Contentment has been a recurring theme in my conversations with agency leaders since about November, I’d say. This topic is one that I like to keep top of mind in my own pursuits because contentment is the only way to actually achieve a measure of success in any arena of your life.
If you have not defined an end point, a point at which you have accomplished what you set out to do, there is a high probability that you will never feel as though you’ve “made it.”
You may feel as though you must keep striving to keep up with the ever changing business landscape.
You may always look up to see another mountain that needs conquered.
You may never feel successful.
When a person doesn’t feel successful, it’s easier for them to pursue more stuff, a bigger bank account balance, more accolades, more clients, more employees, more business partnerships, more speaking gigs, more, more more. It’s easier to feel tossed around with the seas of change and become consumed by urgent matters that aren’t actually important in the grand scheme of our time on this earth.
What you’ll find, eventually, is that more of those things isn’t much after all.
More isn’t better.
Better is better.
The book, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, by John Ortberg is a great read to get you started on this thought process. Consider the following [anti] inspirational quotes John Ortberg compiled:
“The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.” – W.H. Vanderbuilt
“I am the most miserable man on earth.” – J.J. Astor
“I have made millions, but they have brought me no happiness.” – J.D. Rockefeller
“Millionaires seldom smile.” – Andrew Carnegie
“I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job.” – Henry Ford
I clearly remember an exchange from several years ago with the founder of an agency that, by all outward definitions of the term, would have been coined a success. We were sitting at his agency’s conference table and I asked him at what point he would have enough. He could have answered in a number of ways, such as net profit, annual revenue, client count, team size, products sold, accolades, or a personal metric unrelated to his agency, but he didn’t respond in any of those ways. He instead touted that he didn’t think there would ever be enough and that he’d always be striving for more. My heart broke a little for him in that moment.
How might you find contentment for your agency and within your life? I don’t have a one size fits all process to share, and it’s not an overnight kind of process, but here’s where you may consider starting:
- Seek wisdom from your Maker, spouse, family, friends, mentors, employees, business partners, and other trusted advisors.
- Create time and space for an introspective reality check; after all, you’re not guaranteed your next breath.
- Determine what you want to be remembered for. Do you wish to be remembered for doing something or for being someone?
- Decide what your measure of “enough” is in life and in your business. Make it concrete.
- Take a lesson from your dog. Dogs are a great example of how to be content, enjoy the moment, and still know how to accomplish an objective.
I can give you a handful of examples of finding contentment in your agency as well.
A few months ago, I was speaking with one of my clients about this topic. Their agency culture is one where they don’t feel the need to work for work’s sake and the owner’s goal is to have enough monthly revenue to pass the business off well and take care of his family. This being the case, the team determined exactly how many retainer clients they needed at what monthly rates in order to sustain their business and not be so stressed they would no longer enjoy working together. Then they worked backwards to determine how many new customers were needed based on current revenues and base rates of client attrition. From there, calculations could be completed for how many leads were needed and the volume of activities necessary with their goal in mind.
Another example: The other day, one of my peers shared her goals to find contentment and get off the “striving” hamster wheel that she no longer feels is getting her anywhere. She’s ready to be walking on a path that has a destination even though the finer details of that objective are still being considered.
For me, the measure of contentment in my business is to directly aid 27 marketing and creative agencies to become resilient; to facilitate community and referrals between 270 agencies; and to influence positive change for 2,700 individuals, agency leaders, creatives, and employees.
What this allows me to do is multi-faceted.
- It sets a framework within which I can pace myself.
- It gives me permission to say, “No,” to distractions disguised as opportunities and affords me a path to focus on.
- It helps me design my service offerings and income goals accordingly.
- It gives me permission to refer leads that aren’t perfect fits to others and still achieve my mission.
- It keeps me from investing in business development activities that I may just abandon later, if not for the mission I’m on.
- It gives me permission to keep my operation small (but mighty) without feeling judged by outsiders.
- It gives me permission to do something completely different after I’ve succeeded without feeling like I HAVE to keep doing what I have been doing.
Your measure of success is going to look different and may be a highly ambitious objective that includes lots of zero’s at the end of it; that can be a very good thing! Just give yourself permission to find a point to be content, in your agency and within your personal life, in order that you can truly be successful as a whole.
Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.
Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?
I’d be happy to help.