Written by: Lynne Strang
I’ll never forget the most unusual compliment I’ve ever received in my career.
It happened during a debrief for a just-completed conference that some industry colleagues and I had spent many months putting together. Seated around a big table, we reviewed what went well, what needed improvement, and what we wanted to change for next year.
Then one team member turned and looked at me.
“This meeting has so many components,” he said. “Lynne, you’re the glue that holds them all together.”
What, exactly, did my colleague mean by his remark? By describing me as “glue,” it was his way of saying that I united all of the conference’s pieces in a cohesive, coordinated way.
Likewise, every business owner needs glue—a sticky mixture of routine skills, activities, processes, relationships, talents, and strengths that function together. The ingredients of your glue—the things you do, day in and day out—are what enable big goals to happen.
As I researched my latest book (The 4Ls: A Simple Way to Find Life Purpose), I had the opportunity to validate the importance of glue while talking with people who were contemplating business startups, career changes or departures, or some other new path in life. What came across loud and clear was this message: Make sure your glue consists of ingredients you like, or at least don’t mind doing.
Initially, the excitement of starting something new may give you the motivation to tackle a long list of day-to-day tasks and interactions that come with the endeavor. But if you don’t like these components, you may not do them for long. And if you don’t do them, your vision won’t be sustainable.
For business owners, this means it isn’t enough to choose a good business idea that fulfills an unmet demand. You also have to know yourself—your core values, your gifts, your strengths and weaknesses, what you like and don’t like—so you can concoct the glue needed for long-term success.
Plenty of coaches and online tools can help you go through a self-assessment if you aren’t sure what you like. As a way to get started, let me suggest three places to look.
Your Free Time
Dig deeper and you may discover that you’re a contrarian—someone who enjoys certain tasks that most of us don’t like. The majority of people, for example, would rather not use their weekends to organize files, mow lawns, or clean houses. You, on the other hand, may like the tidiness, the outdoor time, the exercise, or the sense of accomplishment that comes from these activities—all of which can become glue ingredients for a business.
Your Peak Time
These are the times when you’re firing on all four cylinders, or so engrossed in what you’re doing that you lose track of everything around you. Maybe this happens when you’re troubleshooting a complex computer issue, editing an important email, or speaking before a group on a topic that you’re passionate about.
Your peak time also includes favorite moments of the day. When I used to shuttle back and forth to an office, my least favorite moment was the commute because I don’t particularly like driving. For others, getting behind the wheel could be a favorite moment because it gives them a sense of freedom. Or maybe they feel of service because they’re delivering products or people to their destinations. If transporting or delivering bring contentment, great. Embrace these likes and make them part of your glue.
Your Tea Time
While you can swap tea for coffee or another beverage, the question remains the same. Who you do like to meet up with for a drink or a bite to eat? Why do you like spending time with these people? What are their traits, their values, their philosophies that you admire? Once identified, you can think about whether these ingredients are ones you want to model and include in your own glue.
And when it comes to assessing the positive characteristics of likeable folks, you don’t have to limit yourself to people you know personally. If you read books by certain authors, or listen to the same podcast hosts or speakers regularly—maybe as you sip a favorite beverage—you’re hanging out with them.
The bottom line: No matter what business you’re in, you’ll need a mixture of tasks and talents to hold the operation together. And because the ingredients of this glue absorb most of the hours of your week, your levels of happiness and work satisfaction depend on whether the majority of your epoxy elements are ones that you like.
So take the time to figure out the right ingredients for your glue. In the end, you’re more like to have a business that will stick.
About the author:
Lynne Beverly Strang is a freelance writer who helps small business owners meet their communications and marketing goals. Prior to becoming a solopreneur, Lynne had a long career in public relations where her writing projects ranged from speeches to newsletters. Lynne is the author of “The 4Ls: A Simple Way to find Life Purpose”, Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40. She has an award-winning blog, also called Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs. Her website is lynnebeverlystrang.com.