A Step in the Wrong Direction

You may have noticed that I like to define the steps to be taken in your business as 'forward moving'.  I like to be clear when encouraging people to take a step...any step... to put their business into action because sometimes a wrong step can be made. 

A step in the wrong direction.

These 'wrong' directions can be 'side stepping' or taking steps backwards.  They usually aren't intentional, but to avoid them we have to be aware of the cause of them.  Let's explore a few of these 'wrong' direction steps...

Side Steps:
  • You might be a side stepper if ...you have ever had this conversation with yourself:  "I know I need to get on the phone to call my contacts, but calling people is out of my comfort zone...so I'll just send a mass email.  I'm sure people will appreciate that more and if they want something, they will tell me after they get this email."
    • Relationships are the back bone of a business.  Connecting over the phone is the life blood of a relationship.  
    • Turn side steps into forward movement by creating a script.  Don't start dialing with the idea that  you'll figure out what to say when they answer (all the while hoping they don't answer so you can leave a voice message that says 'call me'!).  Decide what you have to offer this person you are calling and respect their time by getting to the point.  
      • Did they buy something in the past?  Have a 'just checking to be sure all is well with your xxx product' script ready to go.  
      • Did they mention they might like to consider hosting a show for you?  Have a 'let me tell you about the special and exciting benefits of hosting a show this month' script ready to go.,  
      • Have they been purchasing from you for a while / held one or more shows or been a great source of referrals?  Have a 'I wanted to tell you how much I've been thinking about you and how you would be great doing what I do' script ready.   
  • You might be a side stepper if ...you are constantly busy in your office but you have no money in your bank account to prove how busy you have been! 
    • Oh, how easy it is to side step around income producing activity when we tend to the business of organizing our offices, sorting our conference notes, and reading the next of several self help books on your list for this month. 
    • Turn side steps into forward movement by scheduling time blocks in your well organized planner.  Example:
      • Sunday: 1 hour in the office organizing any mess that has accumulated over the last week and making sure my planner has income earning activity blocked out for the rest of the week. 1 hour in the office writing thank you notes to customers, hosts and notes of encouragement to team members (mail on Monday).  1 hour reading my self help book of the month.
      • Monday: 1-2 hours to call anyone you have identified in the last week as potential hosts (they  marked a card noting their interest, they said they can't afford all they want, they said...'hey, I might want to host a show!').  Have script ready *wink* and calendar open with dates to fill.  1 hour reading a self help book or listening to a tape...taking note of any steps you can add to your business activity this week to increase forward movement (and then do them *wink*)
      • Tuesday:  1-2 hours to call all of my customers from 3-4 weeks ago and follow up with a 'how is the product' service call.  Have a script ready for reorders, booking opportunities or sponsoring conversations!  1 hour taking care of any accounting or book keeping work necessary in my business. 
      • Wednesday: Ect.....
You get the idea... block times in your calendar week to week with activity that will move you forward and be dedicated enough to do it!  Block in time for those office organizing tasks, self improvement activities and such too...just make sure they aren't the only things you do! The time limits help you stay on task. 

Backward Steps:
  • You might be taking backward steps if... you started your business with great enthusiasm but most of the items that came in your first shipment are still in the box or sitting on a desk partially opened. 
    • Take some time to identify what pulled you back.  Some common causes of this type of back stepping are:
      • negative input from friends and family.  "you're doing what?"  "you tried xyz before and nothing happened...this is just the same thing" "how much is this one going to cost us?"
        • remedy: QUICK... get on the phone and call the person that sponsored you and ask her/him to put you on the company's fast start track...or give you a goal you can reach in the next 48 hours...or call your closest, most supportive friend and ask them to be your very first party host.  Do this now...not later.  You are in dire need of a reminder of why you wanted to do this in the first place!
      • The word NO.  The first person you called said no, or the last few people you called said no.  Now you are starting to doubt yourself or your business and are stepping backwards into a place where you lose sight of what you love about your company or the successes you have had in the past. 
        • remedy: QUICK... pull up a word document on your computer and type out the word 'NO' 100 times.  At the top of that page write this: "MY GOAL IS TO GET 100 NO'S FROM PEOPLE I CALL AS FAST AS I CAN".  At the bottom of that page, after the 100th NO, write this: 'NOW THAT I HAVE GOTTEN 100 'NOS' I WILL TREAT MYSELF TO (fill in the blank with something like 'a manicure', coffee with a friend, an ice cream sundae...something you can treat yourself with to say 'I did it')  And one more thing to type on that page ~ this very important sentence: WHILE I WAS GETTING THOSE NOS I ALSO GOT THESE YESES and  THIS MUCH BUSINESS: .  Follow that sentence with places to mark the yeses you got, whether it was a sale (how much), a booking (date) or a sponsoring appointment (date). 
          • now start calling and cross off those nos until you hit #100...marking the yes info along the way. 
Sometimes focusing on the negative input in our lives will drive us to retreat into doubt or defeat.  One of my favorite words of encouragment for moving forward in our walk comes from scripture:

