Over the years I’ve witnessed many business owners struggling with frustration, stress and self-doubt, all of which takes a very real toll on them both personally and professionally. I know what it’s like because I was one of those business owners for many years.
The physical, emotional and financial fallout can be exponential when left un-checked. It usually starts out as a nagging sense that something isn’t quite right and grows to be a constant companion over time.
Human nature prods us to push through each day, silently fighting to survive while never quite sure what or who the enemy is. We ask ourselves a lot of questions like: “What’s wrong with me?” “What am I doing wrong?” “Did we take a wrong turn somewhere and I didn’t notice?” “How could things have come to this?” “Will things ever get back to ‘normal’ again?”
Sudden turns in the economy or other major life events or business incidents usually precipitate such struggles, at least to some degree. But the reality is that at the heart of most such ongoing issues is something else altogether.
We don’t think about it much (often not at all), but this problem is the root cause of many unnecessary and costly ‘no-decisions’ that business owners make.
“It” is our definition of success.
That is, most of us have never intentionally defined what success really means for us on a very real, day-to-day, personal level. Or, we have defined it at some point but its meaning has gotten lost in the daily juggling act that defines most businesses.
Failing to do so means our success is defined by other people and/or our culture. It can work ok for a while but ultimately, we set ourselves up for failure. As author Stephen Covey points out, “Frustration is a function of expectations.” And, unfortunately, our expectations are often based on false assumptions rather than compelling, visionary goals.
For most business owners, a discussion of success instantly equates to finances. And, of course, any business should reward its owners well financially – that’s the first reason to own your own business and a fundamental assumption here. But making a lot of money, as helpful as that is, isn’t all there is.
If we’re working 80 hours a week, surrounded by unhappy employees (assuming they’ve stayed until now), exhausted and relationally bankrupt, what good is it all? At that point an owner has lost sight of the second major reason to own a business, which is to have the time to enjoy life! Life is short! Each day is precious! And the legacy we leave will never be lasting if it only goes as far as the money we leave behind.
Perhaps it’s a good day to begin building a lasting legacy. Why not start by committing to becoming the best version of yourself possible? Think about implementing some simple daily leadership disciplines like recognizing and responding differently to stressful situations, saying “no” more often when others ask more of you than there is to give, or just slowing down enough to say thanks to the people in your life and business?
Better yet, take a week off right now! Believe me, the world will not stop spinning and all of your jobs will still be there when you return refreshed with a more healthy perspective.
Success doesn’t happen accidentally. Starting with you, it takes disciplined leadership; leadership that places high value on people and intentionally creates environments where everyone knows they matter and has the opportunity to make a difference.
Not surprisingly, that also describes most successful company cultures where a lot of profit is produced too! Why not write out your personal leadership declaration today describing your commitment to two things:
- Your new way of being; that is, who you will be in order to produce positive results, build a successful business and leave a lasting legacy.
- Behaviors you must abandon; what you must stop doing that is creating counterproductive results.
A successful future is yours to define and capture, and as Jim Rohn has said “Good habits are how you convert opportunity into equity, it’s as simple as that.” Lead on!