7 unexpected tips for building your business strength

mindfulnessAn unexpected truth about building a strong business in a time of change and a world of uncertainty.

Building a strong business requires dedicating oneself to a host of different activities. One of these is the requirement to look after your number one asset. Yes, that’s you.

The cost of busy

How many hours a week do you currently lose in unfocussed thinking, procrastination, fruitless worrying or disturbed sleep? How can our business be strong if we do not look after our own health? This includes mental and emotional health as well as physical.

We all know that to build a strong body we need to exercise regularly to build muscle and develop core strengths. It is less well known perhaps that resting is an integral and essential part of developing this strength. Without periods of respite to assimilate the benefits of activity the body becomes fatigued and can burn itself out. Injuries and discomfort can ensue.

It is tempting, as an entrepreneur, to think that we have to carry on regardless and that this relentless drive to succeed makes us stronger. I have discovered that we ignore the need to balance work with deep restorative relaxation and rest at our peril.

Switching off

Deep relaxation is not sleep. Deep rest is not flaking out in front of the telly with a glass of red wine in one hand and cigarette in the other. It is an old fashioned model of building a business that requires us to kill ourselves in the process of making shed loads of money.

There is a common cycle that people find themselves in, using stimulants to wake them up in the morning and depressants to get to sleep. Their minds chatter away giving regular reminders of what they have yet to do and scaring themselves with images of what might happen if they don’t. There is no respite and no hiding from their own sense of never quite doing enough to stem the ceaseless internal dialogue.

The body pumps cortisone, adrenaline and other stress hormones round and round. Hormones that evolved over thousands of years to deal with emergencies and occasional crises become lodgers and take up permanent residence.

Without balance eventually the body keels over, perhaps it’s a broken bone through clumsiness or worse still a heart attack or debilitating illness. Sometimes the mind bends too far and something snaps requiring medical intervention.

Many people turn to meditation and mindfulness practises to find that elusive peace of mind.

David Lynch has made an interesting documentary about his experience of the benefits of meditation.

Many of the most successful people in public life are meditators and this is no coincidence.

Business opportunities

There is also a blossoming of businesses devoted to providing retreats and nourishment for busy people as we leave behind the past values around having to work harder and rest being for sissies or lazy people. This reflects a shift in values in our society that has been hinting for a while that perhaps the quality of life requires more than just material satisfaction.

Underneath all of this lie our personal values and sense of identity.

Real wealth

To appreciate the need for rest amid the turmoil and high activity of running a business requires that we value ourselves, our health, our relationships and the qualities we create in our lives above the mere making of money. Paradoxically wealth often comes hand in hand with an ability to let go, chill out and take stock on a regular basis.

You may have noticed that you make wiser business decisions after a moment of reflection, are less reactive and more creative in your approach after a time of relaxation.

Our identity as a hard working, committed business woman can shift from carrying on regardless to one of being a women who looks after herself, takes her time, enjoys life, then like a cat has the energy to spring into action the moment it is required.

A highly successful sports therapist once told me that her ability to work long hours and achieve great business success comes directly from her awareness of the importance of resting.

Unhooking the mind, body and emotions in a deeply relaxing way is a little bit like rebooting a computer.We all know that turning it off and then on again can mend a host of frustrating problems with our technology, the same seems to be true for our bodies and minds.

Where to start?

  1. Choose something you genuinely enjoy. It’s no good plugging away at a class if it leaves you feeling frustrated, bored or unfulfilled.
  1. Try things out with a friend or colleague. We are more likely to attend regularly if we buddy up with someone else.
  1. Retrain and become the instructor. Then you have to turn up to class.
  1. Book space in your diary for chilling out, reflection, pampering.
  1. Learn to delegate.
  1. Cost in restorative activity. (retreats, spas, holidays)
  1. Become an expert in perfecting your resting skills.

I have coached people at all stages of this cycle and notice that those who most need to take a break are those who feel most driven to carry on regardless. It’s a wise and clever person who takes heed and implements strategies to balance out the stress before nature plays her sometimes devastating cards and forces the issue.

Anne Francis

Anne Francis

Anne set up her first business in 1985. She currently runs Carnival Consulting specialising in socially motivated business support and a fitness company Dance Fitness Norfolk. She regularly contributes to local media, is a former ambassador for Norwich Lanes, a Princes Trust mentor and was on the committee of FSB for several years.
Anne Francis

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3 Responses to 7 unexpected tips for building your business strength

  1. Glynn Burrows March 1, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Lots of great ideas there and I applaud and agree with the suggestions expressed here. Life is for living. We are actually here to enjoy our lives, not detest and shy away from it. Embrace what it is which you like to do and throw away the stuff you dislike. If I find myself doing something I don’t enjoy, agree with or hate, I don’t do it again. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

    I have been through hell in my life, I know what rock bottom is and I remember what it is like being in a deep black hole with the black dog but the only thing which has changed is me. Nothing else. The world is still full of the same folk. The Country is still run by similar people and I still have the same amount of control over them as I had then. I now accept that I am only in control of me and I use that control on a daily basis. If I want something done, I get off my backside and do it.

    A few years ago, when I was still sitting in the hole with the Black Dog on my lap, someone said a few words which hit me like a slege-hammer and I still quote them to others on a regular basis:

    “This life isn’t a practice.”

    Thanks Anne. X

    • Anne Francis March 2, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

      Great comments Glynn. Your words of wisdom are obviously from someone who has been through it and come out the other side. All the best Anne

  2. Seth Greer March 13, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Anne I suddenly feel doubly strong after having read your article. It is indeed crucial that the owner has enough confidence in his business, before he even plans to move into marketing or branding. And surprisingly a confident businessman has more satisfaction come up his way than one who depends on external elements to help him secure the future of his brand. I feel better already. Thanks!

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