I woke up this morning at 4.
"Too early," I said, trying to will myself back to sleep.
"Get out and exercise, like you did when you were fit and tough," another voice urged.
I closed my eyes.
The darkness enveloped me, then the neighbour’s car door slammed close. 4:30 and I was still awake.
"No. Go to sleep."
"Get up, you’ll regret not exercising!"
"Go to sleep, you’ll be buggered by lunch time."
I fell asleep, a restless, fitful surrender.
And when I woke the regret began.
I was going to write something amazing, instead I wrote this.
I was going to practice my saxophone, instead I fell asleep.
I was going to read a classic novel, instead I watched reality TV.
I was going to. But I didn’t.
Lately, my life has been busy. Crazy busy. So busy that my day starts at a sprint and gets faster. By the end of the week I’m completely spent.
The idea of romance and self-indulgence is just that - an idea. That is until my wife bought me six saxophone lessons.
I’ve owned a sax a few years back. It’s a beautiful Yamaha Alto that’s still shiny and sleek. It truly is a work of art. Right away I started playing. I learned where the notes were and managed to play a few tunes. There’s the odd squark and screech and a missed note here and there but at least the music was recognisable.
But, for what reason I’m not sure, I stopped. And for the last couple of years I haven’t played a single note. Which is a shame because I love my sax and I love playing music.
So yesterday I had my first sax lesson. The teacher asked me to show him what I knew. I did. Right away he got me playing a little blues riff to backing music provided by some software on his computer.
I couldn’t stop smiling. I was seriously head over heels with the feeling of pure joy that comes from creating music that makes you want to tap your feet and drink bourbon.
Seriously, it was very cool.
As I drove away I wondered why I didn’t get lessons earlier. For me, my new music teacher is less of a teacher and more a coach. I have coaches both professionally and personally but I’ve never had a music coach. But now, I have. And I couldn’t be happier.
The breakfast meeting with a client went well enough. So did the drive back to the office and the call to a colleague.
Then all hell broke loose.
Two of three settlements had problems. I turned up to the Duxton to speak to 200 property managers. They were waiting patiently at the Hyatt. I arrived just in time to connect my computer and deliver. I had no wifi, no speaker’s notes, no lapel mike.
But I stood and I delivered.
And now I’m off to bed.
I bought a home unit off the plan in 2007. By the time I settled on the purchase three years later, it was worth $150,000 less than I paid for it. Put simply, it was a bad, bad investment.
The temptation is to persist and to hang onto it until it makes a profit. But that’s stupid investing. The simple question is this: If I was going to buy an investment property today, is this what I’d buy? If the answer is No, the property should be sold because every day that I own it I’m buying it from the person who’d buy it from me.
It’s going on the market in September.
I coached soccer tonight. I didn’t want to but still I turned up and laid out the cones. I turned on the lights and hoped that players would turn up. But in truth that’s not what I wanted. What I wanted was to be at home in front of the heater with a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta.
But the players turned up. First, a couple of boys, then some girls. Soon there was 13, enough for drills and a game. And that’s what we did - drills and a game. They warmed up with passing drills, then moved on to a defensive drill, then onto a positioning game and finally we finished off with a small-sided game.
And what was really cool was that I hardly coached at all. Instead, Jen the coach of the women’s team called the shots and ran the drills. She rolled from one drill to the next quickly and gave clear instruction. And all the while I just stood and watched - and fetched balls. On a couple of occasions I added in mt two-cents worth.
The training session was over in no time. Another one down,
In any business you’ll find bottlenecks and handbrakes. These are the systems and procedures that slow progress and stop forward momentum. Often they exist to allow the business to operate at the speed of the leader.
So, answer this: what handbrakes are you unwittingly applying to your business? The answer to that question can be found by looking for actions that haven’t been taken because your team is waiting for you. When you identify that action, delegate.
The truth is, you probably harbour a secret belief that you’re the only one in your organisation who can perform that task. But you’re wrong. Look close enough and you’ll find that it’s easy enough to teach someone else to write like you do, prospect like you do or talk like you do.
Teach that and you’ve created a system and you’ve leveraged your previously unique capability. Now you’ve gone beyond being an artisan to being a business owner who employs artisans. Do that and you’ll start enjoying business success built on respect and empowerment and that allows you to succeed without feeling like you have to do it all.
So go ahead, delegate the handbrakes and let your business run free.
You tried to rise to the occasion. You showed me you had potential but you just didn’t deliver.
I know how good you can be but you were just disappointing. You were a let down.
But I know you can be better. You have the talent but you need to work harder, to make the effort and fulfill your talent.
And if you can do that you have a future here. So I’m giving you one more chance, a chance to prove yourself, a chance to show that you can turn talent into success.
So get to it and start work. Let go of your thoughts and your concerns. Let go of your plans and let your spirit soar. And if you do that you’ll achieve what you came here for.
When your team is winning keeping team morale high is easy. The high fives after a goal is scored, the bonhomie when the final whistle signals a victory both mask the many improvements that need to be made so that a team can go on performing at its peak.
But it’s how players respond to a loss that defines the team. It’s easy to for players to drop their heads and stop trying. That’s the point that defines their character and their resilience.