Philippians 3: 13b-14 ~ Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Let's Get There One Step at a Time,
Copyright© 2012 Just One Step at a Time

Did you recognize yourself as a side stepper or a back stepper?  Have you overcome wrong steps in the past?  Do you have other causes for wrong steps in your business that you'd like encouragement or help with?  Please share, ask or encourage below by clicking the comment link and leaving us your thoughts.  We'd be so encouraged!!

Putting Boundaries Around Our Steps...Forward Focused Steps!

We've been discussing the warning signs that might indicate a need for boundaries....

The first post in this series addressed the need to know when our yes to one good thing is really a no to the better thing.  Proper boundaries give us the direction we need to say yes to what God has planned for us instead of being distracted by the shiny objects that can distract us from that plan.

The second in our series discussed the need to use expectations to form boundaries that keep us from jumping onto the paths of others, helping them achieve success but abandoning our personal path to success.  

The third boundary discussed was how to ask questions and guide those in our lives towards ownership of their problems and away from dependency on us to 'fix' the problems for them.  

Let's wrap up this series with a deeper understanding of why boundaries are a good thing!  

An initial response to the idea of putting boundaries in place is typically 'limitation'!
'Boundaries limit what I can do or where I can go. 
And anyone with goals and dreams will naturally have a negative reaction to 'limitations'!

Alright then, lets explore that thought.  By definition, limitation means a restriction of range or scope, and one could easily argue that this is exactly what a boundary does, restricts me; and success is all about dreaming  without limitations.  Fair enough.  It's the image of running free in a field, blue skies, green grass and a horizon that goes on forever.  It's my life and the sky is the limit!

I can see myself there now, running with the wind in my hair, arms unbound and raised with excitement.  I run toward all of the flowers growing wild in the field, finding joy in each one I stop to smell.  Day after day, running free, enjoying all that this life has to offer.  Year after year, running towards whatever attracts my attention without restrictions.  Ultimately, running and jumping myself into....exhaustion.

On the other hand...what if I approached this 'skies the limit' perspective with a few boundaries.  Instead of running free to this side of the field and the next, running to smell every flower, following every butterfly that catches my eye, what if I identify the side of the field I desire to see the most and focus on only the flowers and butterflies that lead me in that direction.  I may change the side of the field I want to reach at any point, or reach my original destination and set course for a new one, but I keep focused on the one direction until I am ready to make that change.

If that image doesn't work for you, how about this visual of why boundaries are good.  

I've only bowled a few times in my life, but even so I know that the goal is to get the highest score possible by rolling a ball in one direction and knocking down as many pins in that one roll as possible.  I do NOT get points if my ball goes into another lane and knocks down one or all of the pins.  If I roll a strike in another person's lane, that person gets the points...not me!

Thank goodness for the gutters!   YES....I said thank goodness for the gutters.  They clearly define what lane I'm supposed to be playing in and they keep my ball going forward in my lane and out of everyone else's lanes!  If I roll a gutter ball, I get another chance to try again.

That said, if I want to help someone else get a strike, it's my choice.  When my children were younger we would sometimes play in adjoining lanes...kids playing with kids and us adults playing with adults.  Occasionally one of my youngest children would ask me to help them get a strike, usually when they were being slaughtered by the older children on the score board.  It was fine for me to hop over to their lane to help them, teaching them some technique at the same time, but eventually I needed to give them back the ball so they could enjoy the thrill of success on their own.

