How to Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement

By Maria Jensen

Today, most people like the idea about self-improvement. It’s trendy.

But before you can improve yourself, you have to get to know who you are, what you want, and why it’s so crucial to know the answers to those questions.

Once you know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want, then you can go on to work on self-improvement.

This article will take you through the main reasons why you should take the time to get to know yourself, how to get to know yourself, and then finally how to seek self-improvement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
  2. How to Get to Know Yourself
  3. How to Seek Self-Improvement
  4. Final Thoughts

Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
Many people go through life without getting a clear understanding of themselves. There’s a difference between wanting to be someone and then the actions that creates a person. It’s easy to tell people who you are, but can you actually walk the talk?

We have a tendency to brush away our shortcomings and play a certain role that we’ve intentionally or unintentionally created for ourselves. It may work for a while, but it won’t help you achieve anything in the long run.

Yes, you can say you’re a good spouse. People will believe you when they see the picture-perfect image on your office, but if you go home to a different story, it doesn’t really matter.

In the end, the opinion that matters the most are the one we hold about ourselves. A lie will drain you, overwhelm you, and unresolved emotions will resurface.

Maybe you choose a certain path many years ago and now you feel stuck. You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself. The week seems endless and it’s only 7am on a Monday morning.

These are just examples. It doesn’t mean that only unhappy people need to get know themselves and seek self-improvement. Even if your life is truly as great as it looks like, it’s always worth checking in with yourself.

It’s natural to change throughout life, but too many people are afraid of reacting to this change or realize that the path they once choose may not be right anymore.

Change is scary, but it’s even more scary to ignore your emotions and not react to them. For better or worse – change is the only constant. If you get to know yourself now, then you’ll be able to handle change better. Obviously, you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

There’s no time limit for getting to know yourself or window of opportunity. Remember that:

“Self-improvement and success often occur together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the same thing.”

You can be at the top of your game to the outside world, but still feel the need to get to know yourself and seek self-improvement.

It’s never too late to get to know yourself, because once you do, then you’ll be ready for whatever comes next. When you know yourself, a new road won’t seem scary because you already know whether you’re planning on turning left or right.

How to Get to Know Yourself
So, it’s settled. It’s a good idea to know this person that you wake up to every morning and look at while brushing your teeth. The person in the mirror that kind of looks the same, but yet somehow seems different over time. Here comes the million dollar question: where do you start?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick answer (or solution) to this. It isn’t math. There’s no right or wrong. You can’t find a page with all the secret answers and ace the test.

Most people will get a better feeling of who they are over time by simply looking back at their previous actions, reactions and decisions. But you can also choose to take an active part of the progress right now.

Here are some active actions you can take to get to know yourself:

1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
It’s all about you now. Let the outside world exist on its own. It’s not about your neighbour or the guy from high school that posted yet another sunny picture from Dubai. It’s not about them.

Take some time to look at yourself. What have you been doing? How do you react to certain situations? What makes you smile?

And if you keep going back to comparing yourself to a specific person, then ask yourself why you’re so fixated on them. Figure yourself out. You’re worth knowing.

2. Face Your Fears
It might seem obvious, but for some reason you keep avoiding that one thing.

A lot of people let fear stand in their way even though they know deep down they have the ability to face it. It’s easy to say of course, but if you manage to overcome your weakness, it will change you for the better. You will learn from it, and you’ll know a whole lot more about your character.

Not sure how to conquer your fears? This guide can help you:

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

3. Focus on Your Strengths
It’s always a good idea to focus on what you thrive at and nurture it. It will help you become more successful, but you’ll also get a better understanding of yourself as our strengths are a big part of who we are.

Even if you’ve been running towards the wall for a while and your head is really starting to hurt – you’ll always have some strengths in you that you can return to. Go back and focus on them and see where they’ll lead you. Maybe a talent will turn into a career. Maybe a character trait will turn into a new path or relationship.

Now, let’s move on to how to go further and seek self-improvement.

Ryan Holiday said:

”You can’t learn if you think you already know. You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions. You cannot get better if you’re convinced you are the best.”

How to Seek Self-Improvement
It’s important to leave ego behind and realize that you’ll never move forward, if you don’t accept that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Maybe you’re currently the best at your job, but you should never stop competing against yourself. It’s not about putting endless pressure on yourself. It’s about keeping yourself in movement.

