Stop Trying to Be a Superhero and Find Virtual Freedom (in 3 Steps)

This is a guest post by Chris Ducker, who is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, blogger, and podcaster. I also highly recommend you pick up a copy of his new book, Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business. You can follow him on Twitter.

In late 2009 I hit burnout. I’d been working sixteen-hour days, six days a week. I was spending hardly anytime with my beautiful wife, or our three children, whom I love more than anything in the world.

I was desperately unfit, unhappy, and becoming unappreciative of the success I had amassed thus far. I realized there and then something had to change.

In January 2010 I started blogging. In the process I launched a public one-year goal to become a full-time Virtual CEO. I wanted to remove myself from the day-to-day running of my business as much as possible by the end of the year.

I achieved the goal a full month early in November of that year. I now work four days a week and no more than eight hours a day. I enjoy a three-day weekend with my family.

I don’t say these things to brag. I say them because I want to give you hope that your situation can change. You are the CEO of your life and your decisions impact the lives of those you love.

I achieved all of this by simply letting go of my Superhero Syndrome, believing in other people, delegating like a madman, and ultimately allowing myself to continue to grow as an entrepreneur.

And it all started with a simple exercise.

Three Lists to Freedom

Putting together my “Three Lists to Freedom” in December 2009 was the single most important move of my entire career. It was the catalyst for eventually being able to unshackle myself from my desk and escape the office. Plus, it catapulted my business growth and overall success in the process.

If you want to go through this same exercise, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Step #1: List Tasks You Hate. Get a piece of paper (or a whiteboard, or an iPad, or open Evernote) and create three columns. In the first column, write down a list of all the tasks you’re handling on a day-to-day basis that you really hate.

  2. Step #2: List Tasks You Can’t Do. In the second column, create a list of all the tasks you struggle with. Don’t allow your own Superhero Syndrome to get in the way of reality here. As leaders we have the misconception we can do everything ourselves—better than anyone else! It’s not true.

  3. Step #3: List Tasks You Shouldn’t Do. In this final column, create a list of all the tasks you really shouldn’t be doing, given the fact that you are the leader of your organization. Think long and hard here. You might enjoy these tasks. You might be really good at them. But should you be doing them? Can your time be better spent on more important, high-level activities that only you can do?

Free Resource: You can download a free one-page PDF worksheet of this exercise by clicking here to make it even easier for you to do!

So, those are your “Three Lists to Freedom.” They will become your roadmap to start your outsourcing journey in a productive, positive manner.

Michael has done a remarkable job in covering the subject of working with virtual assistants here on the blog, so I won’t repeat what he has said elsewhere. However, I want to provide a few tips related to these lists that I’ve learned from working with thousands of leaders and entrepreneurs on their virtual team-building over the years.

How to Buy More Time

One of the main reasons people have trouble letting go and outsourcing tasks is they believe they can do it just fine themselves. Usually, they also think they can do it faster than they could teach someone else to handle it for them.

This might be the case, in principle. But remember, once you’ve taught someone else how to handle that task for you, you’ve ultimately reduced your workload and buying more time in your day for m,ore important tasks—ones that only you can do.

Break Down or Build?

Many modern day leaders have the misconception that to be more successful they have to work more, longer hours. This is not the case. Sooner or later you will get overwhelmed. At this point, you’ll have a choice: break down or build your team.

Getting over yourself and beginning the journey into delegation will allow you to avoid overwhelm and getting to the point of no return. It’s a much more positive, sustainable option. Not only for you, but for the people you love.

Hire for the Role, Not the Task

A warning is in order: There is no one person who can handle everything you need done. I call this the “Myth of the Super VA,” and it’s one of the biggest mistakes a lot of leaders make when they start outsourcing.

Unless you’re genuinely hiring someone for a one-off task, be sure to hire for the role, not a bunch of thrown-together tasks. You may think you are getting more “bang for your buck,” but you will end up with someone who is great at a few things and mediocre at the rest. (Isn’t this true for all of us?)

Obviously, there’s a lot more to building a successful outsourcing campaign into your business, but the tips I’ve shared in this post will hopefully get you thinking a little more about taking the leap if you haven’t already. Or if you have, perhaps this will make you re-think a few of the things you’re doing, and help you become more successful as an entrepreneur.

Question: After you’ve gone through the 3 Lists to Freedom exercise, what are going to be the first three tasks you outsource to a virtual assistant?