I've been thinking about the line from Robert Frost that "good fences make good neighbors." I'm convinced that the most over-looked essential for success is the skill of "good boundaries."
High achievers do one thing at a time. They are focused, determined and persistent (a polite word for stubborn). But more than anything else, success requires that we are not distracted, that we don't waste our time and energy chasing non-essentials. Most of us do too much of that and wonder why we don't achieve more in life.
This week I've had several conversations that brought this home to me. One friend laughed out loud when I asked him to set limits on his work and "just say no" to outrageous demands. He argued that he would lose customers, that he prides himself on responding to his clients and that, "I just couldn't do that." As a result, he works long hours doing trivial things that are "urgent" for other people! He's often exhausted and, of course, he is not building his own business.
I was reminded of Michael Gerber's famous dictum to "work on your business rather than in your business." In my friend's case, my fear is that neither his business nor his life will flourish because he spends so much time and energy on his clients' petty interruptions.
Highly successful people build tight fences around their work. They define what they do, decide what you won't do, and then stick to it.
A second essential is to "fence out" new opportunities. Yes, you read that right. We live in a world of endless opportunities. You can go to school, start a new business, go to China for the Olympics, or buy another house while they're on sale this year. Opportunities abound! Television may be our most common distraction, but I'm convinced having too many opportunities may be our most expensive distraction.
The key to success is to do one thing well. And do a lot of it. And sell it at a price that is a "bargain" for your customers and profitable for you. Failures are always chasing the "next big thing." They are experts at "starting over." Successful people are narrow-minded and they persist. They put good fences around "opportunity."
A final boundary is to put boundaries around our friends and loved ones. This is tough! And, obviously, I'm not talking about putting limits on the quality of our relationships. Love and friendship is what life is all about! But, I don't answer my phone every time it rings.
One of the toughest things in life is to be disciplined about how we balance our relationships and our work. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." We all know tragic stories of people who spent their lives working and ended up alone and bitter. Don't do that! In my work, however, I see more instances of people who are so caught up in their friends and family, their community or their hobbies that they fail to focus on their work. That, too, is a failure of boundaries.
We want to be "nice." We value our relationships, and our friends and family are wonderful people. No wonder we want to "put them first." That's a good thing! But so is doing your work, pursuing your passion and building your business. Balance and boundaries are the key.
Robert Frost observed that "good fences make good neighbors" and I would add that good boundaries make us rich, in every sense of the word. Boundaries are essential to build your business, to create and maintain healthy relationships, and to enjoy the life you truly want.
Maintain your boundaries.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Posted by The Wealthy Attitude at 8/24/2011