Professional Speakers: Building Your Business Without Working More

Written by Dr. Peter Legge, LL.D. (Hon), CSP, CPAE, HoF Author & Professional Speaker

Building your business without working more is a bit of an oxymoron. After all, the very process of building a business requires long hours and hard work. However, the process should not be to the detriment to your family, health or personal life. Working more means spending the hours wisely ­ concentrating your efforts on the things that are really important, including devoting some of your time to making a difference in the world.

So, where do we begin? Well, I believe it all begins with recognizing your talents and using them ­ a lesson I uncovered near the end of a book that my children gave me for Father’s Day ­ Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History. Clinton wrote that she was wondering if she should run for Senator for the State of New York. As she agonized over the difficult decision she received a letter from her friend, Father Tribou, who wrote:

“Dear Hillary: I want to tell you what I have been telling students for 50 years. It is my opinion on Judgment Day that the first question God asks is not about the Ten Commandments (although he gets to that later) but he asks each of us this; ‘What did you do with the time and the talents I gave you?’ Bottom line, Hillary ­ run!” Signed Father Tribou.

Hillary Clinton did run for office and won. Father Tribou reminds us of our responsibility to identify and develop our talents. That same wisdom is reflected in the words of Denis Waitley, who said, “We are all born with the seeds of greatness.” All of us possess potential, however, it is up to us to plant and nurture those seeds of possibility.

We as professional speakers are indeed fortunate to be working in a world where there is a growing demand for those whose talents lie in motivating and inspiring others. Bill Emmett, editor of The Economist and author of the best-selling book 2021, asserts that the world is in better shape today than it has ever been and that it is improving by the minute. Why? Because most people want to be more successful at their careers and are committed to improving their social situation.

It is part of our role as professional speakers to be the champions of the possibilities life has to offer. In fact, encouraging, inspiring and guiding people along the path to building a better life are central themes of most presentations from the platform. While few would argue that a career as a professional speaker is interesting and rewarding, there is a cost, because as we improve and enjoy greater success in our chosen profession, we are naturally asked to do more speaking. Perhaps Walt Disney summed up the ramping-up effect of success best when he said, “Do what you do so well so that when other people see what it is you do they will want to see you do it again and they will bring others with them to show them what it is that you do.”

So how do you build your business without necessarily working more?

It is important to begin by acknowledging the fact that successful people do work long hours ­ it is unavoidable. That said, however, it is what you do with that time that is important. To that end, I believe the key to achieving more without necessarily working more is establishing balance in your life ­ and also in your own character. You don’t want to be so single-minded in purpose that you forsake everything else in your life. You don’t want to be so rich and have such a negative attitude that nobody wants to live with you. Nor do you want to be so poor that you spend all your time worrying about the mortgage and putting food on the table. No matter what kind of hours you work, strive for balance in your life. Make time for work, play, friends, family and time for you.

It simply isn’t possible do everything, so it is critical that you prioritize what is important. Further, I think, it is vital that you recognize your most significant gifts and that you focus on developing them. Remember, there are only 24 hours in the day. Commit your available time to developing your best abilities and guard against wasting precious hours on areas that are no longer viable. You will be more productive when you train your energies on using your very best talents.

Silent income from books, booklets, tapes and articles can reduce your workload, however, the better you become as a professional speaker, the more in demand you will become, which brings me back to the critical importance of balance. If you can learn that all your work is not really work but an adventure in living, you can build your business and your life side by side.

I don’t believe we can be successful unless other people want us to be, and I also don’t believe we can maximize our potential by working from nine to five. Most successful business leaders work 60 to 85 hours a week. So better enjoy what you do. Remember Father Tribou ­”What did you do with the time and talents I gave you?” How do you answer this question?

Peter Legge is a member of Speakers Roundtable with Patricia Fripp and one of Canada’s greatest philanthropists and most in-demand speakers:

© Copyright Peter Legge

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