Maybe you did some soul-searching and you realized that you did choose the right path. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve yourself. Or maybe you just realized that you want a completely different life. You quit your job, bought a dog and moved to a new city. Great, but you’re not done yet.

Once you tell yourself you have done what you set out to do, then you’ll run into the same wall that knocked you out in the first place.

Self-improvement is not about putting yourself down. Self-improvement is about lifting yourself up higher. The only way to do that is by accepting that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Even (or maybe especially) if you’re only competing against yourself.

Final Thoughts
Self-improvement can be applied to anything from learning a new skill, learning to deal with your anger, or putting yourself in a new situation that scares you. Some people need to change their scenery completely. Some people just need to attend a meeting every Thursday. Others may need to take up a self-defence class to feel in control again.

Sometimes life is not about gaining or achieving. Sometimes life is simply about losing and letting go.

People are capable of doing (almost) everything that the people they admire are doing. You can’t limit yourself by saying you can’t do a specific thing, because you’re you. It all comes down to mind-set and commitment. Get to know yourself and then set out clear goals.

Aristotle once said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Reference
[1] ^ Mark Manson, The subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, page 3
[2] ^ Ryan Holiday: Ego is the enemy, page 41

This article was first published at Lifehack

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Namibia: My personal reflection on President Lungu’s call to support youth entrepreneurs

By Eng Kumbukilani Phiri

For the past few days I have been restricting myself from commenting on the matter concerning the Presidents call to relevant institutions created to promote youth entrepreneurship to show cause or risk being reshuffled or fired.

Speaking in Kabwe during the Central Province Patriotic Front Conference, President Lungu cautioned against the laissez-faire attitude most institutions mandated to help and support youth entrepreneurs show. The President called for immediate action failure to which he was going to reshuffle or fire some of them.

As a youth entrepreneur, when I listened to the President’s speech, I was filled with joy to the extent that I even shed a tear. For a number of times, I have bemoaned our lack of drive as a country to support local entrepreneurship. Most of the time, we have heard government officials boasting about inviting foreigners to come and invest in Zambia. This has always made me wonder whether Zambians are incapable of being investors in their own country. Most policies have been crafted and designed to attract foreign investors with tax holidays that go for many years, yet, local investors no matter the size of their investment do not enjoy similar incentives. Local investors are made to start paying taxes right from their first day of operations. Similarly, due to this discrimination in policy development that somehow favour foreign investors, even financial institutions in the country tend to be more supportive to foreign investors than to the local ones. I have seen some foreigners come with nothing, pick up a business idea locally, go to financial institutions and get funded, yet many locals have brilliant ideas which are never operationalized and end up going to the grave with the owners. It is just appalling.

Coming back to the Presidents call for support to youth entrepreneurs, I was reluctant to comment on this matter due to my own personal experiences as a local entrepreneur. In 2017, I had the worst experience of my life as a local businessman. To date, I am still shocked and traumatized at what I went through. To make matters worse, its now almost two years since that fateful day when our hope and investment got shattered by our fellow Zambians, but still to date no progress has been made for us to recover anything and probably allow us to invest in any of our many ideas that we have.

Prior to 2017, I had managed to build a very thriving business founding and managing three companies. One was involved in construction and real estate development, the other was involved in import and wholesaling of foreign products, and the last one was formed as a diversification into timber processing and export. The diversification into timber processing and export is what brought all the misery in my business life. Some of you may still remember the lamentations and pleas I made to see to it that at least, those of us who had invested genuinely and were operating within the law were given a fair treatment and if anything supported to build our businesses according to what the government wanted at the time. To cut the long story short, my company Green Lake Zambia Limited applied and was given a concession licence to harvest and process timber in Isoka. This was after meeting all the requirements that also included an Environmental Project Brief and consent from both the Chief and the local council. When the Minister addressed us and told us that no timber was going to leave Zambia unless it was at least processed into four corners, my company obliged and went further to acquire equipment to process the timber. However, after harvesting and processing the timber and just before getting an export permit for our first consignment, government banned the harvest and trade in Mukula and all export of timber unless in finished product form. This all happened when we had already made a huge investment in millions of Kwacha that left our bank account dry. The decision to ban harvesting and trade in Mukula could perhaps be justified given the rampant illegal dealings at the time. However, special consideration should have been put in place to secure investments for legal and genuine licence holding companies. This was never done and companies like ours suffered major losses and continue to suffer to date.

