22 Jul The Power Of Your Environment
The Power Of Your Environment
Today I’m looking at environment, specifically your working environment. It’s about the power that your environment has over your personal performance, productivity and ultimately your success in your business and life as a whole. I recently wrote about how, first and foremost, you are a product of your environment which naturally leads to your environment is a product of you and your actions. In other words, how your past is projected into a future which you then live, and how that can create a potential trap. You’ll find the post here – Does the past have to equal the future?
But what we’re looking at today is not just how you may be a product of your environment or the past but how your current working environment is dictating your personal performance and therefore the results you’re getting out of life and out of your business.
You need to understand this. We have evolved over millions of years to be hardwired to our external environment. For example, we have an internal environment which is populated by our thoughts, our mindset, our experiences and our feelings. We also have the external environment and the two are very much linked together.
We are aware that we can live in a substandard environment and, with a little bit of mindfulness, maybe some meditation and some positive mental attitude, we can give ourselves a good experience of life even so, even managing to be super-productive. We also know that if we are in our perfect environment, at a party, with people we love around us, surrounded by nature that we love – trees, lakes, the sea – we can be miserable and unproductive. Therefore, we know that the overriding factor is our internal environment. We know that. This is why so much of what I do at Bigger Brighter Bolder, in our Success Groups and Masterminds, is working on the internal environment. It’s working on your mindset and your attitude. It’s working on your perceptions of yourself and the world around you, your business and the market, your finances and charging the right price for your services or products.
However, if we ignore and neglect the importance of the external environment as a trigger for how we feel inside, we’re in denial. We absolutely can and should make it our mission to enjoy life and to find the performance and productivity within ourselves no matter what is going on around us. But it can become a relentless battle to constantly fight an external environment that is making it harder for us to have the internal experience that we want to have, be it joy, happiness, motivation, inspiration or aspiration.
For me, whilst I am heavily focused on the internal environment, I am all about the symbiotic nature of the internal and external environments and how the two play off against each other to create your experience of life and your performance as a human being.
So today we are looking at three specific areas of the environment that you work in. The first one is your physical environment – literally where you sit your butt, where you work, whether it’s in your house or elsewhere. You’re a small business owner, so you could be working at your kitchen table. You might have a small home office. Maybe you’ve kitted out the garage or you’ve got a garden shed that you’ve made over and you work there. Perhaps you work from coffee shops quite a lot. Maybe you do some hot-desking. Perhaps you do actually have an office already that you rent or own at the moment, depending on where you are in your business journey, and of course, it would depend on what kind of business you are. Wherever you are reading this right now, wherever you work, day-to-day, I want you to take stock of that environment and really ask yourself these challenging questions.
Does it support you in being who you need to be? In other words, does it create the internal experience that you need to have – inspiration, aspiration – to be highly motivated, to be super productive, focused and disciplined, so that you can achieve what you need to in order to create the success that you want out of your business, and of course, out of your life?
You may have ended up working in an environment that is the only one available to you. You didn’t really think twice about it and that’s where you now sit. However, the environment that you work in can absolutely boost your productivity and personal performance as well as your well-being, and it can massively negatively impact it too. So, the first thing to understand is, what is a productive environment?
We had it right decades ago when we were going to an office, shut ourselves in, keeping everything else outside of that door. And even now you know this to be true because when you’re up against it when you’re up against a deadline, what do you do? You probably put yourself somewhere quiet, take away all the stimulation, the TV, the radio, maybe shut the door on the family or the other people working in your business, keeping them on the outside. Let’s look at this.
The most productive environment is the quiet, peaceful environment that only has the work that you’re working on in front of you, right? You’re super-focused, no distractions, and able to absolutely, completely focus on what you’re working on. That is the perfect environment. However, just because that’s the environment that promotes the best productivity, doesn’t mean that you don’t feel trapped or stuck in a box in the corner of your house, for example. Maybe there’s some junk in there because it’s also doubling-up as a storage room. Even if you clear it out and make it your space if you sit in that, day in and day out, whilst it has the potential to be the most productive environment, it’s very possible that you end up becoming unproductive because it doesn’t inspire you. It may be the best environment for focus, discipline, and productivity, but if it doesn’t inspire you if you don’t have that internal chemistry set of being highly motivated or being really inspired, then, of course, you’re always going to be a little bit sluggish as well.
When you’re looking at your work environment, you need to weigh up two things. Firstly, what is considered to be (and what is) the most productive environment, and how do you feel?
