Ciao. Adios. Au Revior. Aloha, Sayonara.
Goodbye is sometimes the hardest word to say because it often means letting go of something for good. It could be a relationship we know isn’t right, a habit we know isn’t healthy or a situation we’ve let go for too long.
But it’s human nature to hold on to things that we suspect might not be right or good for us, especially when they are familiar and easy. That annoying phenomenon is known as our comfort zone.
Just over a month ago a good speaker friend of mine Louise Mahler was mauled by a tiger snake on her rural property just outside of Melbourne. And when I say mauled, I’m not exaggerating. We were speaking at a conference together in Bali the week before last and she showed me the snake bites down her lower back, which were still horrific a fortnight on from the attack. The snake shredded through leather lined riding jodhpurs and viciously bit her several times.
To say she should be dead is an understatement. She was rushed to hospital where she spent three days recovering under the watchful eye of a team of doctors. The medical fraternity and snake experts are baffled that she didn’t go into cardiac arrest before the ambulance even arrived and have put it down to a rare, one in a hundred occurrence of venom failure.
Needless to say, while the venom from the snake failed to penetrate, the post-traumatic stress and emotional impact has been significant and infiltrated almost every aspect of her life. But to her credit, she’s channelling the shock of the experience into positive change and has — admirably — used it as a watershed moment that’s already paying dividends in more ways than one.
A few days after leaving hospital, she came to the conclusion that the snake attack was a somewhat metaphorical message, so she took it as a sign that drastic life changes were needed.
In a moment of decisive change and radical action that often follows a near-death experience, she let her personal assistant and property caretaker go and ended several personal relationships. All in a matter of hours. She also rid her business of some other systems and expenses that she’d had for years. She basically took a torch to almost every part of her life and business.
Sounds like a pretty drastic response to a random and unlucky reptilian encounter but she went on to tell me that It’s been the best thing she’s ever done. In a moment of revelation, she felt that the snake was a metaphor for some of those relationships and she needed to get rid of them.
‘I’ve wiped the slate clean and couldn’t be happier,’ she said. ‘I feel free and can now make decisions based on what I want to achieve in the future rather than what I did in the past.’
But she didn’t stay stripped bare for long. Within a few weeks she’d found a wonderful new executive assistant and other marketing resources that are better suited to where Louise’s speaking business is heading (into the stratosphere just quietly).
Louise’s experience and our subsequent conversation poolside in Bali really got me thinking and inspired me to make some changes of my own. I realised that in business and in life, we often stick with the outcomes of decisions we made in the past because they were good decisions then. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they are good decisions for now, or more importantly, where you’re heading.
Here are some thought starters on five things it might be time to say goodbye to or at least explore better alternatives for.
1. YOUR KEY PEOPLE
If you’re looking to up-level any part of your business, it goes without saying that who you have around you is critical. Do you have the very best people achieving the very best outcomes for you? Taking stock of your key people, particularly when you only have a couple of them, is hard to do objectively. There are usually emotions involved and it might feel ‘icky’ to question people who’ve been with you for a long time, which makes it easy to avoid. Nothing fosters complacency and procrastination quite like legacy.
Rather than reviewing individuals, it might be easier to reverse-engineer the process by starting with a blank piece of paper. If you were starting from scratch today, what would your ideal scenario be? If you had a magic wand, what would your ‘dream team’ look like? What skills and traits would they possess? Now cross reference your list against who you have. If there isn’t a solid match, It could be either time to say goodbye to that person or say goodbye to the systems and processes that are allowing them to perform at a level below what you need.
Or, if you’re like me, it could be time to say goodbye to your procrastination around difficult conversations.
2. YOUR INNER CIRCLE
Apart from the people on your payroll, the people you spend the most time with are also having a significant impact on your mindset and success. Remember, what is informing you is forming you.
Is it time to say goodbye to some friendships that aren’t helping you achieve your goals or reach your potential? Have a scroll through your favourite numbers listed in your phone and ask yourself – are these relationships moving me towards my goals or holding me back from them?
For me, being far more disciplined about who I spend time with has been a game changer. Forming a mastermind group of other leading speakers has made a big difference professionally and personally.
3. YOUR SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
Were your systems perfect for your business five years ago? Or a year ago? Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it might be time to explore what’s available or what’s best practice for your business of today and tomorrow.
(for an up-to-date list of my favourite tech tools, click here).
4. UNNECESSARY EXPENSES WEIGHING YOU DOWN
Done an audit of all your subscriptions recently? Do you really need them all? It’s estimated that the average Australian now has more than a dozen subscriptions. It’s how we consume our music, entertainment, technology and information now. But have you done an analysis of how many small amounts are being swiped off your credit card each month and whether you really need them all?
It could also be time to review and critique how much you’re paying for your insurances, your utilities, your IT support, accounting and other services. Shaving just 10% off your outgoings will accumulate to a tidy sum over a 12-month period.
5. PLAYING SMALL
The final goodbye requires some self-reflection. Like the computer programs and systems in our lives that quickly become obsolete, our internal beliefs and ambitions may no longer be serving us.
It’s human nature to long for the comfort of safety and certainty and in an era where so much emphasis is placed on social proof, it’s very easy to fall into habits and behaviours that are designed to conform to society or limit our ambitions. And as safe as that might feel, it hardly paves the way to an extraordinary life. The thinking that got you to this point is unlikely to be the same level of thinking that you need for your next leap.
When was the last time you said yes to something that really expanded your thinking, took you outside your comfort zone and exposed you to an epic environment and epic people? Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the inner voice that holds you back from taking those hops, skips, jumps and cartwheels outside your comfort zone.
As we evolve, in business and in life, we need to shed the dead leaves and branches to allow the new ones to grow. Take some time out to look around and be brutally honest about what you need to say goodbye to and what you need to prune. It could be the turning point for an up-level and it’s always better to do it on your own terms than waiting until reality bites.