Cross-Border Business Blog

Posted by Laurence Lord on December 6, 2016

My New Year Resolution - To be good to myself!

As we all know, Christmas can be a time of unlimited patience, generosity, and kindness from those around us, however, if you’re in business you've probably already realised that you don’t always get this - and certainly not all year around.

So don’t rely on others to be good to you, it’s time to step up and be good to yourself!

It’s true when they say ‘you reap what you sow’ – so let me plant a few seeds about being good to yourself. It's nothing to do with self-indulgence. It's about improving performance – your performance and ultimately the performance of others. 

We're probably all a little time poor, so let's focus in on the "why? and how?”

The "why?" is straightforward.  Most of us would like to improve some aspect of business performance. It might be an issue such as:

  • Growing market share or bottom line
  • Resolving a concern or problem that's eating too much time and energy
  • Working more effectively with our team and customers
  • Coming to terms with an issue that you're ignoring but may well be a ticking time-bomb
  • Survival

Turning to the "how?" here in InterTradeIreland we have a range of business services and supports that can help with many facets of the above and other challenges.

In areas where we can't help, there are a myriad of options ranging from the cheap-and-cheerful (web-searches, how-to books, your training and experience) to the costly (management consultants, professional advisors). A lot of business people also work collaboratively with parties who have a vested interest in their success (development agencies and regulatory bodies.) 

 This range of advice and assistance is typically provided by professionals. In the clear majority of cases, you can trust them to respond competently on the issue as you present it. They will caveat their advice and actions of course.

But underpinning all good business performance is good people, good in terms of being motivated, organised, on top of things and this includes you. This brings me onto how you might be good to yourself.

What I’m driving at is how to better deal with the things that can keep you awake at night.  Are there important issues that you feel you're not handling well? Do things sometimes get on top of you? Are you content with your own judgement?

In most cases, it's in dealing with the less technical and "softer" areas that business people might do themselves a favour by holding their own judgements up to the light.  Areas such as, strategic direction, inter-personal relationships and values, conflicting priorities or simply getting your head around what is best for you.  There's no right or wrong - there's just things that work for you and things that don't.

You can buy all the advice you can afford - most of it will be good advice. But if you fail to act on it or if acting on the advice doesn't sit well with you, you've either wasted your money or bought another burden.   

Ultimately, what you do or don't do is your call and the only words of advice I can offer are - to be as content as possible with your own judgement by testing your own thinking.

There are several ways to achieve this. Four spring to mind.

1. Handle the matter oneself. This will work in most cases – especially when the party making the decision has previous experience, recognises the real (as opposed to imagined) urgency and importance of the situation and approaches it in an objective frame of mind.

2. Simply reflect on the issue. Letting our thinking percolate, listing of the pros and cons – and not shooting-from-the-hip on matters that merit clear thinking. The risks of course with this approach are allowing biases and blind-spots to limit the scope of our analysis.

3. The Professional Business Coach. A good coach will have a business or organisational background. They will be non-judgemental and act in complete confidence. They understand that the purpose of engaging with a client is to coach him/her to improve their performance.

 In many cases, the client will have the makings of their own solution to the challenge. The coach doesn't give them the answer - they simply help the client clarify and validate their own thinking. The power of this approach is the client much more readily validates his/her own course of action. This is because that decision is drawn almost entirely from the client’s own thoughts, values and ambitions.

 4. Trusted Friend or Business Mentor. A variation on using a Coach is to explore how a third party who might have struggled with similar issues has approached them. This person might be a trusted friend or a Business Mentor who has achieved some success in a similar field. If the challenges are in managing a project or process or making a judgement call in a market, the Mentor may well have managed similar issues and decisions. Effectively, the Mentor or third party is being asked "drawing on your experience what would you do in my position?"

 

I hope you now realise that by being good to yourself is not selfish or self indulgent, you are indeed being good to others and ultimately to your business. So go on for the New Year make it your resolution to be good to yourself! The coaching and mentoring routes can be surprisingly powerful.


Laurence joined InterTradeIreland in 2001 and leads the Corporate Services Directorate in supporting and promoting the Body’s activities.

He spent twelve years working in Australia and several countries in Southern Africa in senior roles in the financial services, dairy and security sectors. He also spent two years with a humanitarian organisation focussing on refugee resettlement in Zambia. Laurence also worked for several years in financial management and professional development roles in Ireland where he was the course director of a professional accounting programme.

A Chartered Management Accountant and graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Laurence took his MBA at Henley Management College and a Graduate Certificate in Information Technology from Dublin City University.