When the ban was effected, there was no prior communication to the concession licence holders as required by law. To our surprise we just saw security wings coming to our processing site and saying there was a ban on harvesting and processing of timber. They even arrested four of my innocent workers despite showing them that we were not operating illegally.

At the time all this was happening, I was abroad on a business trip which I had to abort and flew to Isoka via Mbeya in Tanzania. After four days in cells and after being denied bond, we finally managed to secure bail from the court for our four workers. Thanks to the three brave Isoka residents who came to our help despite being threatened by some local officials there. The case went on for 17 months, but the people who arrested my workers failed to prosecute the case until the magistrate decided to discontinue it. During this whole time, my workers were driving from Lusaka to Isoka every month spending thousands of Kwacha to go and appear in court just for a mention. I tried everything I could to seek answers and help from all the officials I knew. However, nobody seemed to have any answers or means to help.

What makes me cry to date is that, despite eventually understanding that we were victims of circumstances, nobody seemed bothered about our predicament. Worse still, nobody seemed bothered that a fellow Zambian had lost a huge investment that could be used to invest in other areas and create employment for the many unemployed Zambians especially the youths.

During the time when all this was happening, we were treated like common criminals. The security wings refused to look at our documentation and took our timber and dumped it at the DCs office together with timber from illegal operators. Surprisingly, it was not long before ZAFFICO came with Chinese buyers to load some of the timber that was dumped at the DCs office. Very shocking indeed. The remaining timber still rots at the DCs office having gone through many seasons of rains and hot weather eventually losing all the market value and can only be good for firewood at the moment.

When It became very clear to me that there was no one who was going to help me, I started panicking and ended up writing an open letter to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu that appeared as a feature story in the Daily Nation of the 4th of October, 2017 and was widely circulated among many online news platforms. I received calls from both Zambians and foreigners from all over the world. Many Zambians in the diaspora were very concerned about how I was treated, many feared that the same thing would happen to them if they decided to bring their hard-earned money to invest in the county. The truth is that, I came back to Zambia as an investor only that I was not a foreigner as Zambia is my own country.

I called for the Presidents help because I had tried to seek answers and solutions from the government officers, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, Ministers, etc., but none seemed to have any. To me it was clear that only the President being the most powerful man in the country would help me. Unfortunately, maybe due to his busy schedule, the President may not have seen my open letter to him as I never got any feedback from him or those around him. Maybe the people who were supposed to show him the open letter never bothered because it was a Zambian investor crying for help and not a foreigner. For all I know, President Lungu is a very caring leader who would have called me or instructed those mandated to deal with such issues to quickly find a solution for us. He just recently called a young artist who had made a portrait of him and offered to buy her paintings, which clearly shows that he very much cares about the talent and plight of the youths and I can never claim to be an exception. Sadly, to date our issue has remained unresolved and nothing from our investment has been recovered.

Now that the President has spoken and warned those that are not helping youth entrepreneurs like myself, my hope has been ignited that perhaps our issue will now be looked at with the seriousness it deserves.

Many of you may be wondering why we have not gone to court as a company. Firstly, when this thing happened, we had invested all our money in the business and remained with nothing to pay any lawyer. Secondly, four of our workers were still appearing in court. We wanted the case to be resolved first before we could think of anything else. Thirdly, I have so much trust and hope in our President as a father of the nation. I was so sure that after writing that open letter to him, once he got wind of it, a solution was going to be found. This is the more reason I am writing this article with confidence that at least now that he has made a stance, perhaps he will get to read this and help us find a solution. To be honest, we have brilliant ideas that we would like to implement and employee many more Zambians than the over a hundred our company has now.

My principle is that, instead of just being critical of government to provide all of us with employment, I decided to be creative and innovative enough to create employment for myself and other youths to supplement government effort.

Finally, I am still pleading with President Lungu to consider meeting some of us from the youths who have made a choice to venture into entrepreneurship. Your Excellency, any help you will render to the youths now will stand out as your legacy when you finally decide to retire one day.

God bless

Source Lusaka Times

These 5 Skills Are More Important for Entrepreneurs Than Any Fancy Degree

By Bill Green

One of the great fallacies about building a professional career is believing where you went to school dictates how successful you become.

This is one of the most heavily debated topics in the business world: the effective return on investment for attending college and/or pursue an MBA. Now, I’m not saying formal education is a poor investment, by any means. For many people, school is an opportunity to “know what you don’t know,” and that in itself makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Where people make the mistake, however, is in thinking the degree itself is all that’s needed.

