09 Dec 2010

The Business Owner Time Warp

As a business owner, are you always doing the entrepreneurial time warp? You know, repeatedly jumping back and forth between your past and future, seldom operating in the present. Probably so.  As a CPA and professional business coach for over 25 years, I have witnessed up close how small business owners are fascinated with time travel, frequently visiting their PAST and their FUTURE, but neglecting their PRESENT. Are you a tortured time traveler as well?

As a personal growth coach in the early 90’s, it was initially frustrating and challenging for me to get entrepreneurs to focus on the HERE AND NOW. In a blink, owners would jump into their personal time-travel machines and before I knew it, they were off traveling to the past.  They would spend considerable time wallowing in their regrets, both business and personal, revisiting their old mistakes and failures, and/or wishing for the good old days.

Or, when I wasn’t looking, they would move the dial in their time-travel machine and leap into the future.  There, they would spend considerable time and energy worrying about and fearing the future … fretting over things well beyond their control. None of this time travel was productive and it wasted precious time and energy.  As a business coach, I’m not certain why owners did the time warp but I was determined to help them stop and learn to focus on TODAY.

Because of my clients’ sabotaging pattern of “past regrets” and “future worries”, I worked hard on perfecting a business coaching and accountability process that helped business owners learn from their past, properly plan for their future, but spend the vast majority of their time, energy and focus on the HERE AND NOW. The Growth Coach strategic-focusing process was designed to help small business clients glance into the future but to proactively make decisions, create plans, and take actions TODAY.  After all, when you are too busy time traveling, nothing gets accomplished in the here and now.

Most entrepreneurs, when constructively challenged, accept the fact that they should not dwell on the past. They know they should learn lessons from their past, stop beating themselves up, and move on.  Where many entrepreneurs struggle is letting go of the future.  They waste time worrying about tomorrow and matters beyond their control.

Now, please don’t get this executive coach wrong.  I’m not saying don’t look into the future and don’t do proper planning.  Far from that. As an owner or executive, you need to mentally jump forward on occasion in order to create a vision of where you want to go, both professionally and personally.  You need to paint your ideal future.  Once you have such a clear vision, you must reverse engineer a path back to the present so you can create a plan to help you actually reach that desired future.

However, while you should periodically take a glimpse into the future, you cannot stay there.  You cannot impact the future by staying in the future.  You must come back to TODAY to execute on those goals and action plans to make TODAY and TOMORROW unfold the way you want. Remember, it is your actions and decisions you make TODAY that shape your future.  Dwelling in a perpetual state of intentions, worry, planning, analysis, and future-based thinking does very little in shaping your results today.  Again, results come from the actual decisions and actions you make TODAY, not what you intend to do.

Let me ask you a few business coaching questions.

  • Where do you spend the majority of your time?
  • Are you focused on today or yesterday?  Today or tomorrow?
  • Do you stay mentally and emotionally focused on the here and now?  Or, do you tend to replay and regret the past?  Revisit old problems?  Re-live your old mistakes?  Yearn for the good old days?
  • Or, do you spend more time worrying about the future? Entertaining your worst fears?  Or constantly daydreaming or in perpetual planning/analysis mode?
  • If so, why do you avoid being engaged in the present time?

As an entrepreneur, you must learn to live and work in the PRESENT. The only real impact you can have is on the HERE AND NOW … you cannot change the past and you cannot impact the future no matter how much you fret and worry.  The decisions you make today and the actions you take today more than anything else will shape your future.  The PRESENT is a gift you have been given. What will you do with it?  Will you enjoy it and make the most of it?  Or will you squander the gift by focusing on yesterday or tomorrow and neglecting today?

As a business coach, I suggest you learn to slow down on a regular basis, reflect and face reality, decide on big changes you want to make, put some short-term action plans together, and then take daily action. Let someone hold you accountable for taking massive daily action.  In a nutshell, that’s what The Growth Coach, a North American business coaching franchise system, does every 90 days for several thousand small business clients … providing them with a strategic-focusing process and on-going accountability to help them go from where they are to where they truly want to be.

The only way to achieve what you want is to execute on your actions plans. And you can only execute on your action plans TODAY … visiting the past or future does not help you execute TODAY.  Plan for tomorrow but spend the majority of your time executing TODAY.

To help you keep focused on TODAY, keep asking yourself, “What’s most important to me NOW?”  “What decisions do I need to make NOW?”  “What actions do I need to take NOW?”

If you must travel, then travel by plane to some warm and relaxing beach … but please, stop the exhausting time travel.  Time to put your time-travel machine away!  Your business, customers, employees, and family need you to be active and engaged in the PRESENT.

Need some advice on being active and engaged in the PRESENT?  We can help! Talk with a Business Coach or order our FREE e-book, “Becoming a Strategic Business Owner”.

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