And how about bumper bowling!  Oh Ya...that was always my favorite. Not being very good at bowling, I found great joy in having those bumpers in place to keep my ball in my lane so I was sure to knock down a pin or two with every toss.  Those bumpers (boundaries!) were there for a reason, encouraging success and a desire to keep playing the game when I might otherwise be inclined to give up.

Just in case my metaphor isn't 'striking' a chord, let me try it this way:


  • Like gutters, they keep our efforts in our lane of business and out of the lanes of other people's business. 
  • Like gutters, they define the lanes clearly and we can choose to change lanes for a moment to help others get better at the game, but not lose sight of our own lane in the meantime. It's o.k. to help and encourage and teach, but eventually (sooner rather than later) we need to quickly give the ball back so others can roll their own balls with success in their own lane.  
  • Like bumper pads, they protect us from wasted efforts.  All work and action has a result that increases success.  Sometimes the result is learning what does not work, sometimes the result is identifying what we need to learn to do better and sometimes the result is a strike!
So is a boundary a limiting factor?  
You know what...I think it might be.  
Boundaries limit the chaotic activity in my life 
that will result in exhaustion and unmet goals or expectations.  

Sometimes limitation is a good thing.  

Let's Get There One Step at a Time
Copyright© 2012 Just One Step at a Time

What do you think about boundaries?  Do you have some firmly established or are you more inclined to fun free? 

 We'd love to be encouraged, so leave a comment, with or without your name!  

Putting Boundaries Around Our Steps (part 3)...the Fixer

As we discuss the third warning sign that we may need to put some boundaries in place, let's remember that boundaries are not put in place to limit our success but to direct it and make it forward moving / purposeful! 

The first post in this series addressed the need to know when our yes to one good thing is really a no to the better thing.  Proper boundaries give us the direction we need to say yes to what God has planned for us instead of being distracted by the shiny objects that can distract us from that plan.

The second in our series discussed the need to use expectations to form boundaries that keep us from jumping onto the paths of others, helping them achieve success but abandoning our personal path to success.  

Warning sign #3 ~
You might need a boundary if...
you believe you are responsible for the problems / issues of people in your life or that it is your responsibility to resolve the outcomes for their bad choices.  

Ah, the boundary-less life of a fixer!  You might be a 'fixer' if:

  • When others come to you with their problems, you immediately begin giving advice on how to fix them, even if they didn't ask.  
  • You seem to be the 'go to' person for everyone in your life when they have a problem and want it fixed.  
  • You are burned out by all of the issues of running a business and are ready to throw in the towel because it's just to hard and you're not getting ahead.  (for those with families, the words 'running a business' could also be replace with 'being a mother / wife')
Being a 'fixer' isn't limited to our business lives.  As a fixer, we typically see our tendencies to take on the problems of others in every aspect of our lives, including family and friends.  

This inclination comes from a place of good intention.  
We desire to help others.  
We are very capable people and want to make life easier for others 
with a goal to see them be successful.  

Eventually, a fixer comes to a place of total burn out.  

