Spinning So Many Plates at the Same Time Can Make You Dizzy

It’s Up to You How Many You Spin

This title might seem familiar, and it should. I used a very similar one for a post in March of 2018. That post’s focus was on trying to run a business without a plan.

This post is going to address a different question that has been coming up in almost every construction conversation I’ve had over the past several weeks. These discussions have been with other contractors, sub-contractors, my team, customers, and even with people in other industries. This is not a new topic but seems to be reaching an increased ‘plate breaking’ point.

Most of us have seen plate spinning acts in some form or another. When I was growing up, I remember seeing Erich Brenn performing his plate spinning act on the popular Ed Sullivan Show. I remember him running back and forth, trying to keep all the different plates spinning at the same time. It was amazing. (Be sure to watch this video)

I’ll bet you’ve felt just like him.

Most businesses are operated in a way that feels a lot like trying to keep all those plates spinning at the same time. Just like the performer who keeps putting more and more spinning plates up on the end of sticks, we keep trying to do more and more.

There is a limit to how much we can do. We can only run back and forth keeping the plates spinning for so long before they start falling and breaking. This means there is a maximum number of people that we can provide service to, before things begin falling around us.

Why do we continually keep adding more plates?

That is the million-dollar question. There seems to be some inherent traits that self-employed people are born with that causes us to continually take on more. I believe that it is directly connected to having a servant’s heart. We have a God given talent that someone needs the benefit of. We instinctively say yes to help those in need of it.

The problem of course, is that there is a limit. A limit to how much we can do, to the amount of time we have each day, to the number of people we can help. And we instinctively know this. When we say yes to that next thing, the voice inside our head says, “How are you going to do that?”. We shrug our shoulders and say yes anyway.

Trying to do everything makes it hard to do anything well.

This is a problem that has been around as long as people have. The question is…What are we going to do about it? How are we going to get this plate spinning madness under control? I keep asking myself this question over and over.

The answer to this question is inside each of us and there are as many answers as there are people asking the question. The answer starts with realizing the problem and recognizing that we have control over it. We can choose to answer it or pretend it doesn’t exist and keep spinning more and more plates.

This is where things begin to get tricky. Looking for and figuring out your answer, the one that is exclusively yours, takes time. I know that you are already too busy spinning plates to add another.

If you don’t spin this plate you will never keep the rest spinning.

My Hope Is in God…Not in the World

This Includes Technology 😊

The world around us is amazing. The things we can do with computers and smart phones today was the things of imagination fifty years ago. But these things are limited, like every other worldly thing.

If we put our faith in worldly things, we will be disappointed.

This past week’s church service had some “technical difficulties”. This left some gaps in the message, which I think speaks directly to the message. We so often put our faith in the things rather than God.

This doesn’t mean that we should let the difficulties of the world get us down. This pain we go through is like the pain of childbirth. The reward on the other side of the pain, makes the pain worth it. Romans 8:12-25

We can choose whether our focus will be on despair or hope.

There was a family that had a father and son both working in a coal mine. There was an explosion, the father was killed, and the son maimed. The family choose to focus on hope rather than despair. They were so serious about this that they changed their last name to Sperondeo, which means, “my hope is in God”. The son went on to do amazing things with his life.

Faith in God is more than blind hope. It is trusting in something bigger than yourself. It is the act of believing and trusting God. This kind of hope is like breath is to life. As long as we have hope, life is worth living. We are not alone. Hope in Christ is the secret ingredient to life

Put your hope in God…not in the world!

It’s Important to Have the Right Tool for the Job

And There’s More to the Right Tool Than Meets the Eye

For those of you that remember the TV sitcom “Home Improvement” you’ll remember Tim ‘the Tool Man’s’ attempts to give everything from cars to household appliances “more power” and the infamous ‘grunts’ that accompanied this.

There’s something primal in finding a new tool and learning to use it.

You’ve heard it said that, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”, which I agree works pretty well. However, I would argue that an even better way is…give him a new power tool.

There is a tool out there for every job and often times more than one. As cool as tools are, they’re worthless if you don’t have them, don’t know how to use them and then actually do so.

The biggest “tool” problem is…the lack of “business system tools”.

Most “construction guys” would prefer to use a circular saw or screw gun rather than a computer. Paperwork usually isn’t what they think of when considering tools.

One of the most important tools in the “construction tool” arsenal is paperwork. Profitability and the success of the company hinges on the accuracy and knowledge of income and expenses. It requires having the right tools, knowing how to use them and then actually doing so. 