If you feel lonely or uninspired in the box in the corner of your house, or if you’re in an office shared with other people but you close the door and start to feel lonely and miserable, you’re going to become unproductive. Even though there’s the possibility in there to be the most productive you can be, you’re not actually being productive because the bottom line is, you’re not inspired. So, you take yourself out of that environment, putting yourself into an inspirational environment, such as a cafe. It’s buzzing, there are people around. Maybe you go to the local park. Now you feel much more inspired by the environment but it’s very much more distracting and it’s going to have less potential for you to be focused and disciplined, but maybe you’ll be more productive because you’ll use more of the potential that environment has in terms of being inspirational and motivational. But do not make the mistake of thinking that somehow the cafe or park, or the open plan office, is the most productive environment. It’s not. In fact, it’s massively limiting in terms of productivity. What it is, however, is where you may be more productive, and these are not the same things. You need to really get clear on that.
It may be that you find yourself more productive when you go to the cafe to work than you do when you stay at home on the kitchen table, even though the kitchen table is completely quiet and devoid of all distraction. The kitchen table is still the better working space in terms of productivity, you just happen to be working better at the cafe because you’re more inspired. This can be confusing and seem complicated, but I want to make this clear.
Some people tell me they work better when surrounded by other people. No, you don’t. We work better when we’re absolutely on our own. What they mean is, they are more inspired, more motivated when surrounded by other people, and therefore, even though that environment is not as supportive of productivity as the little solo box that we’re talking about, you are still more productive than you are inside a box.
So, here’s the thing. Choose the right environment at the right time for what it is you’re trying to do. When you need to really knuckle down, when you need to focus, when you haven’t got the time that you need to be able to deal with the distraction that comes from being around other people, the time and luxury to be distracted, know that you need to get yourself inside that box and get your head down. Then make that space as inspirational as possible.
You do that by carefully choosing the pictures you put up on the wall, the colours you paint the room, the furniture you put in there, the computer gear. I’m using a Mac. I know we have the Mac and the PC brigade, but one of the reasons that people go for Mac products is the feeling it gives them. It makes them feel inspired. Now of course, if you’re not a Mac person I know you don’t buy into this, but a lot of people open the Mac up and feel like they’ve arrived. It contributes to their sense of aspiration.
If you’re using an old laptop that just doesn’t inspire you, it makes you feel like you’re a homepreneur, a hobbyist, just working off your kid’s laptop perhaps, not very inspiring. Maybe going out and getting some nice kit is going to be the right thing for you. Of course, don’t go out and buy thousands of pounds worth of Mac gear, or whatever else, if you can’t afford it. I need you to put your own common-sense check on this, but it’s that kind of thing. Think about the equipment you’re using, the books you write in. I love notebooks that are expensive. You can get notebooks for 50p or £1, but I tend to go for more expensive ones. I like leather-feeling ones. I like thick paper. It stimulates me in a way that makes me feel more productive, more aspirational, and I’m more inspired.
If you are already working in a home office, look around yourself and think, is this truly aspirational for me? Go and get yourself a nice comfortable chair. Get yourself a nice desk. You don’t have to spend thousands of pounds on this stuff, but maybe if you’re sitting on a chair that you dragged out of the bedroom and you’re using a desk that you dragged out of the garage, get yourself some nice gear that really makes you feel inspired.
It’s a bit like getting a nice business card. We rarely use them these days but it’s nice to have that good quality business card because it makes us feel a certain way and those feelings translate into our behaviours – not just our experience of life, but also our productivity. So have a look at your environment. Does it inspire you?
If you work in your kitchen, look around. Is it cluttered? I knew a woman who worked in the kitchen and her sons kept coming in and disturbing her while making food and she felt that she couldn’t start work until she’d tidied everything up. So, of course, it was really distracting and unproductive. She took herself out, got herself an office in a really nice space with lovely views where she could see the grounds and go walking outside. She was really inspired by that, and it was a move that was really needed in her business even though she’d happily got by, slogging it out, sharing the kitchen with the rest of her family and all the crap that comes with that.
If you frequently work at the coffee shop, understand that you are being less productive. Potentially, you will be significantly underperforming, and therefore you’ll be working harder but not being that productive, perhaps only half as productive as you would be in a quiet office somewhere that inspires you. I’ve done some exercises on this, looking at productivity, and I show people how they can get twice as much done in half the time to twice the standard that they were currently doing by looking at the external environment whilst also taking a look at the internal environment, in terms of focus and discipline. It’s very possible that you are doing half as much as you could do. It’s very possible you’re taking twice as long to do it, and that your work is of a much lower standard than it would be if you took yourself to this much better, more productive space that I’m referring to.
For me, personally, I mix it up. It’s as simple as that. If I feel boxed in at home and I’m starting to feel uninspired, I get myself out. I tend to work at the gym – it’s right there and there’s healthy food. I hit the gym, do some work, have some lunch, do a bit more work, maybe go and swim, and I’ll go there regularly because it really inspires me to get out. It also forces me to do something towards getting fit because I’m in that space, and I love that. But if I went in there every single day, I would be half as productive as I am today.
