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Outsmart the Hustle

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Happy New Year!

I hope you enjoyed some reflective and restorative time during the holidays and that 2022 is off to a great start.

I took the latter part of December off. (Personally, I needed the break)

Jill and I left rainy & snowy Portland and unplugged in Mexico.

It was glorious.

It gave me a lot of time to think about our little collective of small and mighty businesses that are striving to become stable, sustainable and profitable – in a fresh light.

I’ve had so many conversations with small business owners over the past 18-24 months and some of them made me really happy while others left me feeling a bit frustrated.

But all of them made me feel hopeful.

And not hopeful in a naive ‘geez I really hope everything works out’ kind of way, but because I could see more clearly than ever all the stuff that people are struggling with IS SO EASY TO FIX!

If we could all just stop throwing spaghetti at the wall and slow down a little bit, we’d begin to see our real challenges so clearly.

And then fix those challenges once and for all instead of slapping band-aid after band-aid on them.

This whole thing made me think about some of the running-related injuries I’ve had over the years.

Specifically, I can think back to a knee injury I experienced. In the months prior to the injury I was working non-stop at a high-growth startup, eating terribly (daily lunches out with co-workers will do that to you) and working around the clock.

After weighing in at almost 190 lbs and struggling to sleep through the night, I decided I would start running to lose some weight and hopefully sleep better.

But I didn’t just decide to become a casual runner. I signed up for half marathon races and decided to become an expert at running in the next month.

This, of course, was a terrible idea. I think I made it through a couple of months of pretty intense training and ended up not being able to walk without having severe pain in my knee.

Oops.

I thought I just needed to keep running and push through the pain and everything would eventually work out.

It did not.

So I went searching for solutions on the internet, hoping to find a quick fix to heal my broken knee and get back to running.

I bought foam rollers, different kinds of shoes, and even visited a surgeon who wanted to do knee surgery.

And despite all of my efforts to fix my ailing knee, I never stopped to ask “I wonder what’s causing my knee pain in the first place?”

I finally took the advice of a fellow runner and went to see a physical therapist to assess the situation.

And guess what?

He went straight to the root cause of the problem. My upper body was out of alignment, causing my body to twist every time I took a stride which eventually resulted in severe knee pain.

My knee wasn’t the problem. It was another part of my body that was out of alignment that was causing my knee pain.

Looking back it’s really obvious that if I had just slowed down to listen to my body, I would’ve heard it talking to me – warning me to look for the root cause of my budding knee pain instead of continuing to train harder and throwing band-aid fixes at it.

Why am I telling you this? Because we do the same thing in business.

Our instinct when things aren’t quite right is to go bigger, push harder, add more, throw a little more spaghetti against the wall.

And this is why I’m both frustrated and hopeful after sitting with my thoughts about what keeps us stuck in overwhelm, feeling desperate to try another new tactic or strategy to move our businesses forward.

It’s almost never our level of skills or our ability to follow through on a plan – but our awareness and our decision-making when it comes to our businesses.

Because the solutions to the pain that so many of us are experiencing have nothing to do with adding more or hustling harder, but everything to do with learning how to listen to our businesses and then responding appropriately.

Because your business is talking to you in exactly the same way your body is.

And it’s about time we started listening and looking for the root cause.

I have more coming for you over the next few weeks on how to do exactly that, so watch for me in your inbox. Now that my winter sabbatical is over I have a few things to say.

Live bravely,
Michael

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