Growing Your Business by Doing Less

Christopher McCluskey, MSW, PCC


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

Isaiah 55:2

sven-scheuermeier-106767As a young man visiting a friend in the Twin Cities, I had driven out to see the original house used in The Mary Tyler Moore television series. I stood admiring the classic, multi- million dollar home, a stunning Queen Anne Victorian built in 1892.

“Man, what do you do to live in a house like that?” I wondered aloud.

“I have no idea,” my friend replied, “but I read that the guy who bought it didn’t even know who Mary Tyler Moore was. He’d never heard of the show.”

I was taken aback. “How do you live in America in the 1970s and never watch the The Mary Tyler Moore show?”

Even as the words were leaving my mouth, I realized I’d found a piece of the answer to my original question: Part of what you do is what you don’t do.

People able to buy a house like that don’t spend a lot of time watching television.

Their values prompt them to spend their time differently.

The insight reminded me of a similar experience back in high school. Several of us had popped into McDonald’s for lunch, and I was standing in line with a wealthy buddy who’d driven me there. (His father was a third-generation business owner, and my friend already owned a convertible MGB, a TR-7, and a baby-blue vintage El Camino.)

“So what’s good here?” he asked.

I laughed at his snarky, teenager sarcasm.

He looked at me and said, “Seriously, what do you usually get? I’ve never eaten here before.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” I replied. “Doesn’t your family eat out?” “Sure. Just not at McDonald’s.”

He was completely serious, and he wasn’t being a snob.

I stared at him, wondering, How do you live in America and never eat at a McDonald’s?

Same answer. I had unwittingly hit on a clue to his family’s business success. Their values resulted in their viewing meals differently than most of us, which hints at many other things they did differently.

Part of what successful people do is what they don’t do.

Author Stephen Covey crystallizes the lesson this way: “The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

Not the bad, the wrong, the evil, the sinful. The good. Good things, which, because they consume our time or attention or energy or money, can rob us of the best.

Growing a coaching business for the glory of God will demand many things of you. The things you say no to will become just as important as those to which you say yes.

“Good” things that rob us of time and energy and attention for the “best” are different for everyone. For some, social events or committees they’ve served on for years will need to be handed over to someone else. For others, the choir or praise band or a ministry will have to be given up. For some, it’s just letting go of recreational shopping. Certainly for many, it’s curbing gaming or Facebooking or web surfing or channel chasing.

Notice that none of these are inherently bad. We’re not talking about addictions or secret sins that clearly need to go.

They may, in fact, be things that qualified as “best” during a previous season of life, but that season has simply passed. They continue to be good, but no longer best.

david-straight-37577Some of you will reprioritize your love of collecting or decorating or antiquing or travel. Some will downsize your homes and forgo new cars. Some will skip a vacation, cut back on golf, get a simpler hairstyle, or give up concerts and movies. (Some will even cut back on Starbucks!)

I grew up near Cleveland, following the Browns and the Indians and the Cavaliers on television and in print, attending games, collecting ball cards, and swapping statistics with my friends.

Since starting my first business, I haven’t watched a Super Bowl or a World Series or a championship game in more than twenty years. That’s not a prideful statement (and it’s truly not a sad statement)—it’s a values statement.

As much as I would still enjoy those games, and would do nothing wrong by watching them, I find that the time and attention they require robs me of other things I now value more.

Of course, friends sometimes ask, “How do you live in America and not know who’s in the Super Bowl or World Series or NBA Championship?”

You now know the answer. The very things I don’t do enable me to do all that I do.

My answer will become your answer as well when people question why you’ve stepped down, backed off, flaked out, let go, or moved on.

As a man or woman working to establish a successful business, you are doing what very few people ever seriously attempt (although many dream of it). Fewer than 9 percent of Americans are self-employed.

News flash: You’re not normal. In fact, you’re way out of the norm.

alejandro-escamilla-10Ninety-one percent of adults have chosen a different path than the one you’re going down. You’ll have to do things differently to succeed in a career that’s so different from theirs.

If you’re shaken by that awareness, that’s a good thing. If you’re not a little fearful about starting your own business, you’re not in touch with the reality of it. But that kind of fear is part of discernment—awareness of danger—and it’s key to exercising wisdom and prudence and sound judgment in your venture.

Be sure that your fear is more than offset by the excitement and assurance you feel about the rightness of your decision. If it’s not, turn back now and wait before the Lord until you’re confident of His path.


Coaching the Coach Tip:

 The Christian life is nothing if not an adventure; and entrepreneurism—if that’s what God has called you to—is a wild and wonderful adventure. It will stretch you in ways you’ve never been tested before (just like marriage, and parenting, and all good adventures do.)

All that stretching means you’ll need time and attention and energy and money— the very things so easily spent on other good things, thereby robbing you of this best.

I believe the popular saying is true: Less is more.

Use discernment in determining the best of what God is calling you to, and then start letting go of all the good things you’ll no longer do.

Grow your business by doing less.


Christopher McCluskey, MSW, PCC, is President and CEO of Professional Christian Coaching Institute, a distance-learning school aligned with the standards of the International Coach Federation (ICF). His highly-acclaimed teleclass ‘The Accidental Entrepreneur’, and weekly podcasts Professional Christian Coaching—Live!, have enabled thousands of coaches throughout the world to establish successful practices. Called by many the ‘Father of Christian Coaching’, Chris has shaped this emerging field through his frequent teaching, writing, keynoting and service on numerous boards.

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit

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