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The Tip that Ticks All the Boxes

It amazes me how many times I come away from a life experience with something valuable to my business. In many cases, the gems are as simple as they are surprising. Here's one I was reminded of a couple of weeks ago.

In the midst of a client coaching call, my mind floated off to the plains of Africa. Fear not, I took my client with me as I intend to take you now.

In the early '90s, I took a year out to travel the world. I like to think of it as long service leave after a successful decade, but a response to feeling totally knackered is nearer the truth.

Semantics aside, I found myself in Zimbabwe with my dear sister. Here we were in the back of an old Landrover about to drive off on safari.

As we readied ourselves, our guide handed us a large sheet of paper with names and line drawings of the animals and birds we were likely to encounter. There were hundreds of them and alongside each was a little checkbox. See the species, tick the box. Easy really.

The effect of having this checklist was profound. Instead of just staring out the window in amazement, we looked intently at every moving thing and made sure we distinguished between a Great White Pelican and a Pink-backed Pelican.

In business --- as evidenced by my client who had just suffered from a disturbing failing in a key aspect of his work --- checklists help ensure we do routine things completely and efficiently.

Two key examples that benefit me hugely are my checklists for "Organising speaking engagements" and "Taking on new clients".

Both have a number of key components and actions covering details that if omitted, make me look very silly.

"Didn't I tell you I needed a laptop for my presentation? Oops."

Hey, who wants to write a new checklist this week?

Robert Gerrish

Robert Gerrish is a coach, author and professional speaker and the founder of Flying Solo (, the Australian online community for solo business owners.

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