I believe that to be a happy entrepreneur (a happy human being, in fact), you need to know (and live by) the "Three C's of Success" -- Creativity, Choice and Contribution.
FREEDOM IS FOUND IN CREATION
Someone asked me the other day what my number one goal in business was. My response was simple -- do whatever I can to get back to creating, not working. To me, the freedom to decide what to create, how to create, for how long to create, and with whom to create with is my ultimate vision of success.
As a lifetime entrepreneur, I have always been intoxicated by the opportunity I have to create something from nothing, and to me, business is just that -- the creation of something out of nothing.
My professional and personal life are explorations in creativity. Every direction I look, there is an opportunity for me to create something new, work with a new client or pursue an entirely new business venture. (For the record, I still have picking the saxophone back up and learning how to speak fluent Spanish on this list.)
So many choices, so little time...
EVEN CHOICE IS A CHOICE, CHOOSE WISELY
Choice, the second "C" is the secret C you want to keep your eye on if you plan on existing as a successful entrepreneur.
There was a time in my professional career where I made more money than I had imagined, but at that time, I was miserable. It always felt like something was missing. After months of struggling with frustration, confusion and overwhelm, I realized that the freedom to make choices was no longer present in my daily, professional routine.
My calendar was owned and run by clients who had all "bought" my time, I didn’t have the choice to take long vacations (which I live for), or work remotely from far away lands. Because so much of my time was consumed by clients, I lacked the choice in who I could work with, what projects or I could focus and, most importantly, how I could truly impact the world. For several months, this felt like a slow, painful death.
The upside was I celebrated the freedom to choose what I would spend my money on without much reservation, but for anyone who has lived a life of abundant consumption, you already know what little fulfillment this type of life can bring.
Have you ever felt like this? I can imagine you have and that you still do, which is likely what led you to reading this blog.
Well, I’m glad you did. #goDo!
The truth about choice, I realized, is that choice can be a driving factor to you success and journey towards living the dream.
Pause, for one of my favorite TR quotes, and there are so many to choose from:
“Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.
-- Tony Robbins
This quote put so many things into perspective for me and allowed me to recalibrate what I wanted success to look like for me. It wasn’t necessarily the money that was driving me, it was the freedom of choice that I was chasing. That, to me, is a hidden rule of “living the dream”.
After I made that distinction, I started to play the game of life differently. I started to ask myself "how" or "if" the decisions I was making would lead to more or less choices. I spent more time calculating if my decision would help me create and choose more when I wanted to, where I wanted to do it and with whom I wanted to, as much as I wanted.
Seems easy, huh? It is much easier than you think.
CONTRIBUTION IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
Since it is the beginning of a new year, I realize that there are two primary emotions shared by most of you. Some of you are excited, ready to take on a new year with new goals, plans and the spreadsheets to prove it. Good on you!
For others, you are still struggling with the confusion, frustration and overwhelm that is baked into the entrepreneurial experience. For some of you, I know you may be dealing with a doubt and even a little depression, so there is no better time to share the third "Secret C" of successful entrepreneurship with you -- Contribution. That's right, and I will say this a million times between now and the end of time, shifting your focus this time of year from you and your business to your clients or your community is a fail-proof strategy.
Try this -- today, or first thing tomorrow morning, ask yourself this question: "What is the one thing I can give to my customers or clients today to help them or make their experience of today even better?" Ask this question and see what comes up for you. Give it some time, and it will be worth it.
I have a mental practice or exercise that I do when I feel that I may be veering off course from my path and just days away from talking myself out of the choices I work so hard to create for myself. I use this exercise to center my focus, but also use it to infuse recognition and gratitude into my practice. It's all yours.
Take a minute to follow the below practice which will help you realize that you may be living more of "the dream" than you are giving yourself credit for.
Take out your journal and spend some time capturing your thoughts around the below questions. This exercise is meant to help you gain clarity around the freedom of choice you already have. You may find that this exercise reveals some areas of your life where you can dedicate more time to creating more freedom. Take your time with the answers and remember to be honest and thoughtful. A practice in awareness always leads to a new outcome. Good luck!
What freedom of creativity do you currently have that you may not be celebrating?
What choices do you have around time, money and mobility, that you can celebrate or gain some awareness around today?
How can you contribute to making a difference today?