While consulting for other small businesses, I've found that most people already have the answers to help them overcome the problems they're currently facing, but for whatever reason they ignore those answers or they convince themselves that someone else has a better answer. There are so many different ways to solve problems or move forward, but the best solution is the one that will work for YOU. Fortunately, you probably already know what that is. Unfortunately, you may be spending so much of your time thinking about, and maybe even trying out, the ways that other people do things that you've confused what works best for you with what works best for other people.
For example, I used to look at a lot of blogs and participate in a lot of forums. If I did enough of it, eventually one of these things would happen:
- I'd compare myself and my work to that of others and either feel inferior or superior.
- I'd feel like I had to try what everyone else was trying because it was different and seemed "cool".
- I'd have an idea I thought was original and want to try it, but as soon as I found that someone else had tried it, I wouldn't even attempt it because it no longer felt original.
- I'd spend more time focusing on others and what they were doing rather than focusing on what I needed to do.
So, how do we solve this problem?
The only way for you to get better at what you do is to listen to yourself. Listen to what feels right and good for you. Listen to what you're saying to yourself. Notice when you say, "I can't" or "I don't know how." Either find someone who "can" or spend time investing in yourself so that you can "know" for yourself. Push yourself to try new and different things, but always analyze whether you feel good about what you did, how you did it, and why you did it. If a task you're doing feels painful or too difficult, it's a clear sign you need to find someone else who enjoys it and thinks it's easy (yes, there are people who love doing the things we hate- like accountants!) Just because someone else "seems" to be doing it all on their own, doesn't mean that you have to. You have a unique set of strengths and those are what you need to spend your time focusing on in order to be successful.
You already have the answers, you just need to take yourself seriously. If you aren't sure how to listen to yourself, get a mentor, a coach, or a friend to listen to you and be your mirror by sharing what they hear you saying. Sometimes we dismiss our own thoughts, but they have power and control over us in ways that we often don't realize. When we hear someone repeat these thoughts back to us- we gain a greater awareness of our own truth and a window into our own best solutions.
Anne Ruthmann is a lifestyle & wedding photographer from Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography as an independent small business. She loves helping others find creative and low-cost solutions to business problems. Check out her next workshop or free talk at SmarterBusinessWorkshop.com.