Do you swing between feeling good and challenged in your business? Here’s how to keep them both in balance.
Lift. Relax. Lift. Relax.
If you spend any time in a gym, you’ll have seen how weightlifters train. It’s a gradual, conscious process of slowly building up strength through challenge and release.
It’s that combination that allows the muscle to regenerate and grow stronger.
However, if you over-challenge that muscle before it’s ready, it gives up. If you attempt an Olympic weight when you’ve just lifted your first 20kg, you’ll risk long-term injury.
Running your own business is the same.
No achievement comes without stretch. But if we stretch ourselves too far and too fast, we put our businesses at risk by relying on something that’s not safe or sustainable.
Understand your personality to know your risks
We all have natural preferences for how we get things done. Your personality and the sum of all your experiences make some tasks much easier for you than others.
So here’s the tension.
Working with your natural strengths allows you to maximize your energy. It’s often more fun. It’s what you set up your business for.
But without stretch, nothing happens.
How to balance stretch and release
A key personality factor in getting things done is understanding whether your natural strength is thinking or doing.
We’ve all grown up learning how to do some of both, and of course we need to. But we’re naturally better at one than the other – meaning that we do it more automatically, and with less stress.
The difference between Thinking and Doing personalities
If you’re a Thinker by preference, you’ll be energized by ideas, connections, purpose or visions. You’re likely to enjoy working with concepts or which have a strong fundamental purpose.
However, when a Thinker is under pressure, tired or stressed, you’ll find it challenging to get things started, or to stick with something that involves lots of implementation. Too much of that, and a Thinker ends up with a pile of ideas, and business that doesn’t move.
A Doer, by contrast, loves to get stuck in and keep things moving. If you’re a Doer, you’ll want to make practical progress you can see, right now.
On the other hand, when you’re under stress, you’ll resist having to take a step back to evaluate what’s going on. That means that a stressed Doer risks haring off in the wrong direction, wasting even more time and energy.
Why your preferences shape your success
When you’re well rested and energised, you can easily compensate for your weaknesses. You can use your weaker muscle because it’s had enough rest.
But working in the way that isn’t natural takes more effort.
That means that as you get more stressed, you’ll revert even more to your preferred way of working. So a Thinker finds it harder and harder to take effective action, while a Doer buries themselves deeper and deeper in mindless busyness.
And the problem you’re facing? It’s just got worse.
How to work with your weaker muscles
Firstly, work out whether you’re a Thinker or a Doer by nature. It may be clear to you, or take the free Vitally Productive online assessment to help you.
Look for circumstances where you’re likely to need your ‘weaker muscle’ for an extended period. Thinkers are likely to be challenged by a big practical project, while Doers will be stretched by a period of extended analysis or thinking.
Your goals is to use your natural muscles as much as you can, while managing the amount of stress you place on your weaker ones.
Firstly, consider how you can maximise your existing strengths in that project. Just asking yourself that question often brings up new ideas and ways you could approach it.
So, here are the 5 keys
- Build up your weaker muscle before you need it. That could be learning a new skill you’ll need, doing research and planning in advance or creating habits around doing routine jobs that are challenging.
- Consider what systems you can put in place now to make your life easier when the pressure builds. Automate as much as you can, especially for things that you tend to delay doing or that take more effort for you.
- Bring in help that supports your area of weakness, ideally before you need it. Once you hit stress, you’ll be much less able to think clearly and take action to outsource or delegate.
- Spread the load by starting work on challenging areas before you need to. You’ll almost certainly have a tendency to want to put it off by telling yourself it will be fine. It might be, but at a cost.
- Schedule challenging work for times when you’re well rested. If you find mundane tasks massively difficult, you may need to do them first thing in the morning, no matter what conventional time management tells you.
- Balance out your challenges by doing work that plays to your natural preferences. Whether that’s over the course of a day or a week, make sure you give yourself time to recover. Lift. Relax. Lift. Relax. What’s one thing can you do in your business today to use your natural strength and build your weaker muscle deliberately?
Let me know in the comments!
photo credit: deathtothestockphoto.com