As last episode ended, I pitched the idea that we should surround ourselves with people who are smarter than ourselves. These exceptional people fill in our gaps and challenge us to grow. I still want to cover this topic, and we will return to regularly scheduled content soon. I promise.
I realized it seems appropriate to take a slight detour, because more than ever, the past few weeks of my life have shown me how outsourcing lets us handle whatever life throws at us. We’ve had a bit of the unexpected at the Luther house, and I’d like to share some of that with you in this episode, because there are benefits of outsourcing that are somewhat difficult to verbalize. I think some real-life examples of how I’ve handled emergencies or the unexpected will show some of the intangible benefit of outsourcing in ways I’ve not been able to explain. I think you’ll get what I mean, so I’ll just sort of dive right in.
As we’ve all seen, Life can hit hard. No matter who you are, life doesn’t always work out how you anticipated. We can’t always plan on the future and what circumstances life is going to throw at us. Right? Now, when I take a step back and look at my life objectively, I’m able to see that I’m quite privileged. I’ll be the first to admit I have a wonderful life, but that doesn’t mean life won’t come at me with a curveball or two. And I’ve experienced my fair share of unexpected circumstances or disappointments. But what’s clear to me now, is that I’m able to dodge the unpredictable much better than in the past; and when I can’t move out of the way, because that’s not always a possibility, I’m able to navigate it more easily and take it in stride, because of my remote team of virtual assistants.
As I mentioned, in the past few weeks, my family has experienced a few unforeseen circumstances, but I realized they minimally affected the day to day of my business. When I compared that to 10 years ago, I couldn’t help but realize it’s due to the true value and benefits of outsourcing.
When one of my kids was just a toddler, it was pointed out that they seemed to have a lazy eye. Somehow, I never noticed. I mean, I saw them every day, and that slight misalignment of their eye was normal to me. Of course, once it was pointed out I couldn’t not see it. I’m sure you know what I mean. Something so slight becomes quite obvious after you notice it, and you just can’t unsee it.
Now, I’m pretty chill when it comes to medical emergencies. My husband goes into protective husband father mode, so he stresses a bit more than I do. Me, I tend to find comfort in knowledge and a plan. I reached out to our pediatrician to explain what we were seeing, and she immediately referred us to Children’s hospital for an evaluation.
A lazy eye is a pretty routine thing and easy to correct, so I wasn’t too concerned, and – Sorry – I know you’re thinking, “What does this have to do with outsourcing and business?” Well, we’re getting there. You see, this was before I learned how to outsource, so it was me, myself and I running the show at Check Off Your List. I had a networking meeting that I hosted on behalf of a client, and it was scheduled immediately after the eye appointment. No biggie, you’d think. But I bet you can guess that the routine eye appointment ended up not so routine. It wasn’t a lazy eye. Come to find out, that child is blind in one eye. The eye wasn’t fully aligning and tracking with the other eye, because that eye wasn’t seeing or focusing.
We don’t really know the cause. The best guess after years of testing and monitoring is an infection in utero, and they were probably born not able to see with that eye.
It was a tough pill to swallow, but we consider ourselves fortunate that only one eye was affected. We’re grateful they’ve grown up compensating for the altered peripheral vision and depth perception, because it’s natural for them. If you met that child now, you’d never know there was an issue with their vision, except [laugh] they only squints with one eye when they go outside, and I find it adorable.
What I remember most from that day isn’t the doctor appointment. It’s sitting in the car in the parking lot after the appointment. I was bracing myself to go to the client meeting. There was no one to cover for me. As a one woman show, I had no reinforcements. I was everything about Check Off Your List to the clients, so I picked myself up, put on my big girl panties, and drove to the meeting through my tears. I pasted a smile on my face and walk into that meeting to do my job. Even though I was a business owner, my own boss, I didn’t really control my schedule. I suppose I could have canceled on the client, but we do what we say we’ll do at Check Off Your List. That’s always been the standard. So, I wiped the tears away as best I could, went to the meeting, and no one was the wiser.
They say children are the gifts that keep on giving. There is never a dull day with kids. [laugh] Kids are great, but they challenge us in ways we never anticipated, and you never know what’s going to be thrown at you as a parent. Recently, life threw a few curveballs at us. This time it was all about teeth. One child chipped a tooth because another one of our children chucked a ball across the room. Because we’re definitely allowed to throw balls in the house, but that’s a whole different issue. Of course, this was a hard, plastic ball rather than the many softer balls we have. The ball hit their sibling in the face, breaking a front tooth in half. Another child was injured at gymnastics. While practicing a front tuck, they didn’t fully rotate and their knee met their face significantly dislodging two teeth.
These scenarios resulted in emergency dental visits. One required a trip to Children’s Hospital where we waited until 3 am for stitches in the upper lip. Of course, there have been multiple follow up appointments to monitor the health of teeth and bones to give their teeth the best chance and minimize the ongoing dental issues they’ll inevitably have the rest of their lives. All of these appointments take time, and it’s a lot of going to and from appointments that we didn’t plan for on our calendar.
