"Rules" for Intention and Success by Shawn Freeman

Shawn Freeman is a personable geek with a wildly successful IT services company in Calgary - TWT Group. I met Shawn last year, an encounter sparked by our connection through Social Media. Shawn became a friend and we have looked for ways to support and encourage each other ever since. I am honored to feature Shawn as my guest blogger today. 

Find him here:

Here are Shawn’s tips for living a life and running a business with grit and passion. 

Stop doing things just because you think you should

This is how you can start to live intentionally. It’s likely there’s something you do every day that you only do because it’s considered normal or expected. Maybe you hate doing that thing. Continuing to do that thing will keep you average. I hated working a 9-5 job, even though that’s what most people do and that’s what I was expected to do. I had to stop doing it because it just wasn’t right. 

If you stop doing things you hate, which waste time, you’ll find you suddenly have the space in your day to chase your passion. Start filling your days with intentional activities. 

Prioritize and try new things — constantly

I believe I’m successful because I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and do the work. Ideas are great, but if you aren’t willing to get past the fear of failure and work your tail off, then you’ll just get stuck in a cycle of analysis paralysis.  

You can relieve this paralysis in part by always prioritizing. As a business owner, you need to do the things that bring in profits, not the things that make your offering prettier. Something I’ve struggled with is coming up with the perfect quote template. It never seems perfect to me and every one I do changes and gets better, but I haven’t had enough time to create that final finished product. 

But I’m not sure having the perfect quote template will even help me make more money. I’ve realized it’s useful for me to have it partially templated, with room for me to tailor it to each specific client. 

If you don’t know the answer to something, find someone who does. Never stop asking questions. You won’t look dumb, you’ll just keep learning. 

Set rules for your day

Here are mine:

1. I don’t have meetings before 10 a.m. Why? I’m not a morning person but I cherish my morning routine. I get up, make coffee (I check my email while it’s brewing), walk my dog and then head out for my first meeting. 

2. I sit down in the evening and plan out the next few days. I make sure to plan to exercise if it’s not already in my calendar. I also use the evening to address non-urgent work I’ve put off (I do that on purpose). I also make sure to have a good dinner and take my dog for another walk. 

3. I try to always have lunch with someone. I got this idea from Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone.

4. Get lots of sleep. I’m no good when I’m tired. I need at least seven hours and never less. 

Chasing your passion will come with perks (but that will mean different things to different people).

I have a lot of flexibility and freedom to do what I want, when I want, which are rare things I’ve managed to create. Sure, I can’t go out and buy a $10-million yacht, but I can go live in NYC for a few months and my clients wouldn’t notice (thanks to the wonders of technology). This is what I love. Find out what you’d love to have in your life and chase that.

Don’t be fooled by how something looks from the outside

It may look easy from the outside, but I’m working and pushing and sweating and failing every single day, and you won’t always see that. I have failed many times. In business, I find it’s best not to take things personally when they don’t work out. Instead, try to learn from them. 

Often when you don’t succeed you know what you could have done differently. If you can’t figure it out, ask for feedback. You may avoid failing the second (or third or fourth) time you try.

Not succeeding in the short term can be even more important long term than if everything came easy to you. You just need to remember that during those tough times when you feel like you’ve failed. We all fail. Just don’t quit.