There was a time when I turned my nose up at personal trainers and fitness coaches. After all, I was a standout athlete in high school. I went to college on a [very small] athletic scholarship. I had discipline and fortitude and know how in spades. Why in the world would I spend money on a personal trainer? But after turning forty I started to understand something. Discipline and know how don't count for much when weeks turn into months and months turn into years and your goals aren't any closer.
An athlete will almost always lift more when the coach is watching. The frequency of workouts will go up when we know the trainer is waiting for us at 6 am. And business owners are more likely to spend valuable time on important yet non-urgent projects when a good consultant isn't afraid to mix it up and hold someone's feet to the fire. Accountability is an ingredient we all need for better performance. But that's nothing new. The question I would like to answer is why we don't reach out for it more often? We know we need it, but we don't do anything to get it.
I think the biggest reason we don't get the help we need is that we are too busy missing our goals. Nearly every business owner I have ever encountered is aspirational. Most wake up with dreams they want to accomplish. And 16 hours later when they lay their head on the pillow most realize that they have just finished another day on the hampster wheel. Business owners are all motivated to do more, but they get busy and the busyiness crowds out the time, the energy and the focus they need to stop and do the important stuff.
Another big reason is that for the most part business owners are optimistic and fail to realize the ugliness of their situation. There is one harrowing truth that will usually get even the most optimistic small business owner's attention. The past is the most accurate predictor of the future. In other words, the fact that you have failed to meet your goals is a very, very good indication that you will never meet them.
The only way out of this predicament is to hire someone who will regularly trump everything else on your calendar and force you to spend time working on the business rather than in it. But no consultant, coach or advisor has a magic wand. You are the one in the business every day and you are the leader. You alone will be able to execute and affect the changes needed in your business. That means showing up every day to the hard work and homework assignments you and your coach have agreed to, but more is required.
You must also schedule regular times where you do nothing related to your normal business workdays. You will need every ounce of creativity and insight to accomplish your goals. The only way to get there is to go off by yourself and do the hard work of self reflection, rejuvenation and creation. If you think it takes discipline to work a 20 hour day, try blocking out twelve workdays a year where you don't go to work with anyone but yourself. Very few people want their dreams bad enough to say "no" to all the people, tasks and distractions that will compete for those twelve days. But those are the days insight shows up. Those are the days creativity has enough time on the clock to actually produce something. And those are the days that remind you why you are doing all of this in the first place. Without that recharge you are likely to wake up one day and find yourself five years down the road with nothing to show for it.