They believe that because they attended the classes and passed the tests, then where they went to school will carry them to professional success–and that’s simply not true. As someone who didn’t end up graduating from college, I can tell you firsthand that over decades of building businesses, it’s the working skills I value in my partners and employees over a fancy resume. I would much rather hire the kid who has tried and failed, than the one who passed his or her classes with flying colors, but never attempted to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in the real world.

This is a topic I speak about at length in my book, All In. Again, I’m not saying a formal education or an MBA is a waste of time or money. Just make sure that, in addition to building your resume, you make it a point to acquire the following 5 skills.

These are the things that ultimately make you a professional success story–whether you climb the ladder of a larger organization, or you build your own from the ground up:

1. Honesty (With Yourself)

Lots of people have ideas.

Students, especially, before stepping into the real world, tend to get caught up in their ideas. They love thinking about them, brainstorming them, and sharing them with their friends and family. Unfortunately, ideas without execution don’t go very far. And while there is absolutely value in coming up with great ideas, an idea cannot become “great” until it faces its first customer.

One of the most valuable skills you can acquire early in your professional career is knowing the difference between what sounds great in theory, and what holds real value to a paying customer or a loyal user. And the only way to acquire this skill is to try a lot of different things. The more you create, and the more you try to build yourself, the faster you will learn what people are willing to pay for and what they would rather do without.

You’ll learn how to be honest about whether your idea has real potential or not.

2. Leadership

Entrepreneurship, working within a startup, or being part of a smaller team within a larger corporate environment, all require some capacity of team interaction.

Many entrepreneurs or “intrepreneurs” (those who bring massive value inside larger organizations) tend to forget that the best business ideas in the world require more than just plug-and-chug execution in order to be successful. All execution requires teamwork, and all teamwork requires a lengthy list of soft skills in order to keep people motivated, focused, and loyal. One of those soft skills is the ability to communicate your vision and lead those around you to victory.

The best way I’ve found to acquire the skill of leadership is to put yourself in environments where you either have the opportunity to learn from a talented leader, or to be forced to step up and become a leader yourself. Ideally, you’ll have a number of both of these experiences in your professional career.

3. Discipline

The kind of discipline school encourages is not the same discipline the real world asks of you.

In school, the punishment for not being “disciplined” with your work is quite inconsequential, all things considered. You might fail a test, or get a bad grade for the semester. But when you’re starting a company, or working within someone else’s company and handling paying clients, suddenly the consequences become very real. Your mistakes can be measured in cash.

Taking the idea of discipline a step further, school plans the path out for you. What is much more difficult is determining where you want to head on the path, while simultaneously dealing with unforeseen challenges at the same time. Persisting in the face of uncertainty, pressure, or the potential of failure, requires a level of discipline that cannot be acquired in a semester.

Discipline is something that takes years to master.

The best way to get started, then, is to find as many things in life to become disciplined about. If you can become disciplined with your finances, your daily schedule, your health, etc., then you are creating the habits that will set you up for success.

4. Optimism

This is a skill many don’t consciously acquire.

But the truth is, entrepreneurship and professional advancement is tough work. Every day isn’t great. The wins are far less frequent than the losses. And it can be very easy to fall into a state of mind where your day to day is seen as stressful, overwhelming, and a pain.

Listen, if you want to make it to the summit, remember this: it’s all in your head.

The ability to be optimistic and positive, even in the face of great obstacles, is not to be undervalued. You’re the one who chose to pursue a path of success. You’re the one who wanted to build something great. You’re the one who chose this life, for yourself. So, don’t look for the bad, the ugly, and the stressful. Instead, look for things to be thankful for: like the fact that you even have the opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about in the first place.

Optimism isn’t a weakness. Optimism is the state of mind that will give you endurance for the long road ahead.

5. Resilience

Last but not least, I firmly believe it’s imperative that every young individual find opportunities, any opportunity at all, to build the skill of resilience.

For me, I gained this skill-building my first company, Wilmar, starting as a teenager in a flea market. There I was, selling hand tools off of a fold-up card table prices–I heard the word “No” dozens of times each day. But when I would eventually hear a “Yes,” I learned the importance of resilience and persistence. Had I accepted the first, or second, or twenty-third “No,” I might never have built Wilmar, a company that ended up eventually being acquired by Home Depot.

