“Cheshire Cat,” Alice began, rather carefully.
“Would you tell me, please, which way to go from here?”
“That depends on where you want to go,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where…” said Alice.
“Well then it doesn’t really matter which way you walk,” said the Cat.
“…so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat,
“if you only walk long enough.”
~ From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
I have lost track of the number of times I’ve used that passage from Alice in Wonderland to make a point. At times, I wish I could consult with Lewis Carroll himself to find out if there are more hidden nuggets he could reveal. Instead of having a chat with the long departed author though, I once met his main character.
While attending and speaking at a business-building conference, I met dozens of people looking for ways to grow their business. Most of them had a specific idea of what they needed and asked questions directed at finding out. There were a few in a considerably different place. This set was represented by Alice.
During a social break, all of the attendees and speakers were networking in the lobby of the hotel. Alice approached me and said she really enjoyed my presentation. I thanked her and asked if there was anything from it she could apply to her life or business.
“I don’t know,” she said lazily,
“I’m sure there is.”
“What about the other speakers?” I pressed, “Anything from their sessions you’ll be able to take home?”
“Probably,” she continued, “but I just don’t think I’ve gotten what I needed yet.”
Anticipating where this was going, I became the Cheshire Cat. “What is it you need then?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Alice.
“Then how do you know that you haven’t already gotten it?” I smiled softly.
If you don’t know what you want, how do you go about getting it?
If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
Since Alice didn’t know what she wanted, how many presentations would it take for her to find what she was looking for?
Alice’s situation isn’t uncommon but it is unproductive. We’ve all fallen prey to buying book after book, conference after conference, gimmick after gimmick, looking for the missing piece. The trouble isn’t with the book, conference, or gimmick. The trouble is that we haven’t established the need we want the (conference, book, gimmick, etc.) to provide.
When we accumulate information without any clear objective for its use, we call that, Just In Case learning. We aren’t sure what we need and don’t have a clear vision for where we are headed, so we grab everything within reach just in case we need it.
This habit frustrates countless people. It is responsible for huge purchases and subsequent refunds. The buyer blames the program for not delivering, but the simple fact is they didn’t have any idea why they were buying it. How could the program possibly deliver when an expectation isn’t established?
Instead of blindly hoarding information in hopes of something magical, we are better served to apply a philosophy I learned in manufacturing and applied as a 30-something college student. Just In Time learning.
With a Just In Time philosophy, I establish what I need and seek the solution. With a clear objective in mind, I find the expert, information, service, product, conference, or whatever I need to solve my issue. During my bachelors and masters programs, I laid out what I needed to learn from a chapter before ever reading it. I would outline my papers before beginning the research. Every action had a purpose.
How does this help? It’s a matter of having context. If you have a reason for doing something, the actions are more meaningful. If you are doing something without a clear reason, a context, the actions and events won’t stick. The learning is more difficult and the effort is wasted.
I’ve wasted countless hours and dollars doing the same as Alice. My preparation habits have changed and now I optimize my experiences. Now I believe you make your own luck and a lot of it has to do with preparation, focus, and where your heart is.
Don’t send your time and money down the rabbit hole with Alice. Take the time to know what you need and make its attainment your focus. Survey your landscape for the best way to get what you need and when it involves others, make it a point to give first.
You can only take for so long before it catches up with you. When you approach life with a prepared focus and servant’s heart, your needs will rush to you with uncommon speed.
Be your best,
~ PJ McClure
The saying is based around traveling from village to village and contains amazing wisdom. In understanding this wisdom, we can apply the lessons to our personal, business, spiritual, and every other area of life.
How we go faster.
There are times in life when speed is of the essence. Delivering messages and news from village to village was once a job for the fastest runners. To make haste, they couldn’t waste time considering the needs of others. They had to choose the fastest, most direct route and go.
We have those times too. Emergency or one-time projects that fit our expertise are often best accomplished on our own. There isn’t time to bring anyone else up to speed and additional people involved could hinder our ability to get it done in time.
The trap of faster.
Realistically though, these times of solo speed are fewer and farther between than we might think. Especially as an entrepreneur or business owner, we get caught up in an attitude of “get it done now,” without giving enough thought to how far we will eventually go.
“It’s best if I do it myself” or “I’m the only one who can do it” are used way too often and are generally untrue. Each time we elect to go it alone and not involve someone else, we handicap our ability to go farther. Our longevity is cut for the sake of speed, but speed by itself won’t get the job done.
Why we go farther together.
Longer journeys require a group or team. As a raging type-A, my first thought is that more people will slow me down and make the way cumbersome. It’s a trap. For a trip of any length there are too many tasks to complete and skills needed for me to do it all effectively. By going it alone, I jeopardize everything and risk burning out.
The strength of the group comes from the combination of different perspectives, strengths, and skills. We share a common energy in a group that doesn’t exist on our own and our endurance is much greater. Safety, awareness, and longer-lasting performance are only a few of the benefits we get from forming a group and accepting the help they bring.
This concept applies to every area of life but is most obvious with business owners and entrepreneurs. We need to form a strong group that allows us to go the distance or we risk falling flat on our faces. Here are 3 tips to embracing groups and accepting help.
3 Tips for Embracing Groups and Accepting Help:
1) Get over yourself. One of the biggest pitfalls we negotiate as business owners is the idea that we are the only ones that can do what we do on a daily basis and that teaching someone else will slow us down. The truth is; there are countless things we do that someone else could do better, allowing us to focus on our brilliance. Your cause is much bigger than you. Slowing down for a moment to increase your longevity has a bigger payoff than grinding yourself to a nub trying to do it all.
