"Your business is a reflection of you."
This simple lesson that I first learned from my adviser, Alex McClafferty, keeps proving to be true time and time again.
Over the past few months, I found myself rather stressed and ridden by anxiety.
And as a result, that flows onto my team, and eventually onto our customers.
It's an odd thing to learn, but over time, I have come to realize that my mental health and clarity as an entrepreneur is one of the biggest determinants of success... and one of the biggest causes of failure.
In this post, I am going to elaborate on this abstract concept and mindset in more detail.
Your business is a reflection of YOU
When you are stressed, your team becomes stressed.
When you are unfocused, your team feels the pains.
When you are full of fear, your team begins to fear as well.
When you don't give it your 100%, your team won't either.
When you treat others poorly and lie, your team will do the same to you.
When you talk trash on your customers behind their back, your team will as well.
Whatever you bring to the table as a leader, your team will mirror that back to you and in how they operate within your company.
But it is not all negative.
When you are calm and collected, your team will be as well.
When you maintain a strong work life balance, your team will as well.
When you are certain and confident in the future, your team will be as well.
When you are putting 100% into the business, your team will put in 100% as well.
When you are honest and truthful with your team, they will be honest and truthful with you.
When you evolve and grow as an individual, your team members will evolve and grow as well.
Your team becomes a mirror of you in every single way.
You set the bar for what is acceptable and expected.
And your team mirrors that back to you.
It flows from leader > team > customers > business
The way you act as a leader does not just affect your team. They are simply the first point in the chain of impact.
As a leader, how you show up impacts your team.
How your team shows up impacts your customers' experience.
And ultimately your customers' experience is what drives business metrics.
It all trickles down from you as a leader.
How you show up determines everything.
How your mental health can hurt your business
"You are going too fast. You are overworking yourself. You are getting unfocused. And in this fatigued state, you are about to start making bad decisions."
That was a slap to the face I got from my business coach, Alex McClafferty, a few weeks back.
I had been driving so hard through Q1 of 2019, trying to build Content Allies, and failing. Then I built up Lead Cookie Nurture, and at the same time, I was trying to evolve our outbound service as Linkedin made changes to the platform.
I was burning on all cylinders and working 12-14 hour days trying to cram in as much work as possible into gaps I had between hopping across 5 different countries in 3 months...
My personal life was in chaos from travel.
That overflowed into turning my business life into chaos.
That impacted my mental health and I entered a fearful and manic state of trying to push too hard toward growth.
Out of all of this chaos in Q1, I did emerge with an entirely new business line for Lead Cooke Nurture that is already generating $9k in MRR...
BUT, it didn't come without consequences.
I personally became overwhelmed, stressed out, and full of anxiety.
I was in the weeds and had split my focus across so many things, and as a result, I couldn't see the forest from the trees.
My mental state then started to overflow onto the company.
Every week, my team and I rate our "work-life balance" scores on a scale of 1-10 on our company standup meeting.
This past week was one of the lowest rating weeks we had ever had with multiple team members rating a 7 or below.
That was a wakeup call to me.
I've introduced too much chaos into the business.
I've presented too many changes too fast.
And my own mental state of stress and anxiety is flooding onto my team members and preventing me from doing what needs to be done to give them the support that they need.
My own mental state trickled onto my team.
And if I don't catch that soon, that will trickle down to our customers and our business performance.
Your mental health can foster success
On the flip side of that, I have also seen how my own mental health can create massive positive waves throughout the company.
In Q2 and Q3 of 2018, I was insanely focused.
I had clarity and certainty around what I was doing.
I meditated consistently for 15-20 minutes every single day.
I was working significant amounts of self-development.
And I even took a 2-week vacation in there and found that my mind was the most calm it had ever been.
I was in a calm, clear, and orderly state in my mind and that flowed into the business.
We grew predictably.
We had a clear path forward that I was certain in.
And every day I showed up and did the work to drive us toward that path.
As a result, my team's work-life balance scores during that period of time were the highest they had ever been.
Sure, there were some stressful periods, but all-in-all, things were smooth and simple then.
And my mental state, clarity, and singular focus on Lead Cookie made that possible.
So why did that calmness and clarity end?
Well, to explain that you must understand the simple concept of chaos and order.
As an entrepreneur, you must sit between chaos and order
Some of the best lessons you can learn as an entrepreneur don't come from business books, but instead from psychology and philosophy.
Recently, I've been reading and listening to a lot of the works of Jordan B Peterson. (This podcast is a great starting point if you are interested).
One of the concepts that Jordan talks about a lot is this idea of chaos and order.
It's the Yin and Yang.
It is the predictable, and the unpredictable.
If your life has too much chaos in it, you will go mad and eventually crumble under the stress. You can't live in a state of chaos all of the time or you will go absolutely mad.
But on the flip side, if your life has too much order, then you will find yourself bored and unchallenged. This leads to a lack of purpose and happiness.