One such tool is the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system. Early on I had no system for doing proposals and like most contractors I guessed. That’s when I decided that I had had enough and developed a system that took the guess work out of proposals. I’ve been using and refining this Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal for more than 25 years. You can use this same tool by purchasing the downloadable system (complete with templates, instructions, and examples). This way you can stop rolling the dice with your profits and take control of your money and your business.

In talking with construction companies about the bidding process they all see the benefits of having a system but can’t see the value for the price. These same people wouldn’t think twice about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy cordless tool kits or pneumatic nail guns and compressors, not to mention the price of skid loaders.

The real question is value…not price.

When considering tools, you should consider the return on your investment. Those power tools that you purchase are going to wear out over time and need to be replaced. The Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal won’t. You can purchase the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal for less than the price of a good quality cordless tool kit and the return on that investment is priceless.

Having the right tools, knowing how to use them, and then actually doing so can be the difference of having a successful company or giving up and going out of business.

You’ve never been afraid to get a new power tool and learn how to use it.

Don’t be afraid to get a new “proposal power tool” and learn to use it either.

What Would You Pay to Have Lunch with God?

And What Would That Be Worth?

People have paid over $4,000,000.00 to have lunch with Warren Buffet. This money goes to a charity in San Francisco to help the poor, homeless and people struggling with substance abuse. The winning bidder and seven friends get to eat a meal with Mr. Buffet at what time he will discuss anything with them apart from his next investments.

How much would you pay to have lunch with God?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure, and then he hid it in the field again. He was so happy that he went and sold everything he owned to buy that field.” Matthew 13:44-46

What would the Kingdom of Heaven be worth to you?

We get so entrenched in the daily routine of living our lives that too often we forget to step back and take stock of what we’re investing in. Life will take over if we let it. We think we can do everything ourselves.

A lady in an accident was trapped in her car precariously hanging over the edge of a bridge. As the rescuers tried to stabilize the vehicle and get her out, she kept yelling, “I’ll do it myself.”

Isn’t this how we approach our lives most of the time?

Where we put the most value is where our hearts are. Luke 12:34

Author Catherine Marshall spent years in bed after contracting tuberculosis in 1940. As she struggled with the illness, she couldn’t understand how God would let something like this happen. She longed for a better relationship with God and decided to give God complete control. She made a promise to God to …“do whatever You tell me.” She got well and lived her life well.

We need to constantly step back and take an inventory of our lives.

What would it be worth to you to have lunch with God every day?

The Difficulties of Doing Things You Don’t Know How To

What to Do When Faced with Something You’ve Never Been Taught

When faced with things that we aren’t proficient in, there’s really only three options.

  • Attempt to do it ourselves
  • Hire a professional
  • Close our eyes and pretend like it’s not happening

There are variations of these, but ultimately these are the three choices.

We all have our own areas of expertise and skill. I don’t know about you, but mine isn’t marketing. Marketing is defined as “the activity and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to market with goods for sale.

As entrepreneurs we tend to be of the mindset that we can figure “it” out whatever “it” is.

I know this is certainly my default approach to obstacles. An “I’ve got this” attitude can be an asset…it can also be a liability. It’s great to learn new things and I like knowing how things work. This learning comes at a cost.

In my forty plus years of doing construction I’ve learned a lot about building, both physical construction and how to operate a successful business. One of the things that I’ve never needed to know much about is marketing. When doing quality work and taking care of customers, word of mouth is marketing enough.

Whether it’s time or money, there’s a cost.

Now that we’re expanding our business to include business coaching, systems and training as well as customer consulting and educating, we need some marketing.

For several years I’ve been working on this. Trying to learn how while not spending any money. Then I spent a little money here and there on programs that I thought might be the trick with still no traction.

After years of very little forward progress, earlier this year I decided that I had “closed my eyes and pretended like it’s wasn’t important” for long enough.

At that point I began investing in myself and my idea. I started by joining Kingdom Builders Mastermind. It’s not cheap. In that mastermind I met Bryan Switalski who is a digital marketer using the Story Brand system which I had already been working to learn. I’ve hired him to help me with a lead generator and some sales funnel work. Through Bryan and Becky Warner another mastermind member. I found out they along with Dean Kaneshiro were getting ready to start a 90-Day Launch course. Designed to get a product to market in 90 days.  

This is a substantial investment of time and money, but

What has it cost me in the time over the last 6-7 years and I haven’t sold anything yet?

