What drives your search for answers to improve your business? Is it a deep understanding of who you are and what you do; is it an awareness of your objectives/goals and what you want for yourself and your organization… or is it something else? Whether we call it Internet overload, filter failure or just plain lack of clarity, sometimes we need to step back and examine our MO.
Every business starts with a great idea, fuelled by passion and driven by a desire to succeed. As it grows, the survival instinct supplants new ideas, processes replace passion, and stress (if we’re not careful) blurs objectives. It’s a cycle you see most businesses undergo at some point in their development – often 2–3 years post-startup. Why?
It’s the human condition
We start a business to make life easier, get rich, fulfill dreams. The original creative process draws on all our energies. A new idea needs nurturing. Sometimes it is so new that it requires help to overcome the resistance of others or to educate others to buy into it. But because we believe in it, we do whatever it takes to make it work.
That’s when the web bites!
It’s so convenient, isn’t it? It’s the first thing you’re drawn to every morning. It pervades your life via your desktop and mobile devices. It sucks you in. After all, it’s your life-support system and it has all the answers. Or does it?
Undoubtedly, the Internet does hold a lot of answers, but how we use it and the expectations we have of it are key.
Increasingly, I see that we’re becoming expert at providing and consuming ‘light’ information on the web. As Internet marketing and interconnectivity become more sophisticated, we are bombarded with half-useful information that never quite gets translated into practical improvements in our business. It consumes a lot of time, while seducing us with fascinating infographics, pictures, videos and never-ending threads.
Clearly, a lot of marketing activity is designed to keep you hooked, under the guise of ‘relationship-building’. Why, then, do I increasingly feel a sense of entrapment? I’ve let myself become consumed by a process, and I need to take back control.
Here’s my solution – something for you to try for a week. When you get up in the morning:
- don’t switch your phone on
- don’t go to your computer
- don’t think about researching a topic on the Internet
It’ll be tough, at first, but try to do it without calling your therapist or taking out your frustrations on the cat. Trust me: once you get through the cold-turkey phase, you’ll see some interesting things happening.
Five steps to e-freedom
# 1. You’ll start thinking for yourself
It’s been said that people who rely on Google for all their information are actually losing brain tissue. Think about it (if you can!). It makes sense. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle that applies as much to our physical as our mental health.
# 2. You’ll remember why you have a business
You may think that’s obvious, but Internet ‘dumbing down’ can be insidious. Life changes, markets change, the environment changes. If you’re not regularly ‘refreshing’ your perspective, the initial impetus for your business may have shifted – and left you behind.
# 3. You’ll notice new things
Apart from birdsong and the sweet smell of spring. You’ll also get a fresh take on how you operate and how you use your time. The absence of online ‘static’ will allow in fresh thoughts and better logic, and you won’t be governed by a ‘filter bubble’ restricting and distorting your view through Google algorithms.
# 4. You’ll de-stress and re-connect with yourself and others
While our creative faculties are neutralized by the all-pervasive Internet, we’re also succumbing to ADHD. Our children are growing up in a frenzied state of performance anxiety and disconnection, and billions of dollars are being lost in industry, due to stress-related problems. The online lifestyle feeds this process. Mindfulness, meditation, exercise and real communication are the only antidotes to this, even if we cannot escape the unknown dangers of permanent wi-fi all around us.
# 5. You’ll get your life back
Having real human connections and staying grounded are the best routes to success. When you are present and emotionally connected, you can stay in touch with why you got into business in the first place. Whatever your reasons, you won’t find them online. You’ll find them in you – if you allow yourself that respect and take responsibility for your journey.
These days, I switch myself on before I power up. I figure out what I want to achieve each day before I enter the online world, so that I can use it to my benefit. Like an artist faced with a blank canvas, it can be hard, at first, to decide what marks to make and what picture to create. But it’s so much more satisfying than painting by numbers – both for me and for those who come into contact with me and my work.
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