Have you ever been asked to “take out the garbage”? What feeling did your body or mind immediately do or feel upon hearing that request? For me I have an immediate intake of air in my lungs and a mental voice that says…”aawwhhhhh mannnn” with a feeling of burden…..like it is the last thing I want to do right now. That is the feeling of energy being sucked out of me and although I know I can perform the task I really have to exert effort to do it. You may have a similar feeling or reaction to having to take out the garbage….and if this particular example does not create a “sucking energy” feeling then think of a personal one that does for you. Really try and identify what your immediate reaction to it is – both mentally and physically, the reaction that you do not consciously control….it is just there, it just affects your body and what you think or feel. The more familiar you can make yourself of the uncontrollable “sucking energy feeling” and your reaction to it, the more skilled you can become in the future to identifying other situations that this same feeling happens and changing your circumstances so you don’t have to be in those situations, or be able to identify them and then plan how to not have them reoccur.
Successful entrepreneurs know that when they start a business they often have to be a jack-of-all-trades. This means doing some things that they “suck at” or that “suck energy” from them to do. So they can probably put out that extra energy for a limited time period and the quicker they can get someone else who loves doing that task to do it the better. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who love “taking out the garbage”. Successful entrepreneurs find these people to do the things that are sucking their energy. This is also sometimes associated with intuition and again the successful entrepreneurs usually rely upon their intuition to a higher degree than others – and they know instantly the things they should not do and the things they should.
For me, early in my entrepreneurial career I was a Financial Planner before I cofounded my first securities industry business. I loved the analytics of the financial planning process but when we started our firm I found myself wearing more hats than just the “analytic and financial planning” ones. For the first couple of years this was fine as I was also growing and evolving, but a point came where I had worm most of the hats in our business and enjoyed some more than others. I also was aware that my partners were not as good as I in wearing more than a hat or two – so I bought them all out and took 100% control of the business (from 3% previously). Now I really had to wear all the hats and found that my analytic side allowed me to identify a compensation structure that would be unique in the securities industry – a 100% payout with a flat desk fee. At the same time I also became familiar with a tax structure that we could raise money into the ginseng industry so our investors would only have 20 cents on the dollar invested at risk. I had enough passion to drive the business forward through my sales and marketing ability and soon was able to hire the staff around me to start taking the hats from me that were sucking energy. One of the very first hats to go was my sales and marketing hat as I had come to realize that although I did a good job at it, it really sucked a lot of energy out of me doing it. I recognize now in hindsight that “slight gasp of air” every time I had to go to a sales and marketing pitch was the sucking energy feeling and now when someone asks me to perform a similar role I quickly listen to it and decline or try and come up with an alternative solution. Life is too short to have it sucked out of me!
So that’s one lesson here – learn what “sucks energy” and get someone else to do it. But that is only half of the equation – equally important is to do the things that “give energy”. So the first thing to do is identify something in your life that gives you a great feeling and then looks for other things that give you a similar feeling and try only to do those things. I have always had great satisfaction from physical labour around our house – particularly gardening where I can move dirt, rocks, plants etc. and see a noticeable improvement immediately. When I garden like this and build beauty I am left with a full spiritual fulfillment, a general feeling of accomplishment and a passion to do more of it.
So as an entrepreneur I want to focus on doing those things that can create a similar feeling of fulfillment and that result in giving me energy. What I have learnt over the years is that the things that create this same feeling and which I have become passionate about are in two distinct areas. The first is in deal structuring, or more precisely seeing the corporate structural solutions that others have missed that can allow me to secure a market advantage. This type of work not only feeds my passion but also compliments the introvert side of me that reenergizes when working more on an individual basis. The second area compliments my extroverted side – as I am on the borderline of both introversion and extroversion, I can gain energy in both realms as long as they come into balance on a regular basis. So this 2nd area of passionate energy work as an entrepreneur is in leading teams of individuals or groups in day long planning sessions and getting everyone on the same page by the end of the day. It also takes forethought and planning to do this well, which again feeds into the 1st passion energy above. My intuition is now geared to look for the things that will create energy for me.
The ability in life to quickly identify the things that suck energy and avoid them as much as possible in order to focus on the things that give energy and create passion is something that I have learnt in being a successful entrepreneur. The fact that it not only applies to success in business but can be a complete way of achieving balance in life I think escapes most people – but those that get it are truly successful!!!