Feature photo – SAMANTHA FRENCH Check out her work HERE.
It is a hot summer day in August. You are at the local public pool with your kids. It is noon. You are positioned in the middle, treading water. You can hear little ones screaming with fits of giggles, a lifeguard blowing a whistle, and somebody’s music pulsing off to the left. You jag out of the way of a long blue noodle about to bop you in the head. You see dozens of families mingling on their blankets scattered along the sides of the pool. You smell someone grilling burgers and the sharp scent of chlorine.
Want Inspiration? Head To The Bottom Of The Pool.
Suddenly you duck beneath the surface.
You push yourself deeper and deeper through the blue water. The cacophony of the children becomes muffled and their sounds float away. Your eyes are closed. All you can hear is the mesmerizing low hum of the pool filter. You sit cross-legged on the concrete bottom. The cool water and the pressure of the depth mellow you.
If you could sigh, you would. (inhaling water – small problem) But you know one thing. Down here, at the bottom of the pool, away from all the noise, there is a sense of peace. You can feel your brain opening and your shoulders releasing.
This pool, the one in the middle of the summer that I have just described, is your busy day-to-day. It is your office, your place of employment, your home, wherever you do your life work. It is the rush from the time we get out of bed until we fall back in at night. It might not be a noodle about to hit you but it’s a deadline, or a co-worker issue, or volunteer obligations. It might not be kids screaming with fits of giggles, it might be your never ending to-do list, an underperforming employee or partner requiring a lot of your time. All of these things, these meaningful things, are “surface of the pool” noise, sites and smells. They are important to the daily running of your business, be it a blog or a brick and mortar.
But an exclusively “surface of the pool” existence has limitations. Creativity, depth of thought, and vision work cannot happen here. There are too many distractions, too much noise. There are necessary times in our life’s work, therefore, when we have to go to the bottom of the pool.
Bottom of the pool work is simply essential for the growth and development of your business.
Recently I was attending a PALEO conference in Austin, Texas. The final day was an add-on conference about entrepreneurial business development. I took away one very powerful point. For those of us that are business owners, entrepreneurs or just general go-getters there is one thing that staunches our ability to create and develop dreams into a reality more than anything else. It is this concept of “pressure and noise”. If we are in a constant state of being surrounded by PRESSURE (menial deadlines, employee issues, vendor demands and tasky minutia) and NOISE (outside influences, difficult relationships, disorganization, unfocused priorities) then our ability to contribute takes a nosedive.
So what form should these “bottom of the pool” experiences take? It depends on the person. My first bottom of the pool was four hours in a coffee shop six miles from work. My most recent was five days in Arizona with no unnecessary contact to the outside world. You can create any experience you want from an afternoon at the library two towns over to a week at a spa in Mexico.
But you can’t go until you know why you are going.
Knowing why you are doing these is as important as the actual execution. But, I promise you, once you take this mini life-sabbatical you won’t have to talk yourself into them ever again. The work you get done during this time is so essential you will deeply anticipate the next one. But here are some of the key questions to pose in order to get you started.
- Do I need clarity around the purpose of my life work?
- Do I need to revisit the short term and long term goals I set out for myself?
- Do I need to get the noise out of my head so I can remember why I set out on this particular path in the first place?
- Do I need to look at the items on the to-do list that would move my business forward if I could only take the time to attend to them?
- Do I need a chance to take a deeper dive into the metrics of my business?
- Do my time management skills need some refreshing?
- Do I need to look at relative priorities from a distance and see what needs to go in order to keep me moving in the direction of my purpose?
- Do I need some distance from co-workers, partners, staff or family so that I can get some rest and allow my brain to breathe?
- Have I been craving inspiration or motivation and have not had a moment to invest in it?
- Has it been more than six months since I last invested in tuning up my most valuable business asset? (Me!)
So now that you have a loose grouping of ideas that will motivate you to schedule a date, “WHAT” specifically will you do during that time?
Some examples of things you can do on “bottom of the pool” days.
- Review statistics from last 3, 6 and 12 months.
- Review goals from last year or the beginning of this year.
- Objectively assess performance year to date. Step out of your business and ask, what is the health of this business right now?
- Write down what you want to see more of in your business.
- Write down what you want to see less of in your business.
- “Stalk” your own social networks. Look objectively at posts, profiles, links and see if your brand is consistent, are you sending the message you intend, are you making an impact?
- What is the marketing plan of your business? Is it working? What needs to be different?
- What are the two big-ticket items you want to accomplish before next session?
- What are the 30-minute or fewer to-do items that you have not attended to that will move the business forward?
- Radical Delegation – Determine what do you need be letting go of and who you need to hire or hand it off to? (Housecleaning? Meal prep? Errands? Social strategy? Copywriting?) so that you can do the things that only you can do.
- A long walk or hike at the beginning of your time can help open up your mind and prepare you for the work.
- A closing walk or meditation can help seal the work you have done.
What should you not do during this time?
- Allow interruptions of any kind
- Allow negativity or discouragement to join you for the day
- Come to the table unprepared
- Fail to have clear outcome goals from the session
- Sit and binge watch Netflix
These retreats need to be a minimum of two times a year. I suggest an annual planning and a mid-year check-in. Getting to the bottom of the pool is the only way to get infinitely clear on your life plan! The “surface of the pool” cacophony becomes much more tolerable if there is an underlying clear plan in place and if you know that another “bottom of the pool” day is only a few months away.
My goal for you this week is to schedule your next “bottom of the pool” day and decide where you are going to hold it. If you need help determining what you should be focusing on for the time allotted, contact me and I will help you put together a specific schedule suited to your needs.
The idea of “Noise and Pressure” comes from Alex Charfen’s work. Check him out HERE.
Feature Photo: Samantha French Artist – Check out her work HERE.