3070-2941655917_cd7626cff3_m.jpgIn our discussion recently on “it’s easier to obtain than maintain“, we looked at how we deal with the everyday ‘boring’ work, considering most of us are type A, driven, motivation fuelled people.

One comment really stuck at as having a lot of gold in, from my dear friend Robin Dickinson. (It’s not the first time. He’s been doing this for a year now…)

Before I quote the comment and share my thoughts on what he said, it’s important to point out in the spirit of curation that Robin’s blog is the best self-focus and business development blog that I engage with, and also a model community for many to follow on what Robin and I call the ‘comment driven blog’.

Robin has innovated a few things on his blog. First of all, the comment driven blog post as mentioned above, 2 minute ‘Black Chair‘ videos, and more recently, the start of the Sharewords community through a blog post that has had over 1,000 comments. This blog post is in my opinion an internet phenomena, and a shining example of a value-based approach towards social media (and one that I follow.) I thoroughly recommend that you subscribe in your RSS and get acquainted with Robin on Twitter.

How A Master Maintains

The point is that Robin is someone who continually obtains – but is also the best I know at maintaining. So when he left this comment, and with such focus, I listened. Here it is (original link):

“what practical skills and tips have you learnt to keep things maintained?”

Quick list, in no particular order:

* Have a long-term plan (3-5 year horizon);
* Know what really pays the bills and stick to it;
* Have a life outside of work;
* Pace yourself;
* Know when and what to automate and delegate;
* Max-min key processes: design for maximum result for minimum effort;
* Measure and track key business indicators;
* Take full control of and responsibility for the numbers – the finances;
* Understand WHY you are doing what you do – have a solid rationale;
* Understand how to achieve and stay diamond focused on what really works.

My takeaways: there is balance here. Practically, I can see that Robin splits his days between obtaining new and maintaining the old, and I can see that when it comes to maintenance, he maintains the fun stuff and he maintains the essential and sometimes boring stuff too. The real winner is that he harnesses the power of a habit that has a strong focus.

Your Leading Thoughts

I’ll be honest with you – my daily routine has become a bit unbalanced as of late. When I’m in balance, I find I am far more productive, but out of balance I work harder but find I punching a lot of air and tend to be unfocussed and less productive even though I am working more.

  • How balanced are you? How so you balance obtaining with maintaining?
  • And how can we help each other to become more balanced?

Photo courtesy of han s’

Archived Comments

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    Thank you, Scott. You’re focus on balance here is so important.

    You’ve stimulated my thinking.

    It’s interesting to discuss this topic. In the context of personal and business growth, the word ‘harmony’ comes to mind. Nature has so much to teach us about systems that work. Harmony implies a natural order and effortless flow. Take the human body, for example. It’s an exquisite gestalt of interconnected systems. All finely tuned. All harmonised, perfectly. It all works without burden and struggle.

    Maintenance habits can flow from this natural harmony. This happens when we observe, understand and tune into our natural rhythms – our flow states – and synchronize *our* internal rhythm with our external actions.

    Example 1: My internal rhythm is slow and steady – calm. I’m a plodder. My external actions increasingly reflect this – not overloading my day; making sure I have a business model that frees up time rather than has me chasing my tail. I’m better at going deep than broad.

    Example 2: My internal rhythm is creative – I’m a day dreamer of sorts. Externally, I make sure my maintenance actions include daily drawing, composing, synthesizing etc. As in the body, these actions become autonomic rather than ‘when I have the time’.

    These are just two examples. Harmony is achieved when the inner me and my outer actions are in-synch. It’s almost the opposite of GTD thinking where different aspects of me get scheduled and prioritized. Imagine the body try to schedule your breathing or your pulse??

    Plenty for us to discuss here! ;)

    Your blog is a fertile ground for us all to step forward with our ideas and thoughts, Scott. Congratulations! You are a shining star!

    Best, Robin

  • http://twitter.com/98rosjon Jonny Rose

    Robin’s list is hugely comprehensive and I don’t think I could contribute any more in that department, however in answer to your second question:


    There is a growing trend at the moment of people dropping out and utilizing their personal skill-set to become ‘solopreneurs’ – the lone business warrior building an empire and conquering lands in the vast landscape of commerce. It is a lonely plight and one fraught with difficulty.

