Yesterday, I had “my worst day”. I mean, not my literal “worst day”, because I totally see that worse could easily happen. And the day wasn’t as bad as the day I realized my business would have to file bankruptcy or as bad as the day I couldn’t make payroll, or as bad as the day I started realizing that losing our house was a very looming threat.
But you know that phrase, “On your worst day…”? It’s a cliche, I guess. We say, “On my worst day, I wouldn’t do that.” Or, in church sometimes I hear a speaker say something like, “God loves us, even on our worst days.”
Each application of the phrase has a different meaning. In the first usage, it’s implied that something bad has happened to you. In the second usage, it’s implied that you’ve done something bad.
Well, yesterday was one of my worst days on both accounts. Bad stuff happened, and I perpetuated the awfulness of the day by diving head-first into the spiral of a bad attitude.
I just needed to get it out of my system. (Excuse?)
I found myself asking, what’s the mindset for dealing with a bad day? There were some answers rolling around in my head, but thanks to my bad attitude, I was no where near attempting to apply them to my life.
But I’ve found the presence of mind to compile them into a list today, so if you’ll allow me to present: X things to do to get yourself out of a funk on your worst day.
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is our first line of defense. Did you know that a lack of sleep can actually cause your brain to experience trauma? No wonder new moms struggle with postpartum (myself included)! Sleep is essential. Without it, I wouldn’t be writing this post!
2. Go for a run.
I wish I was a runner. Sometimes, I pretend I am. Always, I know I need to be. But I hate sweating. That aside, I took to the streets for a job in 100 degree temps yesterday. I needed to sweat out the tears. If running truly isn’t your thing, hit the gym. But release those endorphins, somehow, someway!
3. Have a good cry.
Last night, I wanted to. I didn’t. I fought it off and stormed around the house and probably snapped at David a few times. Crying would have been better.
4. Understand your emotions.
Did you know that under stress, in fear or in hurt, people normally choose one of two responses: tears or anger? Think about that for a minute. The next time you’re angry, ask yourself if you are stressed, afraid, or hurting. The next time you’re crying, ask yourself if you are stress, afraid, or hurting. Tears and angry outbursts are just symptoms of a heart issue. Treat the heart issue instead of putting a band-aid on the symptom.
5. Tell someone.
But be careful who you tell. Not everyone can deal with your pain, and it’s not fair to put it onto the shoulders of someone who is not capable of helping you carry it or work through it. I made an odd choice and decided to tell the internets, in an instagram post. I don’t expect everyone who reads it to understand it, but I needed to get it off my chest. So, thanks, internets. And thank you to all the friends who texted in response. I’m so grateful.
6. Help someone else.
What? When I’m hurting? How does that work? I’m basically just saying, find the encouragement. We all have bad days. Bad, lonely days. If you can help someone on their worst day not feel so bad or lonely, I think we can call that a win. And let’s be honest, we’re looking for wins so we can climb out of this funk, right? Find someone else to encourage, and you’ve started to spiral up.
Maybe I should have led with this one, but it’s hard. I started my morning with prayer today, but only after I first found that good night’s sleep. It’s hard to go straight to asking for help when all you want to do is throw a spiritual tantrum. But I did, this morning. I asked for God to give me words, if there was something He wanted me to say. I asked for relief from our current circumstances. I prayed for wisdom and clarity, energy and blessings.
Maybe, if you’re still feeling like it’s easier to be in tantrum mode than prayer mode, you can steal some of my words and ask for those things. I don’t think God cares where you get the words; I think He cares that you’ve taken the time to ask. It’s a sign of humility, an act of submission, acknowledging that He’s in control and you’re done trying to control it.
And maybe, from His perspective, it wasn’t your worst day. Maybe it was your best day. Maybe all those hard things that happened are laying the groundwork for better things ahead. Maybe He’s got me/us, right where He wants me/us.
My friend Donald Miller has written: Most people try to avoid suffering, but those that accept it as a reality and seek to redeem it live a more meaningful, impactful life.
Taking your worst day, finding the good in it, that’s a redemptive perspective. And THAT is a necessary mindset not just for an entrepreneur, but for a human who wants to thrive.