2) Form a group that pushes you. Another common practice is to form groups of people that we view as lesser skilled than we are. As unfortunate as that sounds, the idea comes from a root of fear that people better than we are will somehow threaten us. To really grow our businesses, we have to grow ourselves. Find people who are as good at what they do, as you are at what you do. Create a culture of skill, growth, and mutual respect and watch your results soar!
3) Accept that the group will change. If your business is growing, things will change. Not necessarily because of personality conflicts or someone not pulling their weight, but because not everyone will move in the same direction forever. As you grow as the business owner, you’ll find your needs changing and some of the people in your group will not fit the need any more. It is also possible that your company may cease to meet the need of a group member. Focus on where you go from that point and don’t waste unnecessary energy forcing a group together when a slight change may be all that’s needed.
Going it alone may seem daring and bold, but it frequently is the worst thing we can do. Throughout my coaching and consulting career I’ve led newbie entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners to the benefits of groups. Some were peer groups where ideas, accountability, and encouragement flowed. You realize that you’re not alone and the big picture comes into focus.
Others involved building or rebuilding the support group around them. Some of the most satisfying work you can ever do is adding productive hours to your business without adding any hours to your personal schedule. This kind of breakthrough comes with mindset work and strategic focus.
Regardless of the kind of team you need, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are best to go alone. Embrace the benefit of a well constructed team and make sure you can go the distance.
~ PJ McClure
PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners stop making excuses for their lives and start living them. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset .
Over the past several weeks I have been involved in various workshops, have had conversations with mentors and guides, and have heard other people share with me their struggles- all around saying “no”… around putting the Self first. I am not sure why it is but human beings, especially caregivers, tend to do for others but not for themselves. So while I am a registered nurse and share from my own experiences as such, these words can really apply to anyone in a caregiver role- a parent, an adult taking care of elderly parents, a friend, a teacher, a sibling, etc. There are so many instances where human beings are constantly putting others first and as a result of this- putting their own care, their own health, last.
So I know that we, as nurses, continually give so much of ourselves. While being compassionate, nurturing, and caring, which are parts of our professional and personal roles; we shouldn’t let this “giving nature” put our own self-care in jeopardy. We must allow ourselves to rest on the other side of the giving relationship; being open to receive. We have welcome support and help along the way.
Why is this important? Well, what’s the cost to our well-being if we are unable to easily receive? Our health is at risk. If we always give of ourselves we will burn out fast. If we are unable to fill own self-care tank we run on empty.
In my previous role as an inpatient psychiatric nurse, I was so fixated on helping everyone on my unit. I used up all of my energy giving to others that I almost passed out during work! If we are constantly taking care of others, who is taking care of us? If we are rushing all day from one task to another, helping people around us, we won’t have enough time for ourselves.
We might be up late getting projects done for others so our sleep or relaxation time suffers. We could wind up with physical health concerns such as stress headaches, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and even pain. We have to care for our own bodies, minds, and spirits and one way we can do so is through being more receptive to support from other people.
Here are some easy strategies I suggest to get started:
- Shift Your Mindset: In order to be able to receive you have to change the way you think of yourself. We often put loved ones, friends, or work first leaving little room for ourselves. Start to see yourself as number one. If you begin to think of yourself as your first priority you will start to act that way. Our thoughts become our actions. So check in with yourself. Think about where you rank on your priority list. Do you come first? Or do you always put yourself last?
- Practice with Little Things First: Observe this scenario: “Sally, I really like your hair!” “Oh gee, it’s a mess Sue! I was running late and didn’t get to blow dry it today!!” Sue: “Well, it really looks good today; I like it that way.” Sally: “Well, you must need glasses!” Are you like Sally in this vignette; finding it hard to take compliments? This is where you can start with a major change. Accept the compliments people offer. Just say “Thank you” and feel good about yourself. Start by receiving the nice things people say. Believe me, once you start with something small, like taking a compliment that is offered, you will be more readily able to accept a helping hand when it is extended.
- Check Your Pride at The Door: We are not superwomen or supermen! We are not on this planet alone. No one told us we must do it all by ourselves. If this was the case, why are there over 6.8 Billion people on this earth? We are all individual beings with unique qualities. We are all here to help each other. Yes, you can help others. Yes, it is great to be a giving and caring person. But this is not to be done at the expense of your own health and well-being. Accept the help offered to you and realize you are not a Cartoon Character Hero like Mighty Duck!
- Practice Being Realistic: Many times when I was working on the inpatient unit I felt that I had to do it all. I could not leave the shift until every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted. Let me share something simple with you: nursing is a 24/7 job. There will always be the next shift. Realize you cannot get it all done EVERY single time. Allow others to help you out and receive the teamwork’s hand. You share your help and giving nature all of the time; why not allow others to share theirs with you?
- Engage In A Healing Practice: You may come across blocks within your own psyche relating to receiving. If you need support there are available resources everywhere. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a Spa day. Attend a sound healing concert. Get a Reiki treatment. Find a way to heal and welcome support from others. Slow down and create space for receptivity.
About the Author:
Liz Scala writes about Health and Wellness monthly for AMSDaily.
You can visit her blog at Living Sublime Wellness to read more on these topics.