One of the concepts Jordan talks about is this idea of straddling chaos and order as a way to find happiness, fulfillment, and growth in life.
When you are challenged and living at your edge, you feel excited, happy, and experience growth.
But too much challenge and too much chaos are not sustainable.
And not challenging yourself and just going through the motions is boring and depressing.
So you must find a way to straddle the middle.
How I experienced chaos and order while building my ventures
The early days of Lead Cookie were chaos, chaos, chaos. At the start of any business, that is just how it is because there is so much to learn and figure out.
But then over time, you begin to bring order to that chaos through systems and processes that run your business.
In Q2 & Q3 of 2018, those systems and processes were running without a hitch.
We were steadily growing month after month.
I was sitting in the account strategy role at the time.
This meant that I was still the one onboarding all of our customers and writing the scripts.
But it was predictable.
I woke up every day and knew what needed to be done.
And if I did that, we would steadily grow.
I was in a place of order.
While having order was great,
I felt that start to sink in.
I felt this lack of contentment as I knew I was not being challenged anymore.
So I made the move and hired on a lead account strategist. I then removed myself from one of the roles of the business that took up the majority of my time.
This was the first step back into chaos because it challenged me to grow and hand this role off.
Then I began to look at ways to diversify my risk. I saw some of the fatal flaws of our model being solely built on Linkedin, so I began to work on a second business.
To be honest, this may or may not have actually been a good decision...
Today, I now have Lead Cookie Nurture (soon to be rebranded as its own company) that is doing $9k MRR, but I can't say that distracting my focus from Lead Cookie's core offering was actually a good idea.
As a result, throughout Q4 of 2018 and Q1 of 2019, I entered into chaos... a lot of it.
I was still running and operating Lead Cookie while I tried to build up Content Allies on the side. That ended up failing.
Then I went back to the drawing boards and launched another venture.
And at that same time, I was trying to still keep Lead Cookie growing.
In retrospect, I can't quite say what the actual cost of this split focus was.
But I can only wonder what the status would be today if I had just stayed focused on Lead Cookie.
Regardless, after having two quarters of chaos, I feel the pull of order.
I need to take the chaos I created and focus now on building systems and processes to reduce that chaos into a place of simple and predictable order.
If I were to keep moving forward in the chaos that I am experiencing now, it would be overwhelming.
At some point, you have to slow down and bring your world back into order.
And once you have brought order into your world and your business, then you can take that next step into chaos which leads to continued growth.
Your personal life impacts your business
Early 2018, I also joined a program called Wake Up Warrior. I was first introduced to this by Russ Perry of Design Pickle.
The concept behind Warrior is simple but rocked my world at the time.
Your life is comprised of 4 key areas:
Being (Spirituality / Philosophy / Mindfulness)
Balance (Relationships and Family)
Business (How you make a living)
Their concept is simple.
Most entrepreneurs just focus on business. And think that if they can just succeed more in business, then someday they can focus on the other 3 areas.
Warrior calls that out as bullshit.
Instead, their philosophy is simple.
If your relationship with your spouse and family is in chaos, then your business will be too.
If your mental health and mind are not in a good state, then your business won't be either.
If you treat your body like shit, then you are not going to have the energy and power to show up in business and produce.
And on the flip side, if you suck at business and can't make a living, then your relationship, certainty, and mental health will be impacted by that.
This concept was a revolutionary one for me.
For years, I operated under the mindset that once I get the business to a healthy level, then I will have time to start working out more.
Or if only my wife supported me more, then I would be able to succeed more in business.
That is a vicious trap.
What Warrior pushed me to do was to get holistic with my life.
It pushed me to stop just focusing on work, work, work all of the time and instead get serious about growing all around as an individual.
When I started doing this, my entire life changed for the better.
My health is the best it has ever been. Recently, I did the first pull up of my entire life!
My mindfulness and certainty are the best they have ever been. I have meditated daily for almost 1.5 years now and have much more calm over my mind than before.
My relationships are on fire. I've broken through so many walls with my wife and our relationship has grown to deeper and deeper levels. And recently, my Dad told me "You have become a man".
And as I grew as an individual, so did my business.
Lead Cookie has grown from $20k MRR to over $60k MRR since the start of 2018.
Sure, that growth may have still happened without a holistic focus on my whole life. But what would have been the costs to my health, relationships, and mental state if I had not started to focus on growing all around as a person?
Your business is a reflection of you
This post has been unlike most that I write.
It's not a specific tactic or tool, but instead a mindset that I am trying to convey to you.
"Rookie entrepreneurs chase tactics. Experienced entrepreneurs chase mindset."
Somewhere along the line, I had heard that statement and it has stuck with me.
In the early days of my business career, I thought that I could learn a 3-step process for getting rich.
Now I realize that you will never find that.
Instead, you find the mindsets and the frameworks that help you think differently.
And one that carries true in so many ways is this simple concept-
"Your business is a reflection of you."