    Whilst most solopreneurs are not naive enough to have be unprepared for the road ahead, most seek counsel from friends/advisers at the beginning of the journey and rarely touch base afterwards. The effect – in the worst cases – is the stoic ‘I’ll do this by myself come what may’ attitude that eventually goes from suffering in silence whilst maintaining a moderate degree of success to eventually low-productivity and burnout.

    The remedy to this – to achieving *balance* – is by fostering business relationships which are mutually beneficial, sacrificial and, if needs be, remedial with others in the same position. But it will have to be a business relationship in which honesty and transparency are valued as well as ‘soulless’ attributes such as ‘ROI’ and ‘metrics’.

    Practically, I suggest if you wish to seek balance in your working life, you will need to develop an accountable relationship with a #likemind-ed person who is either at the same ‘level’ as you are, or ideally – higher. Essentially, get a mentor.

    However, If you wish to enjoy this at a more *communal* level, then fostering communities such as ‘LikeMinds’ is one step closer to creating a group of people who regulate, advise and take a *personal* interest in each other’s working life. You’re on the right path Scott!

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Robin

    First of all, thank you for being an important influencer and enabler!

    Secondly, thanks as always for the insights. My thoughts:

    1. I love your description of harmony. When we talk about balance, I often excuse myself into thinking that it’s ok to be unbalanced when the pressure is on. Whilst there is truth in this, in as much as at times we must work the 18 hour day, we must not live in continual imbalance.

    However when you say “Harmony”, and I then consider that my life right now is “unharmonious” I immediately see that I must rectify this. Unharmonious means it is making a bad noise and needs to be changed NOW!

    2. Rhythm. Good analogy – I’m understanding this more!

    3. GTD. Ok – so you slam the book that helped me – yet this is SO SO SO true. GTD would not be so necessary if I wasn’t so overloaded. Sure – the principles of GTD stand true and are useful, but the trick isn’t to become more organised, it is to straight out say NO to things in order to focus.

    This is really important.

    So, yes, there is plenty to discuss here!

    Skype is due… :-)


  • / Scott Gould


    You’re right – there is this massive growing group of solopreneurs (an incredible contradiction in terms, considering none of us get anything done by ourselves!)

    The business relationships that you say here are critical. My relationship with Robin, for instance, is in plain site. It’s a relationship that makes me, to be honest.

    Robin has no problem calling me on ROI and value :-)

    I have a few people like this who challenge me and help balance me.

    Who do you have?


  • http://twitter.com/98rosjon Jonny Rose

    My Mum.

    (And I’m not ashamed to admit it ha ha)

    But in a professional capacity, my problem is not so much balance as *guidance*. Thus, I’m not looking for someone to help balance me as such, but rather experienced people who are able to enable and empower me to go where I want in life.

    Whilst you and @andrewjdavies are not my mentors, I look to both of you for guidance and as examples to follow. Be proud :)

  • / Scott Gould

    I’m proud :-)

  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    Balance has always been my biggest issue. As someone who has never done a full forward roll (I always slope off to one side)…

    The key appears to be moving from being a passenger in the entrepreneurial cycle to the driver. What could I commit to?… and importantly: How do I ensure I stick to that commitment? Not for a week, not for a few days… but really stick to it?

    Read a great book called the 60 second motivator. It suggests something you are procrastinating is due to one of three things.

    1) Importance
    2) Confidence
    3) Knowledge.

    It has to pass those three gates to get done. If it’s not important to you, how do you reframe it, give it some context & make it important? If you don’t have the confidence, it doesn’t matter how important something is, you will retreat into your cave. Confidence is an elusive elixir, but one that is drastically improved via action and little victories. Break it up into really small tasks, and take action. Which leads to Knowledge. How do you break something into tasks? If you really don’t know this is where you need your network. Knowledge wants to be free. Start at Google & work towards the answer.

    Knowing the path & walking it are two very different things.

  • / Scott Gould


    Good build, I like this. Trouble is, what about distraction?


  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    That word again. Focus. Prioritising. Knowing what the number 1 priority is, and running order is tough, because it varies.Methinks I need a good planning & brainstorm.

  • / Scott Gould

    Me too… :-)