Seeing Blue and Orange
Even at 5am at Starbucks there are people wearing Blue and Orange.
Today is game day in Boise, Idaho. When the beloved football team, the BSU Broncos, will play on the blue turf. Blue and orange are their signature colors.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the football fever when you’re living in this town.
I’ve only been to one live game and a handful of tailgates, but I’m curious and sometimes very anxious to see how they do each game.
I used to watch football all the time. Growing up in Alaska and having family in Seattle, it was no surprise that the football team we cheered for was the Seahawks. They were horrible every year back then, but that didn’t matter, they were our team, so we watched all their games.
I’m a fan of football. It’s a fun sport to watch and follow. But in the last 10 years, I’ve probably only watched 10-15 football games. Most of those were Super Bowl games.
The shift away from watching football started when I began working in real estate. Weekends are when most people are off work and available to look at homes.
Then I started my own brokerage, so on top of doing my job as a real estate agent, I was trying to run a firm with other agents in it. When I wasn’t focused on my own transactions, I was focused on trying to help other agents be successful.
Raising young kids over the past decade is also a big reason why I don’t watch football. I work a lot, and when I’m home I’m often still working. So if I do take a break, it’s usually to do something social with friends or something fun with the kids.
Maybe if I had boys instead of girls, football would be on the T.V. more often. But I really don’t miss it, partly because I used to get so anxious and emotional about my team’s performance. Even depressed when my team lost.
I remember when Boise State was heading for a perfect season and lost it all because of a missed field goal in Nevada. The sheer agony I felt after that game lasted for days. They were so close.
I remember thinking to myself, “Mike, stop it, it’s just a game. Let it go.” But even with that personal coaching I was so emotionally invested that it took a ridiculous amount of time to stop thinking about it.
Looking back, my feeling is why put myself through that intentionally? I love weekends because it’s often when I do my best work ON my business instead of during the week when I’m usually very focused on working IN my business.
What I mean by working ON my business is stepping back from the day to day grind of to-do lists and taking a 5,000-foot view of everything.
That is when I can really SEE my business. See ways to solve problems, areas that need more attention. See opportunities and new paths to take.
I’ve been a full-time business owner/entrepreneur for 15+ years.
To have some level of success as an entrepreneur you need drive, tenacity, ingenuity, and the ability to adapt to change. I had all those things from the start. My drive alone gave me a huge edge in the world of business, because I simply was willing to “out work” others.
But over the years of pushing myself and working extremely hard, I’ve come to learn that the real ingredient for a successful business owner (and really for any leader in any type of organization) is the ability to SEE.
When I’m being honest with myself, I thought I could SEE well as a business owner 15 years ago. I thought I could SEE well 5 years ago, but the more years I work in business and work to learn and grow every year, it is extremely evident to me that I can SEE on a whole different level now than I could be before.
I was at a real estate closing yesterday, and after I congratulated Brodie and Lindsey on their new home and handed over the keys to them, I chatted with their lender, Bill, who also attended the closing for a few minutes. I’ve known Bill for over a decade, I like talking with him because he and I are very similar in our business quests.
We are both very hard working, driven to be the best at what we do, and continually look for ways to improve our businesses, home life, and our own personal growth. Over the years we’ve had many conversations about the challenges of maintaining and growing businesses.
We’ve both tried many things that have worked and that have failed in our business pursuits. So naturally when we see each other, we ask one another how things are going, like a “health check.” As in, are you surviving or thriving right now?
I don’t have any problem being completely transparent with Bill because I know he and I are fighting a similar battle, and all battles have their ups and downs.
Bill shared some successes he was experiencing and some challenges he had recently overcome.
But when he asked me how I was doing, I surprised myself with my answer. I hadn’t verbalized what I was feeling out loud to anyone, so hearing myself say it took me back a little.
I said to Bill, “I’m doing great. In fact, I can’t remember a time of feeling more excited about the work I’m doing and what I’m building. I’m SEEING better than I’ve ever been able to see before. I’ve grown out of the put your head down and just do the work mentality, to being able to use that drive to build smarter and to build bigger.”
For so many years I felt I was constantly in survival mode with my business. Where if I didn’t get up early to work, and work late, then I would be letting people down, and have no assurance that we would have enough money to keep going.
That hasn’t completely gone away. Over the last decade I’ve often felt like the mountain I’ve been climbing has been covered in fog. So I’ve just put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other in a direction that I believed was right.
Taking these continued steps has worked. Over the past decade I’ve had a number of painful stumbles, but also many successes.
It’s just now that I feel like I’ve finally climbed out of the fog bank and can see so much more. It’s exhilarating. Now that I can see, I can move faster, climb higher, and even change direction with less uncertainty.
The ability to SEE, as a business owner, or leader, is such a gift. If you have that gift, make sure you take time to stop running with your head down and look up. You just might see an exciting new path to take.
Happy Game Day Boise