This post is third in a series on developing the mindset of an entrepreneur:
From the outside, small business ownership (or, entrepreneurship), can look big and scary. A lot of people dream of owning a small business, but stand on the sidelines, and just assume that entrepreneurship couldn’t possibly be for them. In fact, sometimes, we’ll go to great lengths to avoid the call of entrepreneurship. We’ll blame confusion, or lack of training, or maybe we’ll kind of halfway start something, call it a business, but treat it like a hobby.
For those that are really committed to making their business work for them, there are hundreds of resources: e-courses and teachers and bloggers and podcasts and YouTube videos and webinars. The world is full of business advice. But it’s easy, even at that point, for overwhelm to start to set in.
The truth is, there are only really seven basic things you need to know about starting, growing, and owning a small business. Business doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the gurus out there will make it seem like it does—but there are only really seven basic systems you need to make your small business work. The main question is, do you have these seven systems in place?
Most small businesses fail not because the entrepreneur or owner doesn’t have the passion, drive or know-how to make it work but because the owner doesn’t understand these basic systems and doesn’t have standard operating procedure to keep these systems in place.
A few years ago I had a light bulb moment about creating systems that work. The amazing thing about this light bulb moment is that it led me to a paradigm shift that you can apply to your business and start seeing changes immediately. Once you understand this paradigm shift, and start applying it to your business, you’ll never look at systems the same way again. I’ll tell you about my light bulb moment, and then I’m going to tell you about the seven basic business systems you need to put into place to make sure you’re building a sustainable and profitable business.
That paradigm shift is this: don’t put the system in place that starts something, put the system in place that runs something. (Click here to tweet that!)
What do I mean by that?
Well, think about it this way. You own a business, so you need a website, right? No matter what type of business you’re trying to start or build, you’ve got to have a website. So what do you do? Hire a website designer. You get a beautiful website and blog up, and then, because you’ve got a business to run, the website just kind of sits there, doing nothing. The problem was, you put a system in place that started something, but you didn’t put a system in place to run something.
This paradigm shift is true for each of the seven essential, basic, and absolutely necessary systems you have to have in your business in order for it to run efficiently.
Curious about what they are? Let’s dive in.
- The first basic business system you need is a CUSTOMER system. Sound weird? Well, you could call it a couple of different things. You could call it a plan for customer acquisition and/or retention. You could call it a lead generation system. Whatever you call it, you need a system that not only gets your customers in the door, but you need a system for what they experience once they’re on the inside. A big mistake that a lot of start-up small businesses make is they spend money on advertising, or spend a lot of time building their social media presence, and they don’t take time to build a system that takes care of their customers once they’re on the inside.
- The second basic business system you need in place is a system for running a WEBSITE. I’m not going to try to convince you to build a website: I think everyone knows that’s essential. But you do need a system in place for keeping your website fresh and up-to-date. This means you need a system for learning and implementing SEO, or making sure your website is optimized for search engines to find it.
- The third basic business system you need is an EMAIL system. Now, I’m not talking about setting up a new gmail account, or even setting up a mail chimp account. I’m talking about a system that keeps you organized and on track for nurturing your email subscribers—a segment of followers and audience all too quickly forgotten by small business owners.
- The fourth basic business system you need is a system for ongoing CONTENT. Back to that website just sitting there. You got your website up, but how did you get people coming back to it? What content system do you have in place that’s going to keep your online presence fresh and pretty? Now, I know it’s tempting to hear the word “content” and think “blog”, but in today’s day and age, there are lots of other options for creating content. You could create videos or podcasts, or even get more creative. But you’ve got to implement a system for creating consistent, original content. (What’s going on in my life – better than nothing).
- The fifth basic business system you need is a PRODUCT system. Here’s a big mistake companies make: starting a business with one product, and forgetting to build around supporting products. Boy, do I know all about this. This was the biggest mistake I made in my first business. I had one product that did really well but I didn’t realize this couldn’t support the rest of my business.
- The sixth basic business system you need is a system for SOCIAL MEDIA. And a simple key metric for social media might be the number of followers you increased by. And while that’s super easy to track, I would encourage you to think about engagement on social media: how many comments, and questions, and ineractions did you have on social media? Consider tracking engagement instead of follower count.
