How to Abide in Business

In my previous article titled, “The Dude Abides” I suggested we should all consider abiding like Mr. Jeffrey Lebowski. To “abide” means to slow down and take it easy. I realize this suggestion may differ from my previous writings and I thought I would share a little background on this topic for those of you who have an interest in abiding.

Several years ago, Tim Ferriss posted an article on his blog about using the philosophy of Stoicism as a guide for entrepreneurs. In his article, he shared the following quote from Seneca:

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”

Well, when I read this post, I really didn’t fully grasp what Seneca meant when he put this idea to paper. At the time I initially read this quote, I was the busy man fighting to achieve my various business and wealth goals. The majority of books I read were business and marketing books. I worked 7 days a week and was proud of my work ethic. I honestly viewed myself as a work machine.

Tim’s post led me to reading “The Shortness of Life” by Seneca. One thing led to another and I began reading philosophy book after philosophy book. This was a major shift for me and I began to think differently about life. I have always felt we have one shot at life and it makes a great deal of sense to try and get it right. Who wants to face their last few hours with regret on how they invested their time?

One of the biggest ideas repeated through almost every single philosophy book is…

Wealth accumulation is not a worthwhile pursuit.

So I began to struggle with the ideas of philosophy and business, because they seemed to conflict. Every business book I studied focused on increasing revenues and profits. Every philosophy book I studied focused on how to live life well by changing how we think and to fight the urge to pursue money, material “doodads”, and wealth.

The big question that kept swirling around in my head was, “How do I build a business (or businesses) and use philosophy as a way of life?” Now I haven’t mastered what I’m about to share with you, but I think it may be helpful, so I’m going to share it anyhow. I honestly do not know if I will ever master these steps; however, I hope to improve more and more with each passing year. Seneca was definitely correct when he wrote…”there is nothing harder to learn.”

1. Change your goal(s).

For most of my career, I set very specific business goals. These goals included number of leads generated, number of leads converted to clients, number of sales, commissions earned and wealth acquired. Goals such as these are very important, if the focus is money and wealth. However, if the goal becomes living a good life, these goals may become problematic.

To eliminate these problems before they occur, consider shifting your goals to something more valuable – learning how to live.

Yes, we will still work and build our businesses, but $$$ will not be our focus. Instead our focus shifts to slowing down and enjoying life. It’s important to understand we enjoy life in our thoughts, not our bank accounts.

2. Slow Down.

I have always been a very impatient person. I do not like waiting for anything. For many years, I thought this helped me in business because I would simply make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen. The old “Money Follows Speed” thing. Well, I now finally understand there is NO DAMN URGENCY.  It is impossible to enjoy life when you’re going 100 miles an hour trying to do too many things at once. Slow down and understand everything will be okay. It really will. Take time to smell the roses. Take time to play tag with your kids. Take time to learn a musical instrument. (I am taking acoustic guitar lessons. They are very challenging!) Take time to read philosophy books. Take time to enjoy the people in your life. All relationships end in loss, so enjoy every second you have with the people you love.

Yes, continue to work to improve your business. However, understand there is no urgency. We create urgency by the importance we place on things. Eliminate or reduce the importance and the urgency disappears.

3. Stop Creating Drama in Every Area of Our Lives

We create drama when we make a BIG deal out of little things. We have a tendency to create a lot of drama in our lives and sometimes we don’t even realize we are the drama starters. I used to think others created all of the drama, but I now clearly see that I’m very good at it, too. Before doing something, take a second and ask yourself these questions…

– Is this really necessary?
– Will this call/email/text cause drama?
– Is this really a BIG deal, or can I simply let it go and let things happen as they will?

A great example I can remember from a Disney vacation occurred when I tried to get fast passes for my family for the new Toy Story ride. I had heard that fast passes go quickly, so I got up early and went to the park on my own. I took the park tickets for all of my family members and my plan was to get fast passes for everyone. Well, I entered the park and rushed the fast pass machine. I couldn’t get fast passes for my family and this was because they hadn’t scanned their park tickets at the gate. I went back to the gate and learned that I couldn’t scan their tickets without each person being with me. So I ended up not getting fast passes and wasting a ton of time in the process. I initiated this drama and suffered the consequences. The rest of my family slept in and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the resort. I didn’t because I decided to initiate this drama by turning the fast pass tickets into a BIG thing.

4. Learning Detachment

Over the years, I have allowed myself to get so wrapped up in the outcome of just about everything. This has caused a great deal of unnecessary stress and unhappiness. One of the ways to abide in business is to learn to detach yourself from what happens in your business. I realize this may sound crazy, but you’ll find a lot more happiness. As an example, let’s assume you have a listing appointment tomorrow. Try and detach yourself from the outcome of this appointment. If you get the listing, great. If you don’t get the listing, great. This way you cannot lose and you’ll hopefully avoid some disappointment if you walk away without the listing. This is the…“Fuck it, lets go bowling” mindset from The Big Lebowski movie.

If any of this has any meaning to you for your life, I would like to recommend one more book. The book is titled, “A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William Irvine. It is probably the best book on how to live life well I have read over the last few years.

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