The reason why I always take fancy resumés with a grain of salt is because a resumé doesn’t always show you how resilient someone is. Sure, I want to know where you went to school, but I also want to know about a time in your life when someone told you, “No, that’s not going to work,” and you pressed on anyway. Regardless of whether you were successful or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you tried, and you became a little more resilient in the process.

This article was first published at Inc

Launching Your Business in 2019? Consider These 5 Tips

By Young Entrepreneur Council

If your New Year’s resolution is to launch a business, then keep reading. More and more people want to ditch their 9-to-5s and take control of their futures by starting their own businesses.

But starting a business isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to start a small business from your spare room or create the next multimillion-dollar global phenomenon — if you’re not prepared, your business won’t succeed. Luckily, though, there are a number of tips you can adopt that will make the likelihood of your success that much greater.

If you’re launching your business in 2019, here are my tips for success.

1. Stop aiming for perfection.

When launching a new business, it’s natural to want everything to go smoothly. But if you want to be triumphant, you must let go of your perfectionist tendencies. While you might think that being a perfectionist will be beneficial to your new endeavor by making you more motivated and pushing you to strive for success, that’s not always the case. In fact, as reported by Harvard Business Review, perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Stop aiming for perfection. When starting a new business, you’re bound to experience bumps in the road. If you expect them to happen, you’ll be better prepared. Mistakes don’t make you a failure — they help you learn and become a more successful entrepreneur when you overcome them.

2. Build a support system.

Building a business is difficult and you can’t do it alone. And I don’t just mean financially. Having a support system in place when you dive into your new business venture will make all the difference. If you think you already have a support system — after all, your parents and your spouse are supportive of your business — that’s great. But you also need to need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

If you don’t have that type of support system yet, build it. Start networking with other local business owners in your area or get online and join some LinkedIn or Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.

Plus, according to Psychology Today, being a part of a group is motivating and increases feelings of warmth. This can be incredibly beneficial to you on the rocky road to starting a business.

3. Think about the long term, not just day to day.

As reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or longer. This statistic can typically be attributed to business owners getting caught up in the day-to-day minutia of the business.

Make sure to take some time each week to think about the long-term health of your business. Think about the goals you’ve set and how you’ll get there. Do you need to invest in marketing or employee development and training, for instance? Planning for the future will help ensure that your business is around for a long time.

4. Grow your skills.

As a business owner, you never stop learning. You may be starting a business because you have a lot of knowledge and experience in a field, but running a successful business requires a wide variety of skills and expertise. So, as a new business owner, you’ll need to be a jack or jill of all trades.

Spend some time growing your expertise in marketing, writing, SEO, bookkeeping, sales, general management, etc., to develop a well-rounded entrepreneurial skill set. There are a number of free resources online that can help you boost your skills. For example, HubSpot offers free courses on SEO, content marketing and more.

5. Start small.

Your biggest dream might be for your business to become a multimillion-dollar enterprise overnight, but that probably won’t be your reality — at least not immediately. Many new business owners try to do too much too soon because they think it’ll bring them success faster, but it won’t. Instead, start small and grow.

Starting small might mean bootstrapping your startup instead of trying to get a bunch of funding right out of the gate. It also might mean releasing one product or service first and getting some traction and experience instead of trying to put out an entire catalog of offerings. Starting small and giving your business time to grow will make things easier to manage.

Over to you.

Now that you’re more prepared for starting your own business, what are you waiting for? 2019 is yours for the taking. With these easy-to-follow tips, you can ensure that this year will be the year your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

This article was first published at Inc

Change the Way You Think About Your Business With These 6 Thought Exercises

By David Finkel

Many entrepreneurs have taken to wearing the same thing day in and day out to reduce decision fatigue and free up their time to focus on more important matters. Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs all believed in minimalist wardrobes. And while I agree the concept is a sound one, I want to challenge the idea a bit and encourage you as a business owner to mix things up, even if it’s only metaphorically.

Here at Maui Mastermind, we often teach our mastermind groups about the power of the six hats, and I want to share the concept with you today.

What Is a Hat?