I realized as I was going through this process to improve my marketing, that the same reasons that I hadn’t moved forward sooner, are the same reasons construction companies don’t do accurate and consistent proposals.

They never learned how.

They’ve either came up with a “guess-timation” way of giving customers prices or they’ve “closed their eyes and pretended it’s not important”. Either way the outcome isn’t very good.

This is precisely why I designed the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal system. The peace of mind and lack of stress alone is worth the investment of time and money.

Weeds Have a Big Impact on the Harvest

It’s Best if They’re Pulled Before They Get Too Big

Last week we talked about the importance of the seed and the ground on which it’s planted. This week is another farming analogy. This time it’s about weeds and the damage they do. Jesus tells a story of weeds growing in wheat in Matthew 13:24-30.

In this story a man had a field of wheat planted and his enemy snuck in and planted weeds. By the time the weeds were noticed they were too big to pull without damaging the crop. The farmer told his help to wait until harvest time and then they would separate the weeds from the wheat.

This reminds me of a story when I was young. Dad had a field of soybeans that had some wild cane growing in amongst the crop. The problem was that by the time the cane was discovered both the crop and the weeds were too big to spray. So, we took some corn knives (a big machete) and started chopping. Thankfully the field was only 25 or 30 acres, but it took days and days of Dad, Grandpa, my younger brother and me, walking down each row and cutting weeds out of the beans.

Removing weeds is a painful process.

We all have weeds sprout up in our lives. The important thing to do is pay attention and remove them early. We have an internal weed sensor called a conscience. This allows us to sense the weed when it’s still a seed. It’s much better if we get rid of those weeds before they get big.

When weeds get big enough to recognize it’s too late to pull them.

 Don’t wait too long to clean the weeds from your life.

How to Make Wise Business Decisions

Having a DeLorean Time Machine Would be Helpful

I’ve been fighting more dragons than normal over the last few weeks. When speaking of dragons, I’m referring to the business difficulties and struggles that seem to come in herds or clans. (This is one name for a group of dragons)

Throughout my years of being in construction I have witnessed the gap between construction companies and customers. To narrow this gap construction companies need better business systems and customers need to have the process explained.

Narrowing this gap is the reason for Solution Building.

This onslaught of dragons is the culmination of the Timber Creek Construction production workload and trying to find time to build the business in coaching and consulting. This sense of overload has pushed me to consider what things on the long list should be given the priority spot.

As I have discussed this topic with different people one of the questions that continued to come up was…How important are your blog posts, currently, to moving things toward the goal? That is the question.

How important are these posts to you subscribers?

So –

If you read this post clear through, let me know in the comments below.

If you like getting these posts weekly, let me know in the comments below.

If there are things you like or dislike about my writing, subjects or post schedule, let me know in the comment below.

Life Is in the Seed, Not in You

A Small Amount of Grain Can Produce an Enormous Harvest

Having grown up farming, I love Jesus’ analogy of planting and harvest. Not only is it a great comparison it is important. It’s in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Like anything important God is going to repeat it.

In Matthew 13:1-9 Jesus tells the story of a farmer planting. Some of the seeds fell on the road and the birds ate it. “…some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and ate it all up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much dirt. That seed grew very fast, because the ground was not deep. But when the sun rose, the plants dried up, because they did not have deep roots. Some other seed fell among thorny weeds, which grew and choked the good plants. Some other seed fell on good ground where it grew and produced a crop. Some plants made a hundred times more, some made sixty times more, and some made thirty times more.”

If you have ever planted anything you can identify with this.

Jesus goes on to explain the story and what it means in verses 18-23, “What is the seed that fell by the road? That seed is like the person who hears the message about the kingdom but does not understand it. The Evil One comes and takes away what was planted in that person’s heart. And what is the seed that fell on rocky ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and quickly accepts it with joy. But he does not let the teaching go deep into his life, so he keeps it only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching he accepted, he quickly gives up. And what is the seed that fell among the thorny weeds? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching but lets worries about this life and the temptation of wealth stop that teaching from growing. So the teaching does not produce fruit in that person’s life. But what is the seed that fell on the good ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and understands it. That person grows and produces fruit, sometimes a hundred times more, sometimes sixty times more, and sometimes thirty times more.”

This is a message that doesn’t need any explaining it just needs implementing.

Every day we are planting seeds with things we say and do. We never know what the harvest will be from the seeds we plant.

Be sure you are planting the right seeds!