Next up, we’ll talk about two more aspects of your environment that you need to think about. The first of these is the sector of the industry that you are in. It’s the environment that you operate in. It’s your marketplace. If you’re not inspired by your industry sector, or if you’ve lost the inspiration that you once had around your industry, you are never going to be as inspired or motivated as you otherwise would be. When you’re setting up a business, whilst you’re creating your business plans and doing all the right things in terms of making sure there’s a market and designing the right products, et cetera, it’s absolutely imperative that you really care about that marketplace, that you really care about that industry sector. If you’re uninspired by your industry, you’re really going to struggle to have the motivation levels you need in order to be productive enough to generate any degree of real success.
I need you to check right now – look at your industry, look at the marketplace you’re operating in and ask yourself, does this inspire me? Do you care enough about this to want to work hard, to do the extra hours, to make the sacrifices needed in order to create success in business that you want?
I worked in an industry some years ago which I loved for about three years. I was really passionate about helping the people that I was helping but it got to a point where it was chipping away at me, and I’ll be honest with you, I started to doubt my connection with the industry. I started to lose my motivation. That was the moment for me to do some soul-searching and re-evaluation. You can fall back in love with your industry just like you can fall back in love with your spouse or partner. You just have to go back to what it was that you loved about them at the beginning, what it was that inspired you. What is it that you love about them now, what do you care deeply about, what do you want for these people?
Does that stir you enough to re-engage? Just because you’ve fallen out of love with your industry doesn’t mean you can’t get back to a loving relationship with your industry. Do the work. However, if you can’t, it may be a call to action to re-evaluate the industry that you’re in and re-evaluate what it is you’re doing because if you’re not massively inspired and motivated by the industry sector that you’re in, it’s just going to be another job. It’s going to get worse and worse. You may even start resenting your business, resenting your market, your industry, even resenting your client base.
And the last factor for today is, in fact, your client base. So, you’ve got your industry sector, but do you still love your client base? Are you still inspired by your clients? Some people feel guilty about this. They start off really passionate about their client base and they love it. They work with them for three years, four years, five years, but maybe they don’t have the money that’s needed in order to be able to level up the business. Maybe the working conditions aren’t good. Maybe it’s just the client base itself. For whatever reason, the client base just isn’t delivering what the business needs it to deliver.
It’s okay to level up. It’s okay to take your business and service another level of client, maybe a client that’s more aspirational, maybe a client that has deeper pockets, a client that just appreciates you more. I had a client in one of my Masterminds who felt that, although he loved his industry sector, the client base that he was working with didn’t truly appreciate or respect the work that he did as part of the bigger project that these people were working on. He was really struggling on a number of levels. He was struggling to be purposeful and passionate about what he was doing and not feeling rewarded, inspired or motivated by it. And you need all these things to come into play in order to have the long-term motivation levels required to keep showing up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, to be able to create the success that you want to have.
As before, with the industry sector, you can fall back in love with your client base. Go back and ask yourself what it is that you loved about these people originally, what it was that you were drawn to. What problem were you trying to solve? Why did you care so much about that? Re-engage with those old feelings.
If however it still isn’t doing it for you, it may be time to re-evaluate and start looking for the client base which will deliver what you need in order to grow your business but also to inspire you and make you feel valued, and to feel purposeful about what you’re doing.
These are the three aspects of the environment I want you to think about today. Think about the physical environment. It’s really important. Think about where you feel most inspired versus where you are more productive. You’ve got to find the right balance based on your workload and the productivity that you’re trying to achieve.
Secondly, look at the industry sector that you’re in. You must be motivated by your industry sector. Not so long ago, I got quite disconnected from my own industry, especially online. I’m quite critical of my industry online and I had to do some real soul-searching to reconnect with my position in that marketplace. I found myself starting to lose my inspiration, not with the stuff we’re doing offline, but with the online aspects, and I’ve come back with an absolute f***ing vengeance because I took the time to really reconnect.
And it’s crucial that you’re passionate about your client base – that it really inspires you, that you feel valued and everything else. Get these three things in place and you will be motivated. You will have high levels of aspiration. You’ll be inspired and more productive. The productivity that comes from bringing these three elements together is what will ultimately make you successful in your business.
I hope this has connected with you today. If you really want to become more productive, if you have a business that’s currently doing five figures and you want to know what it’s going to take to hit 100k or more in the next 12 months or less, get yourself onto my 6-Figure Fast Track Webinar.
For more about motivation and productivity, keep reading. Let’s get you super-inspired, super-motivated, and super-productive. Until next time, be successful.