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Obsolete Yourself Daily

As I gaze across hundreds of eyes in crowds of business owners I hear many points of view on where our current “industry” is or is not, or where it will or will not go. Many of these views are negative, but it’s amazing that at every gig where I speak, roughly 20 percent of dealers have grown in double digits in the last year.

Being a curious person, I want to know why and how. So I quiz these companies and have come up with an overview of things that individuals do that make them a success. Right or wrong, fun or hard work, ready or not, it is time to “obsolete” yourself daily.

Take time during the day to sit quietly alone for 20-30 minutes.

The current you that sits here today is an out-dated model by tomorrow. A perfect example of this is how the amount of technical information in the world doubles every two years. This means that a person getting a four-year college technical degree will find that over half of what they learned in their first year will be obsolete by their third year.

This incredible rate of change is reflected in everything about our daily lives. We must move forward constantly. How and why are a given. We must grow our minds and bodies daily. To do this we must humble ourselves, work harder, be more disciplined, more determined, and purpose driven. The first step is to make a list of the actions that you do daily to grow and learn new things, as opposed to the standard process of most business owners of living by their wits and crafts.

Feel the urge to push yourself to out-learn, outlive, and out-think the current you. Below is a process that could put you on the right track. Live with a strict mind and a life based on purpose.

Let’s start with simple things like sleep. Are you getting seven to eight hours a night? I know this is a hard thing to do, as we live busy lives and can barely find enough hours to get the things done that we need to do. However, it’s a must, even though I’ll admit to spending many days depriving myself. Find a ritual that you do every night and get on a schedule. We do it with our children, so do it for yourself— set a bedtime. Don’t lay awake thinking about what you wish you could change in your life. No matter what you do during this time, there isn’t anything you can do at that moment. Instead, clear your mind, do a breathing exercise, and sleep.

It all starts with just getting up and doing one thing at a time. If you look at life as a process of small steps, as opposed to a huge bundle of things that need to be done, you will amaze yourself at what you can accomplish.

I believe that a morning exercise routine is an absolute must. It all starts with the first step. Commit yourself to exercising daily. Write down what you are going to do and do it. A Harvard study over seven years has shown that the number-one thing above all in losing weight is exercise. Most Americans are overweight, and we must get into better shape. Look at your body and ask the question, “If the grocery store went away, could I run, fight, and kill my own food or plow and farm enough to provide for my dependents in my current physical shape?”

Take time during the day to sit quietly alone for 20- 30 minutes. Shut your eyes, aware of all that is going on, but not thinking about any of it. Quiet your mind and breath deeply. Sit and relax. Don’t think or talk to yourself. In your head, stop categorizing what you hear. Just take the sounds in and relax, focusing on the present moment. This is your time to let go and not cling to anything.

What have you learned today? By reading, you embrace new ideas and processes to grow and learn. Most people in America don’t read more than one book a year. You can pound through a book a week, so make time and do it. It is part of the process of your life.

I often hear, “I have a hard time reading.” That will continue to be the case until you develop your mind and make it a consistent effort. It’s just like exercising a muscle.

I suggest that you identify the areas that you want to improve before entering a store to pick out a book.

Billions of people have gone before us, and we can learn from both their mistakes and their victories. What you should read is up to you, but walk into a bookstore or library with eyes of wonder. Pick up 10 books, then when you get home take out a Post-it note and write the date you that you will complete each title and stick it on the book. These books need to taunt you. Place them in the spot where you will most often see them and always have a book with you. You should never have to sit idle except when you do so intentionally.

Walk through the front door of your company like it was the first time ever. Look around and consume what you see. What is the general attitude of the staff? What is the condition of the place? How can it improve? Where are the clients coming from? How many times does the phone ring before it is answered? What does the stockroom look like? What do you have in the line for new jobs? Why? What is your referral process? How do you interact and qualify clients? Where are the most profits generated? What can you improve?

What are the most important procedures in your business? Look at each element of the company, then sit with your staff around a table or in a circle and do a review of each department where everyone contributes input on how you can improve. Allow each individual to speak, and do not interrupt. It will blow you away how much input your team will give you if they feel that you are truly listening to them. It’s a fact that a lack of communication between management and the work force is one of the biggest problems in most businesses.

There are many other areas in which you can focus your attention and improve. The key is to do so every day. Consistent small steps will move you and your company forward. An attitude of growth and development is only effective when it becomes a part of your personal existence. Challenge yourself and those around you to be constantly looking for growth opportunities. These may be chances to develop yourself physically, intellectually, spiritually or in business.

The choice is yours, and it is a very important one. Begin today.

Jeremy Burkhardt is president of Riverside, Californiabased SpeakerCraft.