Self-Management for Entrepreneurs – Managing Ourselves Review Part 1
“Over the years, I’ve started to see business as a mirror. Our organizations say a lot about our hopes and dreams, about the way we think, what we believe, what we do well, what we work at and how hard we work at it, what we get wrong, how we handle struggle, and how we celebrate success. All are, more likely than not, a realistic, if not always all that pleasant, reflection of who we are as leaders. More than anything, I’ll argue, our businesses manifest the way we feel about, relate to, and manage ourselves.” -from page 41 of Managing Ourselves)
To me, this was, and still is, a very scary thought. Because if true, this means that all the good, bad, and ugly of Ugly Mug Marketing are merely reflections of me. My business is a reflection of both my strengths and weaknesses.
Your business is merely a reflection of how well you manage yourself. Assuming this statement is true, how well are you doing?
It is these underlying questions that are the foundation of the book. And it is with these questions in mind that I read, and reread many of the pages of this book.
THIS IS DIFFERENT
Most of what is taught with regard to leadership centers on teaching us how to become better leaders and managers over other people. However, Ari’s argument in Managing Ourselves is that we must first learn to manage ourselves if we want to be truly effective at managing others. He makes the case that we must first turn inward and focus on getting ourselves right.
“If you’re focusing on what the other person is doing wrong, you’re probably focusing on the wrong person.” Patti McGraw – pg 41
Ari skillfully covers so many topics in this book, and all are worthy of study, However, for the sake of time, I’m only going to cover the lessons that were most meaningful to me, and the work we’re doing at UglyMugMarketing.com.
“Mind you, no matter how much we might want to, we can never really “control” our emotions; whether we like them or not, they are, like the weather, what they are. What we do have, though, is a high degree of influence over how we respond to them when they come up.” – pg 64
This was a big lesson for me. As I look back over the past few years, particularly the early years of UglyMugMarketing.com, I can now clearly see how I allowed my emotions to control so much of my business making decisions. This was probably the most evident in the area of money, and my emotions surrounding it.
As a truly bootstrapped company, in the early days there never seemed to be enough money. It appeared as if we were always playing catch-up. I was constantly worried about when, were, and how we would land the next project. My fears, worries, and doubts ruled my decision making process. Here are a few decisions made as a result:
-Not hiring when we needed to hire.
-Not firing when we needed to fire.
-Not expanding into new areas when opportunities presented themselves.
-Not devoting more resources to customer acquisition.
-Accepting any and all projects without regard to the profitability of each.
Hindsight is 20/20. In looking back, it’s obvious to me that my emotions ruled my decision making process.
Now, thanks in large part to Managing Ourselves, I make a valiant effort to not allow my emotions to dictate my decision making. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lays our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – pg 65
You Don’t Have To Do a Darned Thing!
“It was about learning to stop letting social norms and group pressures dominate my life rather than freely choosing to go my own way and do what was right for me. And when I did do what others asked, understanding that they weren’t “making me,” but rather that I was making a free choice to honor their request.” – pg 97
Although on the surface it sounds both obvious and easy, this was a huge revelation for me. Secret #32 in Managing Ourselves is all about coming to terms with the fact that virtually everything in our lives is a choice.
Ari sums it up best, “Sure there’s pressure, even intimidation or anger at times, but the choices I make remain my own.” (pg 98) As a small business owner I can certainly relate to the feeling of pressure to make certain decisions. Like when your best client asks a favor that will require you to work on you and your wife’s 11 year wedding anniversary.
No, saying no to your client isn’t easy. After all, if it weren’t for this particular client, chances are good you may not even be in business anymore. The big shift here is to understand that the decision to help your client is a choice. It’s a choice you are free to make. Sure, there may be negative consequences if you choose not to help…but you still have the choice.
*As a side note, the things we fear, like the negative consequences from turning down the special request from your client, are almost always far worse in our minds than in reality.
Here are a few key takeaways from this chapter:
-You must actively decide to decide.
-You decide whether you’re going to move fast or slow, be in a good mood or a bad mood, smile or be sullen, stop and pick up trash on the street or walk by.
-When we own our decisions, there’s not much room left for us to be the victims of our situation or circumstances.
-There are always reasons why others won’t like what we do.
-Train yourself to stop saying: I have to, I should, I can’t, and I need to.
“Whether we’re mindful about it or not, life does go on apace. Like almost everyone else, I have work to do.” – pg 116
If I’m being honest, I initially skipped this chapter. As an avid reader I try and maximize my reading time by focusing on content that I can immediately leverage in both my business and personal life; mindfulness didn’t really seem to fit the bill. That was until I later came back to this chapter and started reading.
After reading and rereading this chapter, it has become one of the most powerful chapters in the entire book for me. Here’s why mindfulness matters to me, and hopefully to you as well…
How we spend our seconds becomes how we spend our minutes.
How we spend our minutes becomes how we spend our hours.
How we spend our hours becomes how we spend our days.
How we spend our days becomes how we spend our weeks.
How we spend our weeks becomes how we spend our months.
How we spend our months becomes how we spend our years.
How we spend our years becomes how we spend our lives.
You see, it’s what we make of seconds that ultimately determines what we make of our entire lives. Learning to be mindful of each and every moment is a skill neglected by parents, teachers, and ourselves. In this chapter Ari provides 12 ways for us to learn to become more mindful. I’m not going to go through all 12 in this review, but would encourage you to grab a copy and go through them for yourself.
In Part 2 of this review I cover the chapters on Time Management and Making the Most of Our Lives. I don’t recommend that you wait to read my review. Instead, go ahead and grab a copy of Managing Ourselves.
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