Recently, I attended a business planning workshop with a small group of highly successful business owners. There is something about being in a room all day with entrepreneurs that makes you set very lofty goals. The outpouring of creative energy, innovation, problem solving, and commitment to thrive gave way to a jet stream of powerful thinking. It reminded me of the Napoleon Bonaparte quote, “The word ‘impossible’ is not in my dictionary.” For the people in that room, nothing was impossible. During the course of the day we developed all aspects of our business plans, from the inevitable numbers crunching to the mission and goal statements. We identified our “preferred customers” (which, by the way, are all of mine), and we looked at our marketing strategies, human resources, operations, and R&D. We shared war stories, success stories, resources and contact information.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to be in an all day planning session like this, I urge you to give it a try. Here are a few of the success principles I walked away with. Perhaps they’ll resonate with you and your public speaking pursuits too.
- Perseverance: If you look at what sets successful business owners apart from their peers, you find that the actual strategies they develop are much less important than their ability to stick to them. Often, a mediocre strategy that is fully executed will be far more successful than a brilliant strategy loosely fulfilled.
- Focus: Highly successful business owners hone their focus. They understand what is most important and do not let changing priorities, internal or external, pull them off course. They know when and how to say “no” to projects that might diffuse their focus because they understand that their time and energy are precious and limited resources. They know how to cut through the complexities to keep things simple.
- Competence: This is the key to sustaining small business excellence. Competence (also referred to as aptitude, proficiency, and experience) drives the fulfillment of your strategy. You have to be good at what you do or surround yourself with people who are.
- Passion: The most identifiable characteristic of highly successful business owners is a deep sense of passion for what they do. Their passion elevates them to higher levels of success, and it provides the energy and motivation to persist through hardships and challenges. Passion is the quality that’s hard to teach but easy to see in someone who loves what they do.
Your Personal Theme
Our last activity of the day was to identify a personal theme for the year. Mine was simple. I decided to change my title from CEO to CFO—Chief Freedom Officer.
Freedom is my theme for 2011—for me and for my clients. For me, freedom means allowing myself more personal time this year. For my clients, it means freedom from the ineffective speaking skills and behaviors that hold them back…freedom from the pain of speaker anxiety…freedom from the poor reputation that results from giving a second rate speech…freedom from the confusion of not knowing how to prepare.
So here’s my first executive order as Chief Freedom Officer: whether you’re planning a speech or planning your business’s future, devote ample time to the process. Creating and sticking to a well-planned strategy will free you from stress and yield the best results.