“Tell me about your goals,” I said.
“Well… I want a business beyond my wildest dreams… doesn’t everyone?!” — prospective client.
In their voice, a slight tinge of desperation… an unspoken “I refuse to be happy until I get there…”
I can relate. When I started my business 11 years ago, I was uber-focused on external success. Becoming a millionaire, having a huge following, etc.
In the process of seeking these things, I burned out.
I came to experience that the actions of prioritizing the outside metrics tends to degrade our inner life… stress, grasping, and unfulfillment.
Today, I’ve learned to prioritize the inner life, even in business.
In a sea of marketing gurus clamoring for seven-figure incomes and million-follower fame, I aim to focus differently, on these 3 things:
1. To become more skillful at my craft.
I work consistently to grow my abilities to teach and coach, and to improve my subject-matter expertise of building an authentic business, which include:
The more skillful I get in these areas, the more my clients benefit.
The more they benefit, the more fulfilled I feel… and the more they talk about my work with others, the more inspired I am to further improve my craft.
…a virtuous cycle that helps everyone.
Let’s compare this to my previous set of priorities:
Focusing on money, or audience growth, creates a vicious cycle of always wanting more in the external metrics, always chasing, yet never quite accessing a reliable level of fulfillment in one’s work.
Fixating on external ambitions tends to cause desperation, manipulation, disappointment… and worst of all, a disconnection from the still small voice within oneself.
External flaunting of success (the usual way that most influencers market themselves) can also create envy in others, and hubris within ourselves.
Fact: the more material things you have (or attention you get), the less there is for others. This is a physical law of conservation of energy, not a limiting belief.
Therefore, I try to have enough money, enough attention, rather than always “more”.
On the other hand, there is a truly limitless ambition: a daily (and lifelong) mission to “succeed” with one’s inner qualities. It inspires others and brings benefit to all who are touched by your life.
2. To grow in the inner qualities.
It’s not just about making money or even making an impact. I see work itself as a stage for personal development.
Every moment of the day, whether I am writing a blog post like this, or taking care of administrative duties, or talking with a client, all of it is an opportunity to practice virtues, such as:
If I ever find myself thinking “I just have to get this done!”… I realize I have lost touch with the deeper purpose of that activity.
It’s never just about “getting something done”, even if I am cleaning the toilet. It is an opportunity given by Life to practice mindfulness… being mindful of the inner qualities that can be developed (or eroded) in that moment.
By focusing on the higher purpose of work, I find a deeper fulfillment in anything I do.
3. To improve my balance.
As my business evolves, so does my schedule.
It is always a work in progress, finding balance between work, rest, and hobbies.
In work, I look for the higher purpose.
In rest, I renew myself for further work.
In hobbies, I stretch my creativity in new directions.
Life is always giving us new challenges to balance these spheres. Without working on your balance, these can happen:
They are not as measurable as the KPI’s (key performance indicators) that entrepreneurs usually care about.
In the external and (enviable) ways — income and attention — I am content to be “merely” average. As a business coach, I work to pull up everyone else around me in their outer metrics, helping them attain a sustainable income, while also hoping to inspire them with a yearning to grow in the inner qualities.
May we all match our own priorities with what truly, deeply fulfills us!
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
All content on this website is Creative Commons CC0 license -- No Rights Reserved. Feel free to use or repurpose it however you like!
Here's why :)