As a 'fixer' myself, I'll share with you some boundaries that I learned to put in place that helped me.  And yes...I found these boundaries only after I crashed and burned after years of living without boundaries!
  • Stop. If you are a fixer, chances are that you have trained those in your life that they can come to you to for 'fixing' so they don't have to do all of the hard work themselves.  The first boundary needed is learning how to stop yourself from doing what comes naturally.  As people come to you, before you offer advice, help or solutions, ask yourself this question:  "Did I cause this problem or is this issue a result of this other person's lack of action or a consequence of a bad choice they made in the past?"  The only answer that warrants you taking action on their behalf is 'yes...I caused this problem.'.  
    • If your answer is anything other than 'my fault'....continue with the following boundary building! 
  • Ask.  Develop a series of questions you can begin asking the person that has come to you that will help guide them to taking ownership of fixing their problem.  Here are some suggestions to get you started:
    • What do you think is the cause of this problem? ~Keep asking this question until they own the problem.  As long as a person sees themselves as a victim in their problem, they will not be able to stop expecting others to fix it for them.  Even a problem that is a result of someone else doing them wrong,. ownership can be achieved by identifying boundaries that are needed to keep this from being repeated in their lives /businesses and then taking personal steps towards starting fresh.  
      • some typical causes you might guide them identify: 
        • a lack of effort 
        • a fear of trying new things
        • an unwillingness to step outside of a comfort zone
        • a need for training
        • a need for action based on training already received
        • a need for a focused goal 
        • a need for boundaries!
        • time management issues
        • and so many others that we can explore another time!
    • Where do you think you might find some answers or ideas to fix this problem? ~ We live in the age of answers.  There is hardly an answer or solution needed that isn't a 'click' away from our computer key board.  If you are building a business that is connected to an established brand (vs a personal start up business), you will most likely find lots of solutions / ideas on their business supporting website.  And don't forget training events, conferences, seminars, self help books...the list is extensive.  It's o.k. for you to nudge them towards the right answer, suggesting some starting places if they seem challenged to know where to start.  It is NOT o.k. to give them a synopsis of what they will find if they were to read it themselves.  A fixer reads it for them and feeds them like a mother bird feeds her chicks.
      • One exception is when you offer a training event.  However, even this requires action on the part of the one needing a 'fix'.  If you plan to do a training event, expect (set the boundary) those that need help to come and get the help and not ask you to bring it to them.  
    • When are you available for to us to reconnect after you check out some of these ideas for solutions so we can brainstorm an action plan together? ~ Practice this one over and over.  As a fixer, we want to make that list for them!  Our goal is to learn how to encourage them to make their own action plan so they can take ownership of putting it into action.  By setting a time to reconnect, you give them a sense of urgency to take action and set a boundary in place for you to not jump paths and start making an action plan for them.  That said...when you reconnect, you will find great satisfaction in brainstorming ideas with them instead of spoon feeding them the ideas.  
With an action plan in place, set times to follow up, evaluate progress and repeat the steps above as needed.    And most of all...celebrate / reward accomplishments as they occur!  Being a cheerleader and celebrator is much more energizing than being a fixer!  

As you begin to put this boundary in place and into action, you will find your roll as a leader or business builder has new energy and those you are letting 'fix themselves' will become stronger and more prepared for personal success.  It's like exercise.  No one gets stronger and healthier watching others run the treadmill for them.  

A visual I have used in the past is of two treadmills.  
Me on one and the one needing something fixed on the other.  
The one in need looks over and says 'I have this problem'
...and then hits the start button on my treadmill and watches me work up a sweat. 
When the problem is solved, they thank me enthusiastically and walk away, 
leaving me an exhausted mess but still in the same place I was when I started.  
Lots of activity but no forward movement! 

And speaking as a wife and mother of 4, my tendencies to 'fix' things haven't been limited to my business life.  As I learned to put this boundary concept into play in my family life, I began to enjoy my rolls of wife and mother much more.  I found great joy in watching my children become stronger and less dependent, and my relationship with my husband become more joyful and less combative.  The questions are different, but the concept is the same.  Stop jumping in to fix it and Ask them what they think needs to be done.  

Next time we'll conclude our series on boundaries with a closer look at WHY boundaries are NOT a limitation to success but a catalyst.  

Let’s Get There One Step at a Time,
Copyright© 2012 Just One Step at a Time

I'd love to hear what you think!  Are you a fixer like me?  Or...are you one that is drawn to fixers?  What thoughts do you have about boundaries in life as well as business?  

We'd love to be encouraged, so leave a comment, with or without your name!  

Do It Scared...Sharing Some Inspiring Courage

I was going to continue with my series on boundaries today, but this morning, as I was doing a little morning reading (I don't get the paper here in East Texas back country roads...so blogs are my morning read!), I read something I just had to share.

EVERYONE needs to read this!  It applies to life dreams as well as business goals.  The words are powerful and inspiring.  Hey...I'm all fired up now and it wasn't the coffee!

THIS LINK is to Michael Hyatt's International Leadership Blog, where Jeff Goins guest posted today.  But be sure to hop over to Jeff's blog after reading the article and check out other things from Jeff...he's one of my favorite writers!

While he primarily writes to encourage writers, 
I think you will find many of his posts speak to all of us 
as we seek to become all we were created to be!  

Let's Get There One Step at a Time,