By Niki Tudge
Edward de Bono, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2005 and is regarded by many as the leading authority in the field of creative thinking, innovation and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill, once said that being a small business owner is the most creative thing you can do. I understand this to mean that running a small business is the most varied and challenging. Just think about all the things we have to manage, coordinate and accomplish to maintain our businesses and this is on top of the actual job we perform – helping owners to train and care for their pets. Sometimes just thinking about it all can be overwhelming.
I am often asked how I manage to accomplish everything I do. I think the answer to this is very simple. I love what I do, helping pets and their owners to live successfully together. I also judge myself to be good at managing my own personal effectiveness which compensates for the other areas of my personality and skill set that may need some fine-tuning and tweaking!
In my earlier years I was fortunate enough to have worked for many large organizations that invested a great deal into my professional and personal development. Coupled with that, I have consciously invested my own energies and resources into myself. I feel that I am a much safer bet and a more financially sound investment choice than many other avenues. As conceited as this may sound, I have never, nor would I ever, abuse my own financial portfolio, hide money from myself or practice deception with my own money. I have always made financial decisions that were in my own best interests. How often can we say that of the many Wall Street financial institutions that we more habitually trust with our life savings?
Investing in our own personal development and effectiveness is a sensible decision and one that will give us a great return on our investment. If you decide to devote resources to your personal development then the first thing you need to do is decide what you want to develop.
Think of yourself as a person with various dimensions that you are in charge of and responsible for managing. Where would your initial time best be focused?
The five dimensions of oneself are the body, the mind, the emotions, the senses and the consciousness.
• Your body carries out your physical functions
• Your mind is responsible for your thinking and reasoning functions.
• Your emotions arise as a consequence of events that affect you.
• Your senses receive information from outside you which your brain processes before action is taken.
• Your consciousness guides you before you turn your thoughts into actions.
Become an effective and successfully functioning business owner requires many leadership and management skills. Skills such as engaging and effective communication, delegation, time management, conflict resolution, project management etc., but first one should start their personal development efforts by looking at their personal dimensions.
Let’s look in more detail at how we manage our emotions, our senses and our consciousness.
1. How well do you manage your emotions?
Do you manage your emotions or do they manage you? Our feelings cause us to act and behave in certain ways; hence it is important to manage them. How sensitive are you and how well do you react to events? Understand that your emotions are your driving force. Make a list of five things you want out of life. You may have written money but you probably wrote success, happiness, lack of stress etc. How do the words you have written down make you feel? These are the feelings you are probably seeking from your life. Why do you have these feelings? Is it due to past events or things you anticipate or yearn to happen? You may be anticipating consequences that will never happen. You may be so entrenched in the forest that you cannot see the trees!
A few tips to helping you manage your emotions are:
• Try to recognize when your judgment is clouded by past events and rise above it.
• Don’t always anticipate trouble.
• Don’t expect everyone to like you.
• Be realistic about what you can achieve.
• If you get angry, stand back and distance yourself. Observe what happened and look at alternative, more productive ways you can respond.
• Convert negative feelings into positive action.
2. Managing Our Senses.
Each and every day we are bombarded with stimuli, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch and movement. How many of these do you acknowledge and how many do you filter? The more perceptive you are the more efficient you will become. The more data you gather the more informed you become as you can stay in touch with reality. As a business owner you need lots of information to be well informed so you can make efficient decisions. Practice being more aware:
• Be very observant.
• Really HEAR what is going on around you.
3. Your Consciousness.
We are all conscious and in fact have different levels of consciousness. You can go through life being proactive (taking action to cause events to occur) or being passive (taking action as a consequence to events you experience). Be conscious of yourself, your capabilities, your emotions and your senses. This alone will enhance your personal effectiveness. Know what you know and understand what you don’t. The four stages of learning is a good model to review and will help us become consciously competent, that stage of personal effectiveness where we are highly competent.
The Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill.
With any new skill we decide to learn there are four stages that we all go through. If we are aware of these stages it helps make the learning process more comfortable.
1. Unconsciously unskilled. We don’t know what we don’t know. We are inept and unaware of it. Ignorance is bliss!
2. Consciously unskilled. We awaken and know what we don’t know. A need appears that engages us to learn a skill and we are now very aware of how incompetent we are.
3. Consciously skilled. Having learned a new skill we are now practicing the skill and we know how to do it correctly but we have to think and work hard to get it right.
4. Unconsciously skilled. If we continue to practice and apply the new skill we will become very competent and the skill becomes very reinforcing.