Smash through the procrastination wall with focus

Rustic Kitchen Island
Rustic Kitchen Island (Photo credits: West Elm)

The owner of a shoe factory in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands was forced to close down because of cheap imports. He has come to Johannesburg to start a restaurant in one of the suburbs. The restaurant is doing exceptionally well. Some nights he is fully booked and other nights tables flow out onto the pavement. At one stage he also won a contract to supply the kitchen requirements of a local sports club.

This small business owner is always in a rush. He has been working full out to establish his small business and never gets a moment’s rest. With the award of the contract to supply the kitchen of a local sports club he was running between his restaurant and the kitchen of the sports club. He had no time for himself as he is frantically established the other business. Continue reading “Smash through the procrastination wall with focus”

Can I tell you something personal?

The long descent
The long descent (Photo credit: VernsPics)

The other day a subscriber commented that starting a business was simple: you need to come up with a plan and then work that plan. The subscriber said he was frustrated that most people he deals with in his business just don’t get it. They aren’t prepared to put in the hard work and focus.

If you’ve been procrastinating on what to do when developing a new product or service or even new venture, it’s a sign that something is wrong. It may be that you have not done enough research. You may even not believe in your own vision. You also may not have “stretched” your ego far enough so that your plan fits into the mental picture of how you see yourself. Continue reading “Can I tell you something personal?”

How much pain can you take before you act on your cash flow?

English: Fish seller in Kalk Bay, Cape Peninsu...
Fish sellers in Kalk Bay, Cape Peninsula, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One Christmas morning not too long ago I was walking after church with my children in Kalk Bay when I came across an old friend who I had fished with on the wooden commercial fishing boats when I was growing up. He looked in a bad way. One leg of his denim jeans was ripped. He had a gash on his big toe. His face said it all: he had a dreadful night alone on Christmas Eve.

I shook hands with my old fisherman friend and wished him Merry Christmas. We spoke briefly about fishing. There was a promise that someday we’d fish again on one of the commercial boats that go out from Kalk Bay hunting for yellowtail and snoek. Continue reading “How much pain can you take before you act on your cash flow?”

Win your inner creative war

Creating anything of value requires getting started. But many things can get in the way. Who is the real enemy? What prevents us from achieving our best work?

It’s a problem we all face – getting started. Your idea for a business, a website, a sales letter, a charity, an e-book, a song, a poem, a painting lies dormant in your imagination waiting for you to bring it to life.

Someday you’ll get around to it. Or on the weekend … The weekend comes and goes and you’re still don’t have anything to show for it. What’s stopping you? How can you get started? Why can it be so hard to create what you feel in your bones you can do or long to do?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in a book titled “The War of Art” (not to be confused with “The Art of War, the ancient Chinese book on strategy) by Steven Pressfield (Grand Central Publishing, New York).

Facing the real enemy

In the first part of the book Pressfield defines the enemy: Resistance. “Resistance,” he says, “cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled.” It can be felt and its aim is to prevent us from doing our work whether it is to launch an entrepreneurial venture, pursue any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, a diet or health regimen and even an act that takes commitment of the heart such as to get married, have a child or weather a rocky patch in a relationship.”

Resistance, or self-sabotage, is often fuelled by fear (a good indicator as it tells us what to do) but has many forms such as drugs, shopping, TV, gossip and consuming unhealthy foods. Just about anything can keep us from starting our work. Resistance can involve the choice of a mate, choosing someone who has it or is successfully overcoming resistance. “Maybe it’s easier to endow our partner with the power that we in fact possess but are afraid to act upon,” he says.

Putting things off can be fatal

Procrastination, when it becomes a habit, can be fatal to our life’s work, putting of things until we reach our deathbed. But Pressfield says we are never without the power to alter our destiny. “This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Qualities that distinguish the pro

In his chapters on combating resistance, Pressfield covers turning pro which means, among other things, to show up every day, show up no matter what, stay on the job all day, master the techniques of our job and receive praise or blame in the real world. He discusses the qualities of a professional such as acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses, preparing, not showing off and not hesitating to ask for help. It’s tough advice but turning pro requires discipline and self mastery.

Know the territory

An intriguing concept that Pressfield deals with in some length is that of territory and hierarchy. In a hierarchical orientation an individual competes against others, measures her achievement by rank within the hierarchy and acts for others. The artist, or creator, can’t look for others to evaluate her work. The artist or creator needs to operate territorially which means “he must do his work for its own sake”. Working in the territory, gives birth to the artist’s original creation that add to our lives, regardless of the obstacles faced.

Even though some of the advice can be daunting, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s not only for those who wish to get started on bringing whatever is important to them to life but also for those who work on projects for weeks, months or even years to bring their gifts to the world.