My previous article, “Keepin’ It 100,” really hit a nerve with my readers. I had an outpouring of responses from folks who have been, or who are currently, in that exact situation. Some worked through it, as I did. Some trudged on. Some quit. In this article, I’m going to reveal some of the things I worked on to turn myself around and embark on the journey to become the leader my employees and my business deserve. My goal is to help those who are struggling, so you don’t quit but, rather, thrive.
You might remember me telling you how I had experienced burnout. I had lost my “why.” I was spending all my time trying to manage the results of my business, and I had quit spending time thinking about why I was even in the business. When a business coach asked me why I was involved in MI, I couldn’t even remember. It took me a few minutes to remember why I had gotten into this in the first place. Then, it all started to come back to me, like a flood! I had gotten into it because I loved the gear and I loved the people. Playing music has given me my life, my family, my hobbies, my business and my friends. The coach asked how I could get back to that place…how I could lead my business using my re-found motivation. I told him I had no idea. He said that was my first task.
For some of you, that might be easy; for me, however, it was hard! I was concerned that, if I spent my time focused on this ooey-gooey, touchy-feely stuff, the bottom line might suffer. And that could cause lasting damage to the business. Plus, it just felt phony. Doesn’t every business ultimately exist just to make money? It was such a struggle for me to come up with a way to be authentic to my passion, yet still grow the bottom line. I didn’t want to walk around belching rainbows only to turn into a monster as soon as cash got tight.
The more I studied, though, the more I knew the coach was right. I had to find my “why,” and I had to operate my business from that perspective. The results—profits, cash flow, customers—would flow from my “why.” But I had to better understand my “why.” So, I did what I always do when I’m looking for answers: I Googled it.
In doing so, I came across a hugely popular and influential book, “Start With Why,” by Simon Sinek. I had purchased the print and audio version previously, and I’d listened to it. Now, though, restudying it, I found a key element that I’d missed, which unlocks the mystery. Once I learned the key, I realized many other people had missed that element, too. I’m going to share that element with you here.
The key was given to me by a couple of other business consultants, whom I’d brought on to help me with my company. In their initial conversations, they pulled it back to one simple element: What are the things you believe about your business?
The reason this is so critical is simple: What you believe informs or creates your “why.” What you believe comes first.
My initial attempts had reflected my previous thinking. They were focused on profits, cash flow, customer acquisition—in short, results not beliefs. I was challenged to scrap all of that and, instead, get into the true motivation. Take care of why you believe what you believe and the business will thrive…as long as your employees (and enough customers) can identify with those beliefs.
It’s important that the things you believe have real meaning to you, and that they’re not just general platitudes that people will read and quickly discard. In fact, some of your beliefs should show that you’re taking a stand. It’s more powerful that you believe in something deeply. In fact, it’s more effective if some of your beliefs are challenging to your audience. This engages the heart and brain to analyze what has made them uncomfortable.
This process took weeks. I wrote down my beliefs, analyzed them to be more powerful and edited them to be clearer; then, I curated the most impactful beliefs. I probably came up with 30 of them, but I narrowed them down to about a dozen.
The statements have been added to our Website; I’ll share a few of the core beliefs here:
We believe music makes every life better.
We believe good music teachers can forever change lives.
We believe everyone is a musician—even you. And you’d be happier if you played more.
We believe the notion that “you can’t carry a tune”; or “you have no talent for music,” is ridiculous.
For each of those statements, I could tell you a story about why I believe it. They are real, tangible beliefs of mine. I encourage you to make your own, and then to use them to gauge how well your business and you currently reflect those values. I’ve had to make changes to myself and to my business to reflect the things that I believe. To be totally honest—remember, we’re keepin’ it 100—some of the statements were aspirational. By that, I mean I wasn’t living up to them yet; some, I still have to work to live up to today. I’m committed to doing it, though. I’m committed to walk the talk. And that’s where it gets really hard.
Give this a shot in your business. Your employees, your customers and you yourself deserve it. Reach out to me and let me know how you’re doing:
Donovan@MusicRetailConsulting.com. And remember to keep it 100.
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