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Overwhelmed? Gratitude as a business strategy.

Running your own business can be challenging and life itself can be overwhelming. I’ve said it here before.

Last week I was named in the Top 50 Small Business Leaders of Australia by Inside Small Business magazine. It was an absolute honour and a surprise. Females in Food is less than 6 months old and already being recognised for the problem it is solving – to empower women manufacturers of food & beverage products and associated services to pursue their creative pursuits and look after their financial well being. I was tired of seeing women (40% of single Australian women retire in poverty according to Australian Industry Super) choose either their creativity or their financial well being when really we can have both with some planning and the right support.

What running a business means, however, is long hours, often the remuneration not commensurate with the effort and a lot of juggling the development of tactical solutions with strategic thinking. The latter not a mean feat given the skill set and capacity to do both at the same time is incredibly difficult and not for the fainthearted.

Many people experience busyness, life challenges and the fretting of making the right decision, regardless of what the decision may be. Last week in amongst the recognition from the business and Females in Food community, I was still confronted by the amount I wanted to achieve. Achieve for my consulting and coaching clients, my Females in Food community, for the team that work with me, for my intimate relationship, my home and my family.

Not that different from anyone else.

The truth is, however, it really began to get me down. I was now feeling overwhelmed by my to do list. It seemed never ending and for someone like me who demands so much of myself I wondered where the light was going to get in. It reminded me of that incredibly powerful Leonard Cohen (RIP) song Anthem and the verse that says,

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Cohen was the master of capturing the beauty in the challenges of life. He having experienced financial betrayal by one of his advisors; he rose to meet the challenge by getting back on the road and rebuilding his music business by reconnecting with his fans as he toured the world after a long hiatus.

What I started to think about in my moments of silence was how much I actually have, how much there is to be grateful for.

I could not imagine being anywhere else right now, doing anything differently and with anyone else other than the people I am doing it all with. I had a moment of saying to myself, “Hang on a minute! Look at what you have and be grateful”. Thank goodness I got it in that moment.

Gratitude made me refocus and remember the extraordinary opportunities and work afforded me.

For many of us when we complain we say, “first world problems” and we laugh it off, but I believe it is all relative and no matter what “world” we live in, the challenges we face feel very real to us and we must give them the light they command, but all in moderation. Sweeping problems under the carpet or minimising them because we live in the “first world” doesn’t work either, however, what does work is remembering how fortunate most of us are and what opportunities we have before us.

Being grateful for what we do have, and when times are overwhelming perhaps just remembering to be grateful for the small things afforded to us each day can be helpful, even if it just may be that the sun came up today.

In some of my training I refer to a well known psychologist who works in the field of relationships, Dr. John Gottman, of The Gottman Institute. Dr. Gottman refers to relationships that work well as “masters” and those that don’t as “disasters”. The key difference that I like to refer to is the notion that the “masters” are always recognising what they have whilst the “disasters” tend to focus on what is lacking.

A practice that many find helpful is to write a gratitude list.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or challenged, take a moment and write down a list of all the things you may be grateful for, and as I said, it may just be that the sun came up today. Here’s my list for today;

  • I am living on purpose
  • I have awesome clients
  • I am supporting an inspiring community
  • I witness the profile and confidence of women I work with grow, and I get so much more than I give
  • I have an amazing support crew
  • I have a lovely home in a great neighbourhood
  • I had a refreshing swim at one of my favourite Sydney harbourside beaches yesterday.

 

Chelsea Ford is presenting at Slade Chats in partnership with Females in Food on Thursday 19 October 2017 at 5:30pm. Click here for full event details. 

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Valuable business take-outs from (un)likely sources

Take a good hard look at yourself Australian small businesses leaders. The Prime Minister wants you to innovate but it’s even simpler than that: listen to your customers and your staff – they’ve got plenty of answers to doing better business.

Today I harvested two yields in just four hours.

It’s raining this morning so instead of crossing the road to ‘the usual’ I stay undercover and head into the local Hudson’s for my mid-morning take-away coffee. At the counter I order a small cappuccino and as I’m particularly hungry, I ask for one of the chocberry muffins to go with it.

“For $5.50 you can have our large coffee and muffin offer.” As I’m a small coffee drinker, I decline the offer but the cashier asks for $6.50.

“Ok,” I say patiently, “I’ll have the large coffee deal for a dollar less and then you can pour it into a small cup and the rest down the sink.”

“No worries, everyone says that.”

WTF. Why isn’t someone in the company listening to that poor cashier who does a daily workaround on the nonsense deal some fool in head office dreamt up?

Same day, four hours later, I’m back at my desk after picking up a late lunch. Well not that late. I fly down to get a sandwich at 1.50pm. A boring old cheese, chicken and salad toasted sandwich.

“Toasted? No, you can’t have it toasted, but I can grill it. We’ve turned the toasted sandwich machines off.”

“Why would you do that when it’s still lunchtime and there are still people (AKA customers) ordering lunch?”

The suitably pierced sandwich girl flicks her head to the boss 6 feet away, “That’s what he does.”

So I walk the 6 feet to the cash register and have a chat with The Boss. “Why would you turn the sandwich-maker off when it’s not even 2.00pm?”

“Lunchtime’s just about over for us…”

And there you have it. Lunchtime’s just about over for us.

Another business owner who thinks they’re in business to serve themselves!

What gobsmackingly painful customer service experiences can you share from your your world @work?

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