Knowledge workers who manage their mind can better manage their business
My partner and I work with a lot of creative business owners. We exclusively work with service-based business entrepreneurs. We are also creative service-based business owners ourselves.
Service-based business owners are typically selling some type of creative mind output, expert knowledge, or some other intangible deliverable that is the result of thinking. Businesses that are built around the output of the owner, or the team’s minds, can be tricky to manage, but it is the key to building a successful firm.
On one hand, the output of the mind can be a lot of fun because the owner can dream up any service that brings value to clients. The opportunities for service are never-ending. But, the dark side of selling the creative output of the mind is that failing to manage the mind of the creative business owner will lead to poor service and limited creative output (the very thing we are selling). Few do this work well. Managing your mind is a source of success for a creative service-based business owner because this is the key to either strong creative output or poor creative output.
My partner and I have learned this the hard way. In periods of intense growth and heavy work, we become overwhelmed with what we are asking our minds to produce. There have been times when my partner and I were consulting with clients, leading them through retreats (traveling from the East coast to the West coast), dealing with team members quitting, working with an unhappy client, and onboarding the biggest client we’ve ever had—all at the same time.
This is a lot to expect from a mind. All of these activities take time from our minds. We have to focus to think straight, produce our work clearly, and make the right decisions at the right time. The mind is not infinite. It takes management so that it does not become over-taxed.
We’ve found that the word “overwhelmed” is a key word that is used by humans who are feeling an overtaxing of their minds. When this happens, the mind becomes cloudy, thoughts slow down, processing becomes more difficult, and switching between tasks becomes harder. The result is often frustration between two creative individuals who are trying to work together. They stop seeing the issues clearly, and they begin to fight for their cloudy view of a situation in their mind.
So, how do you actually “manage the mind” of a creative individual? A few ways:
- Empty the mind. Our team can throw out the “overwhelmed” word from time to time. So, we have them empty their minds with a brainstorm of their work every Monday. People will push back at this task at first because this feels like a waste of time. But, keeping a creative mind empty is a key to manage the output and pace that is needed to sell the things we are thinking. Minds fill up fast. So, we all have to constantly empty them in ways that keep them squeaky clean. You can journal, dump thoughts onto sticky pad paper, or even talk out loud. Whatever it takes—emptying your mind is a key to staying on top of your work and continually producing creative thoughts that you can sell.
- Organize the mind. Prioritizing is an important function of the brain’s prefrontal cortex (PFC)—the part of the brain that plays a role in the regulation of complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. This part of the brain is very limited, and few ideas and thoughts can remain in the PFC at one time. Prioritizing is a way to clean up the brain, keep it organized, and minimize its activity so you can think clearly. We help our clients clean up their minds by coaching them through making priorities out of their minds. We ask, “What are the top three things, in order, that you need to work on over the next month?” or, “What one thing can you stop doing to be more successful next week?” These important questions sort through the mind, keep it organized, and help our clients think more clearly (and more quickly).
- Stay on the same page. One thing that can blow up your mind (a phrase I use often to describe myself) is to be out of sync, or in an argument with someone close to you. A partner, spouse, team member, or significant other all count. If you “get off the page” with anyone close to you, it will tax your mind to think through the problems you are having, struggling to clarify why things got out of sync, and trying to understand how to clear up your disagreements and miscommunications. My partner and I keep this part of our minds clear by scheduling daily “Same Page” meetings so we can ask, “What’s on your mind?” or, “What are you struggling to think through that I don’t know about?” It takes time, but the regular benefits of managing your mind with Same Page meetings produce a clear mind that allows for creative thoughts that are valuable to others.
Managing the mind will take you time. Successful creative service-based business owners are successful at managing their minds with some of the tools I’ve mentioned above.
Successful entrepreneurs have figured out that their minds are their greatest asset—they take care of it, and spend regular time on how they think, why they think the way they do, and how to manage their thinking better.
If you are struggling to think clearly, or need consulting to clear up wrong thoughts in your own firm, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can help you clean up your team’s minds!