In this context, a hat is not a physical piece of clothing but a state of mind. It is a tool that can be used to push the boundaries of thinking and help you grow as a group and as leaders. There are six different types of hats:

  • White Hat: The Professor or Thinker Mode. Focus: Exclusively on the objective facts, information and data without any interpretation or “story.”
  • Red Hat: The Emotional/Intuitive Hat. Focus: Exclusively on feelings, emotions, and intuition.
  • Black Hat: Your Bodyguard. Focus: Exclusively on what is wrong or could go wrong.
  • Yellow Hat: The Enthused Champion. Focus: Exclusively on how to make an idea work and looking for what’s good about a specific situation.
  • Green Hat: Your Creative Genius. Focus: Exclusively on new ideas and creating possibilities and new combinations and mixtures.
  • Blue Hat: The Organizing Hat. Focus: Exclusively on the thinking process itself and how we are recording, organizing, harnessing, and putting to work the thinking we are doing.

What Are the Benefits of the Hats?
In our mastermind group, we regularly sit down together as a team and put on a different hat. We will discuss what hat we are going to wear and explain the ground rules before sharing our ideas.

This exercise has many benefits:

  • It lets people play and relax into the fun of the hat in question.
  • It reduces people’s perceived risk in contributing to the group and helps them feel safer playing a role that they put on…it’s not “them,” only a hat they are wearing.
  • It helps people avoid arguments, which is rarely needed in masterminding and almost always detrimental and destructive. Now you can simply note all sides in parallel and move forward in your masterminding. In the rare case in which you need to choose, you lay out the map and eventually let your red hat choose.
  • It simplifies the thinking process. Rather than use all thinking styles all at once in a great big muddle, you can break out the parts and really flesh out the ideas.
  • It helps people switch thinking patterns and avoid thinking ruts.

Three Final Tips to Harness the Power of the Hats
Remember, the hats are about direction, not description…. They are about influencing the way you are behaving and thinking, not a label you put on your thinking in retrospect.

When you use a hat, make sure everyone wears the same hat at the same time (the only exception is if you want to keep a facilitator wearing the blue hat).

The hats are tools. You don’t need them all the time. You use them when you want and put them away when they become too much. Avoid living in any one particular hat.

In upcoming articles, I will dive into the differences between the six hats in greater detail.

This article was first published at Inc

How to Figure Out What’s Holding Your Company Back (And Push Past It)

By Ami Kassar

A significant part of that process should include taking the time to understand what is limiting the growth of your company. And because there are different constraints at various points in time, this is an exercise best done at regular intervals.

Every business has a constraint. It could be analytics, operations, marketing, sales or any one of multiple drivers that are slowing you down. And sometimes in the day to day grind of running our business, we lose sight of working on this restraint. We get stuck in our habits and accept our day to day grind as the norm.

Unless you understand your constraints and develop a strategy to handle them, you will always be a slave to it.

When I started my business, everything was a constraint. And over time we built processes and systems, the challenge became to find quality customers that we could help.

And then I became a popular speaker. I’ve had great success marketing my business by speaking to small CEO groups of 10 to 12 business owners around the country — probably 90 percent of my speaking appearances.

It worked: I’ve been able to develop my business and increase my name recognition around the United States.

But I confess that I got lazy. I accepted it as a norm that I would spend one day in Omaha, the next day in Dallas, and the next day in Los Angeles. I got into a rhythm. The constraint of our company became my complacency.

As I mentioned, things change. While it was okay for me early in my company’s life cycle to slowly build a name, I’m way past that point now. Not that I’m a financial conglomerate or a nationally prominent commentator, but my business is on sound ground, I’ve published a book and have developed at least a little bit of cachet.

Fortunately for me (although I didn’t know it at the time) I had a disagreement with the CEO groups parent company and am no longer speaking before the organization’s groups.

Since then, I’ve realized that I’ve been passing up opportunities to speak to much larger groups, as well as other opportunities to market my company. Not only are these new opportunities, but I’ve been invigorated, too.

A change will do you good.

In college, one of the first things I learned (and one of the few things I still remember) is that most conflicts throughout history are the result of old ideas clashing with new ones – in other words, change. In general, people don’t like change, especially if they’re comfortable with their current situation.

I’m the perfect example. It was comfortable speaking to small groups. In the process, I was passing up more significant opportunities.

Change can be a good thing. People like to talk about the good old days, but were they that good? For example, cars from the 1950s and 1960s are always fondly remembered, but anyone who drove them can attest to their poor handling, terrible gas mileage, frequent rusting and suspect durability.

You certainly don’t want to run your business like it’s still the 1950s or 1960s (or the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 2000s for that matter). That’s why you always need to be looking ahead – and to do that you have to figure out the constraints that keep you from reaching the next level.

Remember that it never hurts to be bold and look to get better. So what is your constraint and what is your plan to address it?

This article was first published at Inc