“Help, I Can’t Hear You”

As a parent of two young children, and a business owner, I sometimes find myself straining to “hear.”

I know I’m not alone. I’ve heard others say the same thing. It’s not that we don’t have adequate ears. It’s that they are sometimes too adequate.

While I am scurrying about making dinner, tending to a 4-year-old appetite that simply can’t wait, managing work e-mails that trickle in from a different time zone, and thinking about the pesky hallway trim that needs to be repainted, I sometimes can’t hear the small things… like the satisfaction my older daughter received from winning a reading award earlier that day, or my partner’s supportive glance in my direction, or my perpetually happy yet mud-streaked dog on the doorstep.

This reminds me of business development. As we log on to LinkedIn, or Google various keywords in our market, we can easily become overwhelmed at the quantity of competitive information. It may feel like everyone wants to be the expert, and everyone wants to be heard NOW. (Afterall, I do too.) It may be hard to hear ourselves through all this noise.

The issue I want to address is, what do you do with “competition overload?” What if you get so discouraged looking at all the communications options that you just want to go back to bed? What if you can’t hear through all the noise, and the best option seems to be to head for the river, buy a school bus, and hope to catch enough catfish to survive? Somehow the noise of all those fish squirming about sounds better sometimes than the chatter in our heads about what we should be doing right now.

Whether you work for a large corporation, or are managing your own startup, you are bound to experience that drive to compare yourself to everyone else “out there.” And you are bound, at times, to feel overwhelmed, or concerned that you don’t match up, or won’t match up. It will feel like your ears are working too well, and you can’t hear the REAL message.

My question is, are you listening to what really matters? And what, you ask, really matters? Here are my three cents (or bullet points) on how to cut through the clutter and hear the message that will get you moving again:

1)What do YOU do well? It doesn’t matter if Ieizves Lousdes or John Doe on Twitter also does those things well. Ignore the thousand other people today who do what you do. Focus on your strengths only.

2)What can you do today? You might not be able to deliver on your plan today and rake in your billion dollars, but what can you do? Maybe it’s simply writing your plan, or finding someone who can. Maybe it’s boiling a perfect hard boiled egg. Maybe it’s earning five cents at the lemonade stand. Find competency in your actions today.

3)What ONE thing are you going to listen to right now? Don’t try to monitor every conversation on LinkedIn while writing copy for your next speech and worrying about what your competitor might be doing (he MIGHT be taking a nap, you know). Instead, focus on one area at a time, until it’s complete. Listen to one child at a time, cook one dish at a time, write one web page at a time. Research shows that multi-tasking doesn’t work anyway, so why not try to really focus and see what happens?

Now get working…

Image: PANPOTE / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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