Who do you listen to and take advice from? Hearing only your own echo can be just as problematic as listening to a crowd. Executives and entrepreneurs have the difficult job of choosing to seek outside ideas and advice while rapidly filtering all the noise that comes their way.
Three years ago when I started my consulting company accelerating growth and innovation, I chose the voice I wanted to listen to. I wanted to learn from the David Beckham of consulting himself, Alan Weiss. He has written over 60 books and consulted with over 500 organizations including Mercedes-Benz, Merck, and New York Times. On a recent visit to his Rhode Island retreat center, I asked him what advice he had for creating ultimate happiness:
This is how Alan has written over 60 books. He writes straight from his head and does not self-edit what appears on the screen. Don't seek perfection when success will do.
2.Keep Reinventing Yourself
In the three years I have worked with Alan, I have seen him constantly invent new ideas and ways people can interact with him--from subscription-based services that give unlimited access to every one of his workshops and recordings to new consulting conventions that attract great speakers like Marshall Goldsmith and Martin Seligman. Alan does this because he gets bored easily. In fact, 75 percent of his revenue comes from ideas that didn't exist two years ago. Can you match that pace of innovation?
3.Focus on What Excites and Energizes You
As Alan runs his multi-million dollar solo consulting practice, he decides what aspects of his work he will continue or throw out based on what excites him. He focuses on events or experiences that will make him think "I can't wait to do this right now."
4.Don't Become the Worst Boss You Ever Had
Alan and I agree that a healthy selfishness is essential for making sure that as an entrepreneur or consultant, you don't become the worst boss you ever had. To keep yourself from falling down the spiral of gloom, you have to give yourself permission to enjoy life by creating businesses and results that are both conducive to your best interests and also help your clients and customers.
5. Create the Michelangelo Effect
When asked how he created the statue of David, Michelangelo said, "I chiseled away everything that didn't look like David." If you can cull the things that don't represent your great passion and what you're great at, you have the artwork of your career. What aspects of your work and life do you need to take the hammer and chisel to?
6.Make Yourself Accessible
It is unusual for such a prolific thought leader to be as accessible as Alan. You can have a conversation with Alan on twitter; he just launched his periscope broadcasts; and he has an online community where he is present seven days a week, answering questions and providing guidance to a community of speakers, consultants, and experts. Compare this to how many executives hide away in their office or behind their computer screen and forget to interact frequently in different ways with employees, investors, and customers; there is really no excuse for that. How can you become better connected and accessible using the many technologies available? Being connected will energize and inspire you and allow you to better understand and support your clients and investors.
7. Find a Remarkably Supportive Partner
Alan married his high school sweetheart, Maria, when they were 22. He often describes her as his greatest mentor. Alan states that the important thing in any relationship is having some congruent objectives in life. They both love the theater and to travel. You also have to have private pursuits that you don't share. That combination of common interests and private interests is important because it allows you to give each other space. Maria has seen Alan's act and often gives him direct feedback. Once he walked out of a speech that was dreadful, and in the parking lot, Maria said to Alan, "There was nothing you could have done. They were a black hole of energy. You couldn't have done anything there." After another speech, Maria said, "What were you thinking?" Those are two different reactions that both had a major impact on Alan's growth.
Working with Alan has created remarkable results for me; I secured a book deal with Wiley, wrote the book in four months, and have a thriving business as a strategic adviser to executives in Fortune 500 companies. I have found my ultimate happiness, and he has helped me along with thousands of other experts around the world rapidly grow my business.
This happiness formula works. Filter the advice and ideas that come your way. Take the good, let go of the bad, and don't neglect to pursue your own happiness.