You know when you make those rash decisions based on a flash of inspiration, and then realise the consequences of what you’ve just committed to? Well, I made one of those in June when I noticed a Dry July poster next to the elevator door in Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) in St. Leonards, Sydney. My dad recently spent 42 days in the Cardiovascular/Intensive Care ward and I thought, what better way to give back than to raise money for them as tiny token of my appreciation.
As has been the case over the last 9 years, My Accounts had my back. So, the team jumped on board – perhaps also not realising the consequences of their commitment – and together we jumped in (or out) the deep end (of a Martini glass).
Now that we’re half way through July, I’ve learnt some pretty cool things about myself and of course, about business. Here’s what I’ve learnt.
If you read through the comments on my donations page (https://www.dryjuly.com/users/noel-tiufino), there are equal amounts of encouragement and tongue-in-cheek doubt and I wasn’t at all surprised. At the risk of sounding like someone in the denial-phase, I don’t necessarily drink regularly because of my love for alcohol, but because of my love (need) for socialisation – yes, I have very real FOMO.
When I became serious about doing Dry-July I told every single person I knew. I spoke to every local café, bar and restaurant owner. I sent massive group emails and posted alerts on social media. It would be easy to mistake me for just being a zealous, philanthropic man with a huge heart, but alas, I am simply a man who also doubts my ability to abstain from the sweet, sweet nectar of a Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, a glorious Henschke Henry’s Seven GSM or a heart-palpitating Espresso Martini, hence my need to let everyone know that I need their support; not just financially, but also morally.
I realised that, with My Accounts, I am also very open with my friends and professional networks about what it is that we’re trying to achieve. Our mission is to empower small businesses by providing them with a valuable, timely and clear picture of their financial performance. I like to be held accountable for this, so having everyone around me on the same page as my business goals is as necessary as having a muzzle across my mouth when I enter a bar in July.
At times, I’ve caught myself fearing tall-poppy syndrome – that if I was to stick my head up, it would be lopped off quicker than you can say ‘Who’s got next shout?’
This experience has definitely restored my faith in humanity. Examples like the one from Leigh Dunsford at Waddle above genuinely helped – I really feel like people have my back and want me to succeed.
Perhaps the days of tall-poppy syndrome are fading, or perhaps it’s the network of positive people I surround myself with, but the support I have as a Director of My Accounts is just as uplifting as one of those bad days when someone says ‘stay strong’ rather than providing anecdotal advice like ‘maybe you should try spend less to increase profit’… wow.
In retrospect, that fact that Leigh was sending me encouragement at 7:40am on day 1 is a rather worrying sign.
Aside from raising money for RNSH and abstaining from alcohol for a month, I’ve found improvement in other key areas of my day to day life. I normally manage to exercise 3 times a week and whilst I’d like that number to be higher – there are just too many distractions*. Since Dry July, I’ve easily managed to increase that number to 5, and the reason why it wasn’t 7 was a conscious decision to have rest days.
In business, I’ve also recently sought out to improve aspects of my leadership. I was given a book called ‘Being The Boss’ by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback and found a huge amount of practical advice and inspiration which truly resonated with some of the challenges I was experiencing.
Whilst focusing on improving my leadership, I also found that other areas that I was responsible for like Business Development improved dramatically. I had a renewed energy and focus and could tangibly feel improvements akin to the ripple effect on a pond across our business.
Whether in your personal life or in business, never underestimate the power that one small positive change can make.
*To be clear, by ‘too many distractions’ I mean there are about 200 different types of alcoholic distractions at my local bar – that’s a lot. By eliminating the primary distractor, I freed up an exorbitant amount of time – particularly on Saturday morning – which is normally my foetal-position-on-the-couch-watching-national-geographic as I manage my dehydration (hangover) time.
On Thursday the 7th I had dinner with two of my best mates at a Brazilian restaurant called BAHBQ in Crows Nest. These are the kind of mates that you can’t shake – you’ve just known each other too long, so they aren’t going anywhere, no matter how much you try and remove them from your couch.
I was genuinely curious about how I’d go at this dinner, and so were they. They were acutely aware that I’m normally the one dishing out all the peer-pressure to have just one more drink.
Over dinner, we re-told a story about one of them who had endured one of the most epically failed dating experiences ever. Of course each time it’s retold, superfluous and hyperbolic details are added, but we never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Emotionally, it’s one of those tales where you shout NO!, cringe, laugh, cry, hide, clap, point and laugh multiple times in the space of 3 minutes.
Whilst wiping the laugh tears away before they salted my beef rump cap, I thought in a moment of reflection that this is no different to any other time we’ve had dinner together (or told this story): alcohol has had no effect on me or this evening and I’m genuinely having the best time.
I made the decision that doing Dry July wouldn’t make me a recluse. I made the decision that I could still do all the same things and experience the same euphoric feelings with my mates without a drink. For once, I couldn’t have been more right. It’s not the beer bottle in my hand – it’s my mate on the couch that makes life so damn good.
I’m sure we’ve seen all those inspirational memes flooding our social media pages, heck! we’re even guilty of posting a few ourselves, but since doing Dry July I couldn’t be more convinced that our mindset and attitude is the single-most important factor of the success in business, not the expensive CRM system or how detailed an operations manual is. So please, open up Instragram and don’t stop scrolling until you’re ready to win!
The morning after I had dinner at Brazilian BBQ, I realised I had lost my car keys. I had a quick look around the house, but it wasn’t in all of my usual spots – so I just booked an uber because I needed to get to the office. I sent a couple texts out to see if anyone had seen then.
Turns out I left them at the restaurant. I guess this isn’t the most stupid place to have left them, but what was really moronic was bringing my car keys in the first place – I didn’t drive.
Dry July has stripped me of the ability to blame silly things like misplacing my car keys on external factors like alcohol, but sober or not, should we be able to continually offset blame prior to pointing back our ourselves?
In both my personal life and business world, I realised there are really are no excuses for doing dumb things (like filming a Facebook live feed sideways), or serious things (like not managing a challenging situation as best we can). We shouldn’t blame external factors like alcohol, the other Manager that was working on the project or Facebook for not correcting the orientation of the video. We should instead, take complete ownership of our actions and not seek to delegate blame on anyone (or anything) else.
I’d say that half-way through Dry July, I’ve managed to learn quite a lot. Most of them positive, some of them challenging, but I’m definitely grateful for this experience and I’m looking forward to riding out the rest of the month stone sober. With any luck, I’ll still have my best mates on my couch, my car keys in my pocket and a huge donation for the Royal North Shore Hospital.