Several years ago, I followed the common business advice of the day on how to pursue your passion. First, find something you’re truly passionate about. Second, pursue it obsessively. And then third, become wildly successful and wealthy! Easy, right? All you have to do is work longer and harder than anyone else. Be smarter and stronger than everyone. Sacrifice everything to achieve your dream.
And that is what I did. I ended up leaving a very safe, secure, and well-paying job in corporate America to start a business doing something I was truly passionate about and very good at doing. And I promptly started working longer and harder — and producing more mediocre results than I had ever produced before that led nowhere. It was a horrible experience. From the outside, I appeared successful. But in reality, I was successfully miserable.
I’ve seen a lot of other successful entrepreneurs, sales professionals, managers, and “rising stars” in a company struggle with the same kinds of problems. They are killing themselves, working as hard as they possibly can, but they’re not setting themselves up for sustainable success. They’re setting themselves up to be successfully miserable.
So where did I, and so many other hard-working successful professionals, go wrong?
First, I wasn’t good at delegating. Heck, I was so “type-A get-it-done-myself” I didn’t even know how to delegate. I didn’t play well with others. I was afraid to let go. I cut myself off from the world, built a wall of to-do lists, and tried to use brute force to get through all the tasks necessary to run a new business. My biggest strength — my indomitable work ethic — had become a huge, crippling weakness.
So I took that super-strong work ethic and used it differently. I used it to hire and train staff. I worked hard on not letting my ego get in the way of my success by learning to delegate. And in less than 12-months, my new rockstar staff had tripled my revenue.
Second, I was multitasking at a preternatural level and failing spectacularly. Trying to split your energy between two simultaneous tasks or projects is a way to set yourself up to fail. You won’t be fully committed to either task or project, you will make more mistakes, and both tasks will either fail or just limp along with mediocre results.
Once I stopped trying to multitask and started completing each and every task before moving on to the next, I not only got more done, but I also got more done quicker and with less errors.
Third, I was hyper-distracted. I was connected 24/7/365 constantly checking email, social media, taking phone calls, listening to voice mails, always texting clients and colleagues. I remember one time I was trying to close a big sales deal and was sitting in front of my potential new client. As we were having a face-to-face meeting, I also had my laptop open and was glancing at email while simultaneously looking at my smart phone and texting. Do you think I landed the deal? No way. I lost the deal and a lot of potential new revenue as a result of my hyper-distracted state.
Now I love technology just as much as the next hyper-connected person. However, everything in moderation please. The first thing I did that helped me win the losing battle against E-distractions was to turn off each and every “push” notification to my smart phone. I also set up boundaries to check email only at certain times throughout the day. Same with social media.
And, I have a virtual personal assistant and other systems in place to ensure my clients and colleagues get super responsive replies from me. I’ll tell you more about that in a future post.
If these problems speak to you and you find yourself successfully miserable, check out my new bestselling book that teaches you how to escape your “success trap” and achieve a level of success in your life with balance — not burnout: https://michaelveltri.com/the-mushin-way-book