Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is often credited with saying that you will be exactly the same person in exactly the same place five years from now as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. While this is often quoted to the point of being a truism, there are actually multiple ways to increase your personal value as a business owner and an individual. With social and electronic information available to every business owner, the issue at hand is whether you can take the time from a busy week and integrate learning and growth with your business goals.
Challenges are valuable ways for you to focus your learning and networking and increase what you read (it doesn’t have to be a book) and who you meet (it doesn’t have to be a physical meeting).
There are List Building Challenges, Blogging Challenges, and more that an individual can enter to do self-improvement and practical business activities within a network of peers. If you need to increase your health because of the stress of running a small business, find a challenge and a support community to help you get through the difficult day-to-day commitment to doing health.
Facebook Challenges often provide informative content (daily updates, emails, and personal responses to your questions) while also expanding your network (you meet both the hosts and many of the participants in the challenge).
A Reading Challenge
Charlie Jones was not the only person I have read who talks about the value of reading to grow your business. During a particularly challenging time in life, I was feeling like a failure in business and in life, so I set a challenge to read one book a week for the next 6 years. Now, for some people, this is a little like setting a challenge to earn a million dollars this year or speak in front of a live audience of 10,000 people. Both are unobtainable. I am not most people, and this challenge is one of the few long-term goals I have set and accomplished (I passed the two-year mark with 100 books on my list last week. A little behind, but definitely in the ballpark for completion).
Whether you read a lot or a little, a personal reading challenge (You can use Goodreads or Facebook if you want a social/electronic method to track it) is a great way to improve your knowledge, empathy, and understanding of many, many things.
Learn A Language Challenge
When I was working out of my house, I set a challenge to see how far I could get in Spanish on Duolingo. Although I have let it lapse because of other things, I will probably reset my personal challenge in the near future with a different goal. Before it was to spend 10 minutes a day learning Spanish, my next challenge would be to finish the course in a specific time frame.
Learning a language gives you the ability to target a specific market segment otherwise unavailable to you. It also expands your view of the world as you begin to see through the lenses of different cultures and language groups.
My wife and I have been reading Joy Starts Here with Pastors Dana and Pam of Center City Chapel, in Charlotte. The book has many interpersonal challenges that have grown us as individuals and in our marriage. These challenges include taking time to appreciate and thank each other every day. If you are facing overwhelming negativity and fear in your small business, a challenge with supportive team members (family, employees, church, social club, business partners, etc) could provide a great method to rewire the way your brain thinks and create a positive environment in your home or workplace.
The results in my work and home life have been terrific, and I love using the idea of listing one or two things that we appreciate about each other or are thankful for with my kids every day. It gives me a tool to change the sometimes stressful act of getting a 4 year old and a 2 year old to eat into a blessed act of enjoying each other and food. I also get to thank my wife (an intelligent, creative, and independent woman who blogs at Priscilla Speaks) for the commitment she has made to teaching our children. It’s a win-win-win.
What interpersonal areas do you seek improvement in?
When I go to any business event, sales presentation, or other meeting, I make a goal to meet at least one new person. This is not a goal to make a sales connect or any other specific business-related issue. It is a challenge to meet and network with people, because we are all in this thing called life, together.
When you are around people, what kind of activities or expressions can you do to ensure that you make more personal connections while still growing your network? Maybe commit to email someone within a day after getting a business card? Maybe challenge yourself to attend 4 networking opportunities a month?
My networking challenge for all of you who read this post is to share it on Pinterest, with the nice little infographic in the beginning. Can you help me out by sharing this post to your business/self-improvement board on Pinterest?