Before you can truly get to clear communication, you need to have clear thinking.
Neither of these “just happens” because you want it to. Generally, neither of these comes complete “right out of the box”. Our society and education system do not directly reward clear thought or effective communication. An excellent education teaches you how to think, not necessarily what to think, or what bits to repeat back when asked on a test. Learning to communicate clearly can’t take place outside an environment where you can, or need, to communicate. Being around others and learning the basics is a start, but the real learning takes place when you have to express an idea or story to someone who doesn’t have the same background or beliefs you do. This makes you shelve your assumptions. Then you have to make sure that the words and phrases you use are understood the way you use them.
This is very, very hard to do.
The Fire Hose
Keeping up with the “fire hose” of the things I’m interested in is enough of a challenge. Add to that the, shall we say, “Dynamic” nature of my business of consulting in digital marketing, and it’s easy to see how specialization takes place. Being a generalist in any area, while of some value, limits your effectiveness with your customers….especially if your customers have wildly divergent businesses.
Granted, there’s a lot I bring to the table for them. As a rule, the business owners and entrepreneurs I work with are totally focused on their business passions and a number ore still working on become viable. They are all aware of the need for marketing, but having constrained resources (the usual 3: time, money, and personnel….many are solo-preneurs…) they try to start by doing it by themselves. A few searches on Google for resources or tips, a Facebook page, maybe a web site, and some even have a customer list they turn into an email list. By and large, they quickly realize that it’s possible to spend a LOT of resources and not seem to make much, if any, headway…
So, a couple more Google searches, maybe try to read a book on it, and, if they are part of a decent local business network, maybe asking a couple of colleagues what they are doing. They try tweaking a few things and wait a week (most of us are pretty impatient…..). Nothing seems to happen, or, maybe they get a “blip” in business….HOORAY!!!!
“So, ummmm…..what exactly did I do that caused that blip? Can I do it again, only better? How can I grow this into something that will drive my business?”
All good questions….
However, what I want to look at in this article is the work you do to “keep up” on your business. I will share with you a few things I do regularly to make sure I can be of the highest value to my existing and future clients.
BOOKS: Ideas Bound
I have long had the habit of reading more than a book at a time…
Since the advent of the Amazon Kindle, however, this has become something that is second nature. I don’t think it odd, and, with the ready access to who-knows-how-many books and samples I carry around, it just “is”! Much lighter, and a bit easier to keep track of where I am in each one….
This has allowed an enhanced creative journey for me. I read several kinds of books, according to my mood and focus…right now I am in the midst of:
…along with a couple of physical books (I have an enormous number of them that I either haven’t read yet, or return to regularly…):
“It’s not just a Job….It’s an Adventure!”
That was a marketing tag line for the U.S. Navy a number of years ago. A frequent comment among my fellow sailors at the time was “Is this the job part or the adventure part?”
The whole of these two concepts came up to me recently in a conversation I had with a mentor of mine. We were going over his long career, and he mentioned that he felt he never really had a JOB. I asked him what he meant, and he shared that his idea of a job was something that you pretty much had to drag yourself to, every day, like it or not. There was not much life in it, and any correlation between it and the conviction that he was doing something good, right, and worthwhile was nonexistent, or, at best, extremely minimal. He felt that all that he had done never went to the level of being a JOB for him.
After about four hours of dialogue and catching up (I hadn’t seen him for over 4 years…), I drove away mulling over this idea.
Did I ever have a JOB, by this definition?
Collaboration is the action-oriented manifestation of dialogue.
I had an online conversation with a colleague during which we each remarked on the current snapshot of busy-ness we have (summer can be notoriously slow, depending on your business…I think the ice cream parlors pick up, but I digress…) and some of the projects we’re working on. Then she offered to “hop on a call” and look at some ways we could collaborate. This caught me by happy surprise, as I’ve never met her face-to-face, since she lives a continent away.
Her suggestion immediately sent my imagination reeling in a kind of high, fuzzy way. By that I mean that I couldn’t think of what such a collaboration might look like immediately, but the chance to take part in it opens up unknown possibilities….which are always exciting! While the possibility may mean work for me that I might not have done otherwise (filling out my “bandwidth” for the week, for sure….) the value of that work would be at the top for me.
Collaboration, as I mentioned earlier, is conversation in action. The shared listening and thoughts, the enlightenment and discovery, the humor and evolution of opinion and points-of-view result in an end-point of sorts that could not have been gotten to any other way.
- Do you do this in your business?
The Priority of Place
I recently wrote
about how the things you actually spend time on uncover your priorities. A colleague of mine noted that what you spend money on does the same thing, which is partially true. There are a number of things you spend money on that are not discretionary, like food (if you are fortunate enough to have the money for food…).
Other interesting indicators of priority are your decisions made in the midst of radical change.
I recently read an article in the Guardian
by a professor at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. I should say ‘former professor’
, as the college just closed after operating since 1889. Rensselaer, IN has a population of just under 6,000 souls and is definitely NOT
a place you might expect a college to be. Ranked as a “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review and U.S News, it nonetheless announced on February 3, 2017 that it will temporarily suspend operations at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. The article’s author, Jon Nichols, rightly interprets that to mean “Students: transfer now; Faculty & employees: you will need a new job soon.”
Mr. Nichols doesn’t want to move.
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Time And Truth
Time is Truth.
What that means is you invest time in the things that you feel are important. Work, play, rest, whatever…..time is a consumable and limited resource. Each of us gets 24 hours a day, and none of us knows EXACTLY how much of it we get in total. It’s limited. It’s also a most unpredictable predictable commodity, because there’s no telling, at any one time, when “life will intervene” and you will lose out on how you planned to use the time.
There’s a lot here about life and values, but let’s focus on business and profession.
Whether you go into an office of some kind or are working in some kind of structure for your work that doesn’t include an office, you likely spend more time in that work than almost anything else you do. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tack on all the “thinking / worrying about work” time to that, and it’s even more all-consuming.