Negative Communication Can Be the Most Positive

Saying No Is Hard, But Often the Best Answer

Just Say NO was an anti-drug advertising campaign from the 1980s. This campaign was aimed at discouraging children from engaging in illegal drug use by offering various ways to say no. Saying no is hard to do in all sorts of situations not just drugs.

We need to initiate a “Just Say NO” campaign for other things to.

“No” is one of the first words we learn. Two-year-olds are famous for saying “no”. They use this word more than any other. It’s an easy word to say and at two, they’ve heard it as much or more than most. These toddlers are on to something; it’s okay to say NO!

As we mature, we are looking for acceptance and inclusion. One of the ways to avoid being left out is to say yes to everything. I think this is where the problem with saying “no” starts.

Not only is “no” one of the first words we learn, it’s also one of the first words we forget.

As adults we continue to want to be accepted and continue saying yes. This week one of the things on my mastermind accountability list is: Say no to at least one thing that I would normally say yes to. As I thought more about this, I realized I had written about this several times. Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote late in 2019 discussing this topic of saying “no”.

We can’t DO everything.

Our natural desire to help others is a big driving force behind too many yes’s. There are so many people with so many needs. A servant’s heart leads us to over promise. This can be controlled, but it requires intentional actions. Especially in business, we don’t want to say no to any potential opportunity. Too many yes’s is not a good way to treat customers. Trying to be everything to everybody isn’t a good business plan.

The big question is how do I know what to say yes to?

This is definitely a big question and one that’s hard to answer. As we begin to approach the end of 2019, I’m beginning to think about 2020 and all the things I want to do. As I think through the list it becomes clear that clarity is needed.

Focusing on the right yes’s is going to be my goal for 2020. After all, 2020 is perfect vision. It isn’t going to be easy, but it can be done. It will require a clear plan of what the highest priorities are and removing things from the list that don’t qualify.

Here we are, half way through the year and I don’t feel that I’ve done a very good job of being clear on my yes’s and saying no. I can’t change the past only the future. The process of growing and improving is a never ending one and we will never be perfect at it this side of heaven.

I can either quit trying or keep working at getting better.

A few weeks ago, in one of our mastermind meetings Ray Edwards said something that I’ve heard several times before but sums this up well.

“You can do ANYTHING you want; you just can’t do EVERYTHING you want.”

What am I going to say “NO” to this week?

What are you going to say “NO” to this week?

Share your “NOs” in the comments below.

Why Do I Not Do the Things I Want To?

And on Top of That, Do the Things That I Don’t Want to

This is a mystery as old as time. We all find ourselves doing those things that we tell ourselves we won’t do. And then, turn around and don’t do the things we said we would. Paul discusses this very thing, in Romans 7:14-25.

We are often tempted to do things that may not be the smartest or wisest.

Fishing for Bluefin Tuna is one of these things. These fish can reach weights of almost 1500 lbs. and grow to nearly 13 ft. long. There are stories of these huge fish tipping over and sinking boats. In addition to the lure of catching these big trophies is the enticement of money.

While most Bluefin Tuna sell for $20 – $40 per pound in your local grocery store, there are cases of them selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars for one fish. The most expensive one sold for 3.1 million dollars in 2019. It was purchased by Japanese sushi restaurant owner Kiyoshi Kimura.

Temptation is like this. The desire to catch the big one can pull us under.

Temptation is a battle we fight continuously. We know when we’re tempted to do things that we shouldn’t. It comes down to a battle of our desires. It’s up to us to choose to do the right thing or not.

For a man to conquer himself is the greatest of all virtues.

We have the power to control our desires and actions. Let’s look at this using the example of a phone call. We have all experienced two people in an argument yelling at each other when the phone rings. Like the flip of a switch the person answering the phone is as calm and polite as can be. We have the control; we just have to decide if we’ll use it.

It is possible to accomplish what we want if we have a clear plan to achieve it. This includes developing habits and routines that move us toward where we want to go, not way from it. We need to have established habits that become our default response.

Willpower is more important to success than talent.

Habits, routines and willpower all sound great, but can be hard. The best model I’ve found for teaching me these things is my Chief Executive Officer. His name is God. He is the most senior administrative officer in charge of managing my life. I have a Divine Ally in God. You can too if you will just add Him to your team.

Alone we will continue to do the things we don’t want to and not do the things we do. Doing the right things can seem heavy but the alternative weighs more.

Discipline weighs ounces…regret weighs tons.