As the 2021 Christmas season approaches (quickly), I am writing this short reflection about how it's possible and why it's important to reboot your business by rebooting yourself for 2022.
I've noticed more fatigue among clients this December than I have in any of the 20 years I've spent working with SME owners and managers.
There is no doubt that whether Covid-19 restrictions have helped or harmed your business bottom line, continuing on against a background of uncertainty with supply chain and consumer sentiment and demand, has been sapping the energy of all of us.
And when we're exhausted, emotions and thoughts can fray around the edges.
But the first step towards restoring health and energy is actually acknowledging that things are a little broken or sub-optimal. Only once that has been addressed, will you be ready to truly engage in some strategic planning and goal setting for your business.
If you've read this far, let's just assume that I've stumbled onto something relevant, so I'll cut to the chase.
People are everything, so let's spend a little time with them
I had a rare opportunity to sit with my business partner, Michael Shanahan, at the first day of the Ashes cricket test in Adelaide last week.
I've known Michael a lot longer than 20 years but that day was the first time we'd sat together for eight hours outside of a work environment, and it gave us a chance to talk about many different things.
My reason for mentioning this to you is that I often joke about how different Michael and I are and how that's a good thing for our clients.
But I'd never realised just how different we are.
For example, I love good musicals and despise UFC fighting, whereas Michael is the complete opposite. We discovered deep levels of how we are mirror opposites of each other, right down to my comment about 4pm that day that went like this:
SD: Look at those people in that stand. They've been blasted by the sun all day.
MS: I'd love to be in the sun all day.
According to the Fast Company article, Why It's Better To Work With Someone Who Is Your Polar Opposite, that time together is important when you're working with an "opposite" because the only way to thrive in such relationships is to have the sort of connection and trust that allows you to let go of your ego.
The two founders of Prezi (a presentation software solution), are similarly described as opposites and in the article they outline how they have set time aside every couple of months to keep the profound connections between each other fresh and strong, so that differences can be coped with well in the cut and thrust of business discussions and planning.
"If you want an accelerated track for growth and self-improvement, surrounding yourself with people who have differences is key. It doesn’t mean you have to accept everything the other person says, but it will help you learn if you can do a better job," says Prezi CEO Peter Arvai.
If you have someone you work close with who is similarly different from you, taking some time over summer to reflect on that dynamic and determine to embrace it, could unlock a lot of good outcomes in 2022.
Some books worth reading - I hope
Another thing that can get knocked about a bit during prolonged periods of stress and uncertainty, is self-belief and self-confidence.
As business owners and leaders, we need a strong source for our resilience because many people rely on us for direction and problem-solving and inspiration.
And yet, I am continually surprised by how endemic the curse of Imposter Syndrome is, among the many amazing business people we work with.
To this end, Michael recommended a book that he'd come across entitled, The Imposter Cure, by Dr Jessamy Hibberd, which is now on my reading list this summer.
Another book, that I've started first, I was motivated to read after hearing the author interviewed by Sam Harris on the Making Sense podcast. The book is 4000 Weeks: Time Management For Mortals by Oliver Burkeman, and it apparently takes a liberating view of how to make sense of time, and all the pressure that usually puts us under; the pressure to clear the decks, to achieve those goals, etc.
I'm sharing these two book recommendations with you, so that you can hold me to account in the New Year by asking me what I discovered and how I've implemented changes.
But, finally, one of the core messages I suspect will be hidden in both these books is the encouragement (or even the demand) to take some down time and make it truly "down" or "off" time for its own sake.
Like most of my small business clients, I've never been good at that. Maybe these books will help me achieve that next year.