Last year I got to know someone who claims to be a business expert online, targeting entrepreneurs. This person’s a good public speaker, who does detailed homework beforehand. They’re very bright, quick to get on top of complex matters and come up with many ideas. Their background is in government and social enterprise, making them a thorough, diligent and values-based teacher.

But they are no more an entrepreneurism expert than I am a polar explorer. Nothing on their cv backs up this id, and nothing about the way they think suggests it. They have great qualities to offer, but knowing how to make business succeed is not one of them. There is no marriage between the values they’ve demonstrated in the past, and what they champion currently.

Desperate to get something to work, they now create multiple Facebook accounts and fake identities online, thrust towards us by Google’s appetite for links and connection.

A Clear Why

If I knew this person better, I would have plonked a copy of ‘Start With Why’by Simon Sinek on the top of their Christmas stocking.

This cracking book presses home the importance of being able to articulate clearly what value backs up your purpose and action. Whenever I’ve gone astray on projects, it’s almost always because I’ve deviated too far from a path of trying to make psychology accessible, entertaining and useful. And for some of us being very good at making money may be a legitimate value. (Tip: it’s more likeable one if you spread the cash about a bit)

This ‘why?’ behind what we do can be difficult to articulate, but turn into a most powerful attractor for others. We’ll sense coherence and integrity: the whole of you making sense.

And while I don’t want to go all new agey on you, it’s worth mentioning that high performance sports coaches often nod vigorously when presented with an idea of ‘aligned psychic energy’ – that their athletes have a clear ‘why?’ from their past that creates a platform for their direction in the future.

A Sense of Progress

If motivation has a universal currency, it is that of a sense of progress. Which means measuring ( what matters gets measured ), coaching oneself and recognising and celebrating small wins. Much more than lofty vision, this is the small but critical stuff of improvement, which keeps us doggedly going from day-to-day.

One of the most popular recent books on motivation, Dan Pink’s Drive champions this view. And in austere times, with many of us facing daily battle with budget cuts, rejection and reduced opportunity – well wow – how small progress matters…

Plus and Minus Thinking

Health promotion experts know that it’s more effective to get people to change behaviour if you suggest what they will lose (a breast, a testicle, or several pounds of lardy fat) than if you suggest what they will gain (piece of mind, a sense of taking responsibility, size 12 clothes). So fear will often force us to take action.

BUT if we focus on the downside and denial of diet, exercise regime or being more tolerant parents, we’re asking ourselves to keep moving forward to a negative charge. We need to be clear about where our pluses and minuses are and to play substitutions and trade-offs with them.

So in the cowshed, we’re starting 2013 with carbs in the minus column offset by pleasure of control-freakery in the plus one. Will keep you posted on progress.

Structure For Easy

Research shows that people stick to a gym schedule if it is within 10 minutes from their home or work place. It helps if you don’t have to think too much what you’re doing… just get there and start it up, and then 7 minutes in realise the full horror of pounding on the treadmill.

In ‘The Power of Habit’, a must read for ardent self-improvers, Charles Duhigg describes how the trigger for a habit and the pay-off will remain the same… it’s what we do in the middle bit that counts.

I should add that this carrot I’m puffing on while writing this, does suck magnificently well…

Goals And Direction

Most of us know goals are important and that they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed…BUT the start-up world is full of tales of businesses ‘pivoting’. That is, turning round what they do into something quite different when feedback indicates this would make good sense.

An over-fixation with specific goals can blinker us to changes that are happening in our environment, and often when life is creating a lot of churn, it may be easier to focus on moving in a general direction.

Whatever your goals or direction for 2013, I wish you success and a happy new year.

And my friend? Maybe this year’s the time to experiment with being real. Results may not be what they fear.

By szcz

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