“I don’t have much to do in my business these days” were the exact words from a business owner I met with last week.
You could get a sense that the words almost scared him as they came out of his mouth and left a concerned sense somewhere between, “I can’t believe this is actually true” and, “am I missing something that I should be seeing?”
As business coaches, we can’t help but be excited and offer a bit of a chuckle when we see business owners arrive at the place where their business is running consistently without their direct, hour by hour, day by day input and effort. Not by unhealthy abdication, but instead by thoughtful, consistent, intentional leadership rooted in systems, process, and purpose.
After a few seconds of joy and enthusiasm, we quickly move into a mode where we want to ensure that the owner is in a healthy place, and the team is in a healthy place.
Frankly, it makes me a bit uneasy to think about a driven personality with a forward-leaning mindset to be equipped with marginal time and marginal resources.
Ever heard the story of the successful entrepreneur who was engrossed in a twisted and bazaar mid-life crisis? The marginal time and marginal money paradox is the most common breeding ground for such an unrestrained crisis.
If you're looking for more resources to work ON your business, we have them.
The very first thing you should do if you are bored in your business is to pause and make sure you have health in your personal disciplines. Boredom has been made out to be a non-productive territory littered with heat, dust, and tumbleweed… a wasteland to progress.
It’s not true.
It is in boredom where restoration can happen, insights can emerge, problems and opportunities can be clearly seen, and experimentation can flourish.
Busy automatically cranks the volume knob to 10, boredom gives you control of the volume so you can think.
Boredom is not bad; it offers value, flexibility, and opportunity. Boredom provides opportunity for you to indulge in your thoughts, either good or bad.
Instead of asking “what should I do?” if and when boredom sets in, change your perspective to “what can I hear?” or “what can I see?” now that I have the wide-open space of boredom.
Your mind has a trainload of thoughts, and boredom is the train station for those thoughts to disembark and lounge for a while.
The second opportunity that emerges with boredom is a chance to revise your future destination.
We travel back and forth to Nigeria on a regular basis which usually requires four airports along the way. I follow a similar, subconscious routine at each airport reviewing my flight app to check boarding times, seat assignments, and the itinerary on the ground once we get there. Inevitably, sitting in the boredom of the airport terminal, a new idea that alters the itinerary will pop in my mind and brings with it some fresh ideas that I can breathe into the trip.
Every business should have a written, multi-page vision story, and that vision story will be tweaked (as opposed to wholesale changes) throughout the year as you have new insights in the context of the boredom spaces.
Boredom allows a business owner to re-evaluate and revise the written vision, drawing in a tighter and tighter focus on the final destination.
That vision may include doubling down on what you have already written. It may involve selling your business and starting something else. You may uncover a pivot in your business or personal life that you simply had not seen or heard prior because the distraction and volume were too loud.
The third thing you can do when you are bored as a business owner is to embrace the time and rest.
It is said that even God himself rested.
Probably an indication that we too should have moments of rest. Rest defined is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength”.
Rest can be reading a book, self converting a sprinter van, napping, writing, exercising, or just sitting and staring.
This is where you need to be mindful of where your rest leads you, and it is best to have someone else help hold you accountable to how you rest so you maximize that time for good, and not for backward movement.
Finally, when boredom hits you it’s ok to just sit still.
We undervalue stillness, silence, and solitude.
Thomas a’ Kempis said, “in silence the quiet soul makes progress”.
Dallas Willard has a modern spin on this idea in sharing that each of us “must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
A dear friend has been in a health battle for the past 9 months and he recently shared his journey meandering through the dark values of stage three Melanoma, in concert with severe kidney trauma.
His takeaway to the audience he was sharing with was not “woe is me”, but instead, “the world has forgotten the joy of silence.”
He has spent hours waiting in the last 9 months. Waiting on doctor’s appointments, waiting on prognosis calls, waiting on the next treatment…waiting.
As he has waited, he has been reminded of the power and gift of boredom.
If and when you get bored working on your business, don’t rush, don’t run, slow down…and listen.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.