When I look at these situations— the eye and the mouths—I realize how fortunate I am now compared to years ago, when I didn’t have a virtual team compensating for me. I can be at those dental appointments to hold my child’s hand and keep their spirits up, which is part of why I started a business in the first place. I wanted to be there for my children, but my business is what kept me from holding my toddler after a routine eye exam and allowing myself to process the emotions that come with a devastating doctor appointment.
I’ve been parenting for a decade now, which is a little painful now that I say it out loud, but it’s true. And I’m sure the years of experience parenting helped my mental outlook, but things are a lot different when my kids hurt their mouths. I didn’t have to give myself a mental pep talk to rush back to work. I didn’t really have to do much of anything besides keep my Virtual Assistant updated on my availability, because I now have control of my schedule through outsourcing.
None of this flexibility is due to anything special about me. I still run the same business, but the difference is I have a people that fill in my gaps. There’s a remote team of people who do things better than me. They’re experts that take full responsibility for various aspects of Check Off Your List, so it’s ok if I have to step away from a few meetings to fit in another endodontist or orthodontist appointment.
Outsourcing can do a lot for your business, your bottom line, and the general growth of your company. I’m confident we’ve covered that in this podcast. Those are very easy and quantifiable benefits. But the intangible benefits are a little more difficult to quantify, which is why I’m sharing all of this with you today. The perk of controlling my time and where I spend it, thanks to outsourcing, is what really excites me about building a remote team.
As the owner of a Virtual Assistant firm, outsourcing is my business, but at its foundation, or at the heart of it, outsourcing is just people helping people. It’s people using their life experience and skills to fill in the gaps, so to speak, when someone has a need. For us at Check Off Your List, this is through back office business support, but for the business owners we serve, it can mean being there for your family and friends, not being tied to your business. As just one example, close friends of mine experienced a hardship in their family that provided our friend group with the opportunity to serve them. I was able to brush off the catering skills I learned in my parents’ restaurant. Thanks Mom and Dad! And we were able to love them by feeding our close friends’ extended family. It was just another work day, and I had a whole list of meetings and things to accomplish, but I was able to leave Check Off Your List in the capable hands of our Virtual Assistants to be there for our friends. This is the part of outsourcing that you can’t put a price tag on, and nothing for me could replace being able to take those hours away from my business to set up tables and make sandwiches.
Sometimes, it’s not even someone else who benefits from the flexibility of outsourcing. As a business owner, your health is important too. A few years ago, Forbes released an article talking about all the sacrifices business owners make – personal, financial – anyway, a lot of them centered around sacrificing physical and mental health: missing doctor appointments, skipping meals, working over 50 hours a week, or not taking a vacation. As business owners, a remote team helps us get our life back. I think back to when I was in college, and I didn’t even know I didn’t have a care in the world. I’m not minimizing the stress of college, but I think you know what I mean. I wasn’t running a business, making a house payment, or keeping little humans alive. Outsourcing removes some of the stress of owning a business by moving those ‘cares’ or responsibilities to someone else. It’s not like the freedom I had in college, but it certainly helps and gives me the ability to take care of myself.
Last month, I had an outpatient procedure that requires a few weeks of recovery with minimal physical activity…try doing that with 4 kids, while running a business, and hosting a podcast! Needless to say, I’ve had to rest and nap frequently, which is not my norm. Check Off Your List and this podcast continued, without so much as missing a beat, all because of outsourcing. I’m up and moving much better now, because I was able to take care of myself. This shouldn’t be a luxury; it’s more like survival. There’s this mentality that some of us have that considers taking care of ourselves as optional or indulgent. We shouldn’t wait until we’re forced to slow down by our body giving out. I know that’s a mom thing. We often put ourselves last. It’s also a business owner thing. But anyway, I digress. Because of effective outsourcing and relying on a remote team, I was able to step back from work confident our clients and Virtual Assistants were in good hands and everything would keep on moving while I took care of myself, and we all deserve the ability to do that for ourselves.
I’m a very reflective and intentional person, so the combination of these recent circumstances that all seemingly piled onto each other and reminiscing about how I handled things in the past have taught me a lot, as I hope you can see. They’ve also forced me to reflect on why it’s so difficult for us business owners to step aside and share the workload, even when that workload forces us to put aside loved ones who need us, because of the overwhelming feeling that have to take care of things in our business ourselves. Why do we do that? Well, I’ve come to the realization that one of the misconceptions we business owners have is no one will care about our business as much as we do. As a result, we feel like no one will take care of our business like we do.
While this may be true when it comes to our loved ones, it’s not the case with our business. Other people will be passionate about your business as they work for your business in their 20%. Their passion for their zone of genius overflows into passion for your business, which I talk about in a recent episode on the 80/20 principle of outsourcing. That episode explains this in much more detail, so you might want to check that out if you haven’t listened to it.
As the owners of our business, we often think we’re the smartest ones when it comes to our business and no one’s going to do things like we do. That’s not the case. Next episode, I’ll explain why you don’t want to be the smartest person in the room, and how you can get better results by not doing everything yourself. If you intentionally surround yourself with people smarter than you, you and your business benefit from their genius. To find out more, be sure to subscribe to Checking Off Your List with Rachel Luther.