need to learn to manage stress if you are to keep performing
• Your brain is a tool and its performance can be improved
• Warming up, keeping your mind clear of problems and being able to switch off are key abilities you need to learn

Read our next blog post “Only compete against yourself”.

Tags :

stress, self-help,