When I started my first business, The Successful Woman, I thought I’d model it after existing personal development companies. I quickly realized that many of the people making a living as motivational speakers were doing things that I had no interest in emulating. My response to some of the business practices I saw was to devise a list of personal rules which I have continued to follow. Unlike ordinary goals, these rules weren’t about what I wanted to do; they were about what I didn’t want to do.

Not long ago, I was thinking about those rules and how they have helped me design a business that keeps me captivated. These rules have also helped me avoid pitfalls and temptations. While they may not apply to your business, I wanted to share them and suggest you come up with your own counterpart that fits who you are.

Don’t have two years that are exactly alike. This rule came about in response to the years I’d spent teaching at the high school level, years that seemed to be carbon copies of one another. One of the big motivations with self-employment for me was the opportunity to try many things and make continuous discoveries. 

Don’t teach what I haven’t learned. When I was starting out, I was eager to hear and observe as many professional speakers as possible. While I learned a great deal about effective presentations from observing the pros, I also saw far too speakers who relied on platitudes and less than original thinking. Even though I knew it would take longer, I was determined to learn first, teach later.

Don’t build dependency relationships. At its worst, we think of cults as engendering blind obedience. Plenty of other gurus have also created organizations that foster dependency. I want people to discover their own power and passion and that can never happen if they’re dependent on me.

Thinking about what you don’t want to include in your business can save time, save missteps and frustration—and keep you focused on those things that make your heart sing.

P.S. Want to be a more effective goal-setter? Check out my upcoming teleclass, Goalsetting 101.

One Response to “Avoid the Right Thing”

  1. Jen

    Hi Barbara,
    I’m really still in my first year of my business or jobless job. It seems whenever I think I’ve gotten it off the ground, I realize months later that I was still learning.

    That is why I loved these three points. They made me stop and be grateful for my journey so far and excited about the future.

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