When building a structure, the first step is to build a strong foundation. Buildings built on weak foundations crumble. Maybe not immediately but over time. And usually at the worst possible time. Now before you go and say it’s due to bad luck that your structure crumbled during the worst possible time keep in mind that it’s predictable and there’s a good reason behind it. What is the worst possible time? A time of a lot of stress. Do you know what stress does? It tests your weak spots. If you did not build a strong foundation then by definition your foundation is a weak spot. But to make matters worse, if your foundation cracks and breaks everything built on top of it falls down.
But not only is a strong foundation the basis of everything that you do, it has additional benefits. Here’s just one example: knowing that you have a strong foundation reduces not only your cognitive stress levels but also the little stress throughout your life that you may not notice.
It’s like driving your car and having everything run smoothly. When your car runs smoothly you don’t notice it because you can focus on the other tasks of driving. Now imagine if you can hear a little noise that shouldn’t be there. It does not mean your car is about to break down but it’s something that shouldn’t be there and that nags you at the back of the brain. How do you solve it? You fix whatever is making that noise.
Same thing in life. You have a lot of things on your mind. There’s your health, your business, your career, your family, your friends, your own basic survival. When something in one of these (or other) parts of our lives aren’t running smoothly, even if it’s not something huge, it’s still a nagging feeling. That nagging feeling is what creates constant low levels of stress.
So building a strong foundation is important in life and in business. And it certainly sounds good so go forth and build it. Ah… now we come to the crux of it. Can you define what is a strong foundation? Most people can’t. To them it’s just a buzzword. So how can you build something if you don’t know how to define it? The answer: You can’t. The first step then is to define what is your foundation in life and in business.
Think of your foundation as the basic requirements. In life the two most basic requirements are food and shelter. Once those two are taken care of, then your emotional and mental well being also come into play. Of course you may have dependents on you in which case their well being is also your responsibility. On top of those, you can add other needs and more and more and more. And now you’ve lost what is the foundation. To make it simple – your foundation is the absolute bare minimum. Not the luxuries and not the wants. The needs. Only the needs. Go back to your list and ask yourself – can you live without x, y and z? If the answer is yes – then take it off. If the answer is maybe – then take it off. If the answer is no – ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t have it. Usually, you’ll see that life may not be as comfortable, it may not be as nice, but it is still doable. Are we talking here about managing with just the bare bone essentials? The answer is yes. That is your foundation.
In your job, the foundation is the minimum requirement of what you need to do to keep your job.
In business, the foundation is the minimum requirements to keep your business running.
This may seem as being lazy but you would be wrong. I do not say that you shouldn’t do anything above these basic tasks. If you want to advance whether in life or in business, you will need to do more. But knowing what the basic requirements are is very important for two reasons.
The first reason is that you need to know what you can afford to drop and what you absolutely cannot drop in times of stress and extreme circumstances.
The second reason, is that in order to be able to free yourself mentally to focus on the activities that will help you thrive, you first need to know that you have systems and redundancies in place to take care of your life’s foundations.
It’s nice to be able to dream and think of your goals and plan how you’ll achieve them. But that’s the next step in life and in business. First, you need to get yourself and your business together and build a really strong foundation.