Our most important business assets are not our list, our products, our sales funnels, or our network. Our most important business assets are the sources behind those assets … the first of which is inspiration.
It’s kind of funny to me how some of the MOST productive things I do for my business seem to have nothing to do with business at all.
I go for walks. I take long showers. I take small TV breaks or play a little pool in my game room to re-set my brain if I start to over-think things. I go for long drives through the desert, mainly between my home in Phoenix and my second home in Flagstaff, but occasionally also to Las Vegas or San Diego.
As entrepreneurs, we have to cultivate the atmosphere and activities during which ideas can flow. For some of us, ideas flow best when we are alone, when we have silence or a little music. And for others, inspiration flows when we are in good company, surrounded by people we can bounce ideas around with, or even just when we’re sitting in a coffee shop with the hum of conversation all around.
Some of us think best when we have our time thoroughly structured, or when we are on a deadline. Some of us think best with a giant white board in front of us. Personally, I adore having whole days without appointments or plans, so that I can flow throughout the day as inspiration moves me. And I like to write in pencil, because I like the way the lead feels soft on paper. Pens? Not inspiring, thank you very much.
Our most abundant projects will always be inspired, rather than strategically planned. Our most effective marketing materials, sales pitches, and automated sequences will always come from inspiration, those sudden lightbulb moments when we have perfect clarity and know exactly what to do.
Inspiration is our most valuable asset. And so, it is our job to figure out under what circumstances inspiration comes to us. Most people think inspiration is accidental, that great ideas show up haphazardly. This is simply not true. Inspiration can be carefully cultivated if we pay close attention!
But inspiration by itself is useless, unless we also set our minds to …
That doesn’t sound nearly as fun, does it? Bear with me for a second, because discipline is probably not what you think it is.
Most people see discipline as the thing that allows us to do what is inherently unpleasant. Discipline is about “buckling down” and “working hard.” Discipline is about pushing ourselves.
I don’t see discipline that way.
If you’re consistently doing what you truly don’t enjoy in your business, you’re doing it wrong.
Of course, we need discipline to overcome the discomfort of doing something NEW when we are in the process of up-leveling our income. But our every day activities within our business should be enjoyable to us! Otherwise, we’ve gone and built ourselves a job, rather than a vehicle for our authentic self-expression.
Discipline is about creating rules for ourselves – rules that are aligned to our most natural way of operating productively, and rules that align to our most sacred values. Discipline is about creating a unique “operating system” within our business, so that we can truly express ourselves, in a way that also generates income.
Where entrepreneurs go wrong is by adopting someone else’s rules for business, instead of their own! Then suddenly, discipline becomes a “should” instead of an authentic expression of who we are. Sometimes we discover that we’ve adopted someone else’s rules unconsciously.
Here are just a few examples of rules I live by in my own business:
- I won’t do anything just for the money. I will do what is truly in my heart to express, and figure out the monetization later.
- I don’t meet friends for lunch. It totally disrupts my day, and I’m generally unproductive afterwards. I meet my friends for happy hour or dinner instead.
- I give myself at least one or two appointment-free days a week so that I can cultivate inspiration.
- If I have an idea for an article, I write the article.
- If I can’t make an exception for everyone – like all students in a program, everyone who has received a specific offer, etc. – then I don’t make an exception for a single individual, either. (This is because I’ve witnessed too many authority figures and spiritual teachers play favorites. I don’t like it.)
- Before I take on any big monthly expenses (like a car or mortgage payment) I have to have at least a year’s evidence that I can truly afford it.
There are MANY more – rules about growing my list, rules about email open rates, rules about when it’s time to hustle, and when it’s time to rest. These are totally arbitrary rules, of course. And that’s the point.
Discipline is about cultivating the rules that express who we are and that truly serve us and our business. Discipline is also what anchors inspiration into the practicalities of our business.
Our rules come from self-knowledge. Our rules express the values we hold dear. And of course, our rules come from our personal experience of what works to create income, and what doesn’t.
When we create our own rules, discipline is easy.
If you are experiencing struggle in your business, ask yourself – are you operating from a strategic plan instead of from inspiration? And are you perhaps operating from someone else’s rules?
To your infinite abundance,