Try Going Outside of the Inside

A lesson learned from coloring.

I challenge you to find anyone within a five foot radius of where you are right now (except if you’re alone of course) who has absolutely no problems. Nothing. Family is good. Job is good. Relationship is good. Since we’ve now established that it’s highly unlikely everyone is trouble free, have you ever stopped to think about where they find solutions for their problems? Maybe they are Tony Robbins, Seth Godin and Oprah rolled in to one and can look internally for the answers. Or maybe, like these smart successful people, do they look outside? Maybe it’s time you started from a new starting point. Kind of like my drawing this morning.

I like to draw. I’m not good at it and I tend to re-draw variations of what I think doesn’t suck. Needless to say my repertoire is quite small. I tried a “don’t lift your pencil” drawing exercise this morning and started in the middle of the page. One or two huge swoops later and I’m out of room, ideas and space to create anything else. How did I solve this problem? I started again.

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This time I started on the outside and focused on keep the lines tight. With one minor backtrack (pencil still on paper I might add) I was able to fill the page with a never-ending line that became the solution to my previous line problem. Are Van Gogh, Picasso or Dali likely to suffer from my exploding art sales? Doubtful. But my desire to solve my line issue wasn’t inspired by a burst of desire to embrace the absinthe tippling, abstract / melting clock movement. It was my business.

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As a pretty new entrepreneur, I’m still on the path to finding solutions for a variety of issues for my businesses. My first instinct as a stubbornly self reliant fix it myself freak is to, of course, find the solution myself. The problem with that? I have neither Tony Robbins, Seth Godin or Oprah on my speed dial and haven’t quite masted the bio-integrated USB port that would allow me to download their wisdom. Chances are they haven’t started a coloring book to learn from either. So I go back time and time again to the things I know and end up running through those solutions pretty quickly. It’s time to pick a new starting point.

When I’m looking for solutions for other people’s problems, they are abundant. The people, the problems and solutions. I can fix other people’s stuff through my connections, knowledge or  just talking it through with the person. But for myself? That gets a little trickier. You’d think that someone who owns a business center would find this a snap but what I struggle with is identifying the true issue and asking the appropriate person for help (asking for help at all is another issue altogether as we’ve already discussed).

If, like me, you’ve hit a roadblock that you just can’t seem to break through and need a new starting point, here’s my suggestion:

  1. Sit down with a pen and paper and identify the challenges with your business that you can see. What’s keeping you up at night?
  2. Divide the headings in to things like: operations, finance, marketing and development. Whatever fits your business.
  3. Now add the sections: done / not yet. Why not yet vs. not done? Because not yet gives you that little kick to get it done vs. not done which just makes you sigh negatively. Maybe that’s just me.
  4. Now think about your network for:
    1. helping you ID challenges with your business that you didn’t see during step 1. Trust me. There will be some.
    2. helping move items from the not yet side to the done side of your list.
    3. creating action items for the items still on the not yet list.

Now act on it. The worst part of this exercise is sitting down and actually doing it. Why? Because it forces you to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers and your business, in fact, needs help. Use this exercise as your new starting point so you don’t draw yourself in to a corner again. Re-focus on a plan of action that will grow your business rather than working with the stale version.

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