- And the last and seventh basic business system you need is a system for ADMINISTRATIVE tasks. Now, what does that mean? Well, specifically, it means anything legal, financial, or both. From a non-technical standpoint, it means anything that requires a form. For my businesses, this means anything that relates to HR or hiring, and anything related to taxes or lawyers or bookkeeper or accountants.
Depending where you are in business, the way that you respond to the way you create these systems can vary dramatically, but here’s the bottom line: any successful business will have operations for each of these systems established and in place.
For more information on this topic, and to hear more about how to use key metrics to help you make progress in each of these systems, hop on over and check out the first of three videos I’m offering as part of my first free video series at Biz Designers Plan! I’ll see you over there!
My friend, Jennifer Faught, just shot me an interesting email. Her question was pretty simple: as creative entrepreneurs, we do a lot of self-discovery work. Passions, values, core, strengths. As we discover these things, how do we keep from sounding like we’re bragging? How do we keep away from boastful? How do you self-promote without sounding like an arrogant jerk?
GREAT QUESTION. And one that has been bugging me as well. Over the past several months, I’ve been having conversations with friends here and there about ego. It DRIVES. ME. NUTS. See previous blog post.
I picked the phone and called Jennifer almost immediately, hoping she would have an answer. We discussed, and here are four ways to keep your ego in check, your pride in balance, how to self-promote without sounding arrogant.
- Be equally willing to promote others. I’ve said it before, but we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, right? If someone helped you get to where you are–maybe they trained you, mentored you, offered ideas, suggestions, insight–and ESPECIALLY if they did it for free, out of friendship–the best way to say thank you is to give them credit. Offer a shout-out, a retweet, a Facebook share. They’ll be more willing to continue to help you in the future.
- Realize that you aren’t the only person in the world with that specific attribute. Someone else is ALSO good at knitting while bareback riding a horse backwards. Maybe you taught someone about the knitting part, but someone else may have taught them how to bareback ride backwards. Quit looking for credit. (Honesty: this is probably one of my biggest struggles.)
- Realize that a rising tide floats many ships. In other words, as others succeed, it’s in your best interest to help them succeed. You’ll succeed in their wake. Celebrate their time in the spotlight with them. (There are a few exceptions to this–toxic people, and people that lack character need to be eradicated from our lives–they hold us back and there is little we can do to help them out of their own toxicity. You can send prayers and good wishes from afar, without having to be daily involved in these people’s lives.)
- Be willing to offer excellent alternatives to potential customers. I once sat in a geology class, where are professor stood at the front of the class and ferociously proclaimed the pros of evolution. Curious about his willingness to see both sides, I raised my hand and asked him if there were any pros in the argument for creationism. He said that, of course not, there were none. Immediately, he lost credibility in my eyes. Intelligent people are capable of at least seeing both sides, even if they wholeheartedly choose to believe in only one side. A customer may contact you, looking for pink knit hats. If you only offer yellow, it’s only fair for you to help them on in their journey by suggesting someone who does the best pink knit hats.
Another interesting discovery: the better you know yourself, the harder it will be for you to recommend a comparable service, just because you realize that your service is unique. Someone asked me for a graphic designer recommendation the other day, but it was hard for me to offer someone who could meet their needs of time, budget, and skill. That’s tough. I still provided a name, but it took me a few days to come up with a suggestion that would benefit all parties.
An additional thought: staying humble is easier than becoming humble. The stuff that “keeps us humble” is the hard stuff, because that’s the stuff that takes us down a couple of notches. It’s a lot easier to practice humility on a regular basis than it is to go through the struggle to learn it. (I have no experience in that at all. #sarcasm)
One final note, and I say this with all humility: the more you learn to love yourself, the easier it is to love others. If you’re just starting out in your entrepreneurship journey, a lot of what you hear people saying about themselves may sound or look arrogant, but look for their willingness to help their community, refer people to alternative services and product options, and see how generous they are with the retweets and Facebook shares. Listen to the people who listen to others.
Pride comes before a fall, right?