Unlocking Your Business Potential

By Julie Knudson | Posted January 07, 2014

Myriad tasks and pressures can sometimes prevent small business owners from getting into a groove and making meaningful progress towards their goals. Is it really possible to reach your full potential with all the things on your plate today? Just ask John Shufeldt. He has a medical degree, a law degree and a business degree. He is a practicing emergency physician, a professor, a pilot, a member of a SWAT team and a successful business owner.

Given his accomplishments in so many fields, it's no surprise that Shufeldt also authored a book, Ingredients of Outliers: A Recipe for Personal Achievement, about unlocking the key to extraordinary personal performance. As principal of Shufeldt Consulting, LLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a business owner himself, Shufeldt offers proven and practical strategies for others who want to tap into their own abilities and achieve their goals.

4 Strategies for Personal And Professional Growth

Basic checklists

The first step to unlocking your potential for great performance isn't fancy or complicated. It's simply to make checklists part of your regular habit. Shufeldt says this strategy can pay tremendous dividends. "I've found over the years that people sometimes forget very obvious things," he explains. It's the reason even the most experienced airline pilots still diligently go through a checklist before every flight.

"Despite the fact that you may be super competent, you can forget simple things," Shufeldt says. Checklists will help you remember what you've already done, what's still left to do, and all the little tasks in between.

Know your purpose

With everything Shufeldt has on his radar, his response when asked what he does is surprisingly simple. "I take care of people," he says. Before charting a path to success, Shufeldt says it's necessary to "figure out what's important and why you're here in the first place."

It's not only a way to get started, but also an important strategy to keep you going when things get tough. And for emergency physicians, things can get very tough indeed. "A child drowning or giving somebody really bad news—I never want to do that," Shufeldt says. But those things are part of an otherwise extremely rewarding job.

Small business owners will also face difficult times, and focusing on why you put yourself through all this angst will keep you moving forward. "They've got to go back to the reason why they started in the first place," Shufeldt explains.

Keep the right perspective

You know those days when you jump out of bed all fired up? That's the kind of perspective small business owners should try to cultivate on a regular basis. Shufeldt often deals with life or death situations. That may not be precisely the way most small business owners frame their day, but he says it still provides a valuable perspective.

"You're here because you want to be here, and you should be enjoying it, even during times of strife," he explains. A lot of behind-the-scenes hard work got Shufeldt where he is, with many successes and setbacks. Appreciate the journey—despite the bumps in the road—and enjoy it for the fun that it is. With that perspective, it's easier to tackle challenges and have the energy for difficult tasks.

Learn, learn and then learn some more

Shufeldt enjoys learning new things, and he has seen how education, both formal and informal, opens up new opportunities. He likens each class or fresh piece of knowledge gained to putting on a new pair of glasses. "I'll look at the same problem I've been looking at for maybe weeks or months, and I'll say, ‘Holy cow, this was staring me right in the face. How did I miss this?' It's because education allows you to see a different angle."

Each new piece of information gives you more insight on all the other things going on within your business. Lectures on tape, in-person seminars and lots of reading are all ways to fit learning into your life. You never know where that newfound wisdom may lead.

Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.

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