Being a leader is a stressful job, and being an owner is even more stressful. There are employee issues, payroll to make, and a mountain of unexpected challenges. As a leader or owner it’s important to be self aware of this issue. Stress can kill your motivation and passion… if you let it. I sat down with Alan De Keyrel, owner of CWS, and asked him how he recharges and stays motivated.
KNOWING WHEN YOU NEED TO RECHARGE
Me: Can you tell when you need recharging? What are the signs?
Alan: I get crabby. And I know because people tell me I get crabby. Mostly Kim (Alan’s spouse) tells me.
Me: What things make you crabby?
Alan: When I’m really working on a project or have a hard deadline. I start to take my work home. Over the years I’ve learned it’s vital to separate work life from home life. You can’t continually go home and ignore your family in the name of business. I’ve got a quote from Lee Iacocca taped to my computer screen to remind me of this daily:
HOW TO RECHARGE
Me: What do you do to recharge?
Alan: I get away from the office or go on a mini-vacation. My biggest revelations always happen when I’m not at the office. At work, I get caught doing things. When I’m on vacation is when I get my big ideas. Building our office building came to me while on a hunting trip back in 2003. At that time, I only had 5 employees. Sitting out in the woods and looking at the trees, with no phones, no computers, no distractions, no people around, it occurred to me that we were going to need space, for more people, for data centers, for equipment. I needed a grand vision of what CWS would look like in 5 or 10 years. I thought about this when I was up in a tree. “Am I ready for the risks and rewards of doing this?” That’s how this building came to be. Now, we have 18 employees, a data center and backup generators to support our customers.
Me: Did you shoot anything on your trip?
Alan: I don’t remember. But I do remember that’s when the building idea came to be. It wasn’t there before the trip.
ON MANAGING STRESS
Me: Stress is a big part of this equation. What do you do to reduce stress?
Alan: Recognize that you have to manage your stress. I didn’t do that for a long time, but over the past several years, I have. I workout 4-5 days a week and eat healthier foods. Feeling good, I’ve learned, is important. Be aware of it. Take care of yourself. If you let yourself get stressed out, you’ll pile on the weight, feel tired all the time, and start to have aches and pains you never had before.
I’d add that you also need to stop and recognize when you’ve done a good job. Too many times we don’t stop to feel good about our accomplishments, because the next challenge is always waiting for us. When you do something good, celebrate the win!
FIND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU
Me: What motivates you?
Alan: In one word: “Winning”. Winning is a lot of things to me. Financial numbers, of course, but also happy employees and developing a great culture. I don’t think a lot of companies have the last two. There are companies that may have great numbers, but their employees are miserable, and the culture is crappy.
Helping people succeed also motivates me. Both customers and employees. When you see how much an employee has grown and learned over a period of a few years-that motivates me. Or when you develop a solution for a business that helped to relieve their stress, make their job easier, or acquire more sales-that motivates me.
HAVING A SUPPORT SYSTEM
Me: You must have a support system. What’s yours?
Alan: #1 is Kim. She’s the first person I bounce ideas off of. And she’s pretty darn honest. I talk to others, too. My parents. Other business people. In my book, Jobless, I have a section that talks about the importance of building relationships that are healthy and helpful. My RFBC group is a great support system. This is a group of 8 local business owners. We’ve met every month for the past 5 years and discuss issues and get feedback from one another. We’ve signed confidentiality agreements so we can talk about it all; numbers, employee issues, comp plans, health insurance, etc.
FINAL TIPS & THOUGHTS
Me: Any other thoughts on this topic?
Alan: Here’s a tip about vacations and getting away. If you’re recharging, don’t take your kids. That’s a different type of vacation and also necessary. On a family vacation your kids deserve your time and attention. If your purpose is to recharge, you can’t have the kids along, because then you’re focused on parenting.
Here’s the key to success and motivation: It’s less about trying to motivate yourself and more about staying focused. You’ve got to watch the little distractions; daily fires, emails, taking on tasks that should be delegated. This will bog you down, and that’s how you lose motivation. Always remember to ask yourself, am I working In my business or On my business?