Welcome, ye who hail from Huffington Post Small Business. I wish I was writing with exuberance, but I’m a little deflated at the moment, I’ll admit. We’re kindred spirits, though, you and I, so I can admit that. Small business owners gotta stick together, right?
I just returned from my monthly “Posse” meeting. It’s a group of small business owners who gather monthly, and in the strictest of confidence, hash out whatever issues we’re battling at the moment. In fact, as one of my colleagues put it this evening: if each brain at that table was worth $5,000 an hour, it would be about $120,000 worth of consulting. Pretty powerful stuff.
Posse meetings are not always easy, though. Sometimes we have to hear things we don’t want to hear. Just last month, I received feedback from someone in the group that I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t respond well. In fact, I could almost feel my fists come to my face, ready to respond in unadulterated defensive fashion.
I know nothing about boxing, or defensive sport of any kind, so that’s probably not a smart move.
It’s also not typically the kind of move I’d make.
I believe that defensive communication breeds defensive communication. Defense escalates the heat, the fight. It makes things worse, not better. No one wins. Lose/lose, as Stephen Covey would have said.
If we don’t learn how to take it, if we don’t train ourselves to respond positively to critique, we’ll never improve. We’ll never grow.
If you’re here from the Huffington Post, you probably realize I’ve committed the worst blogging mistake a company can make–a poorly written blog headline.
But here’s the thing: I don’t want to be a company. I want to be a human. Companies have to be perfect. Humans are allowed to be flawed.
There’s no forgiveness if you’re a company that’s committed a cardinal business sin. It’s harder to apologize when you’re a “we”, and an apology means more when it’s an “I”.
I’m not writing this to make apologies for poorly written headlines. I’m writing this to let you know, that one of the most powerful things you can do on your blog, as a company, is to give it a human voice. Be yourself.
Perfection isn’t attainable. The alternative is wholly fulfilling: trying to be the best version of myself I was created to be.
Now, in the spirit of receiving constructive criticism, I’m off to write a better headline.
I’m listening to Amy Grant Christmas music right now. Anyone else a TOTAL Amy Grant Christmas music fan? As in, listen to it year round?
As we all bustle through this holiday season, wrapping up 2013 projects and getting excited to dive head first into everything 2014 has to offer, I’d like to encourage you to stop for a minute and reflect on the definition of failure above, provided by Chuck Swindoll. Chuck pastored the church David and I attended when we lived in Texas, and it is one of the things we miss the most.
A few questions to ask yourself, if you’re getting into 2014 goal setting anytime soon:
- What objectives can you focus on when obstacles present themselves?
- What do you possess? What assets do you have that you can even better improve upon to increase your confidence?
- When was the last time you let your emotions go, in anger, or sadness or fear? How can you keep them in check next time?
- What character attributes do you feel like you need to strengthen or develop in 2014? How can you focus on developing character instead of diving into instant gratification to help yourself feel better?
Have a beautiful, (albeit blustery here!) winter day, friends!
p.s. If you’re looking for 2014 goal setting tools, consider the 2014 Year Designer as an option. It comes in a three-ring binder format, so you can add personal worksheets and lessons from the year as you go. It’s designed to work in conjunction with your Day Designer, or any other planner type system. We’ve extended the introductory pricing for a short time!
For the next fifteen minutes, the ball is in everyone else’s court. I’ve spent the past two days getting caught up on clients, projects, and the inbox. I just stepped back from the computer, and realized that I’m in a moment where I’m waiting for calls and emails to be returned, and feedback to be offered, and the moment, the very very odd moment, felt empty.
My brain jumped to a strange question: what should I do with fifteen minutes? What am I always saying I should do, but never doing, because I let the excuses own the moment?
As I was cleaning out my inbox yesterday, I came a across a few emails that all fall into an increasingly common theme. Will-be entrepreneurs email, give me their back story, and then, several paragraphs later, ask me what advice I have for them. I want to reply with a simple sentence: ask more specific questions.
There is no possible way for me to put all the experience I’ve accumulated into one email reply. And everyone’s back story is different, so it’s also pretty challenging to try to dissect where someone is at that moment, and give them advice on where to start. One thing that I know: the people asking how to get started have already gotten started. It starts with questions. And on that note, I guess my only piece of advice is to get more specific with the questions.
A couple of people have asked me a very interesting question this year: what would I have done differently? I sat by Emily Newman, from OnceWed.com, at brunch at Bliss & Bokeh last fall, and that was the question she posed. Even though it requires a lengthy response, it’s a brilliant question–one of the smartest you can ask any entrepreneur. I told Emily that I felt like the topic warranted a blog series, even though I felt like it would be painful and challenging. Admitting what you’ve done wrong to the internet is, well, not easy.
Because I only have a few minutes before the day takes over, I thought I’d brainstorm a quick list, and I’ll try to go back and write more on each of these. I’ll put these posts under the category of “Things I Did Wrong”, with the hopes that entrepreneurs that come after me can glean a bit from the error of my ways.
(If you’re just now joining us, the back story on this is that I closed my business after over a decade of business. On the opposite hand of doing things wrong, there were a lot of things I did right, but those weren’t the things that killed the business. The things that went right owe a majority of credit to a great team I worked with over the years, and I feel like it’s important for me to take responsibility for the mistakes, and give credit for the victories. I talk a lot about the things that went right when I speak at Stationery Academy and other workshops.)
On that note, here goes nothin’, and in no particular order, Things I Did Wrong:
- I lost sight of purpose.
- I let ego make decisions.
- I tried to be everything to everyone.
- I listened to fear.
- I lived in a scarcity mentality.
- I outsourced my core competencies.
- I sacrificed my creativity to the god of business.
- I tried to make money a motivator.
- I insourced things that should have been outsourced.
- I chased every single idea someone threw at me.
There are more, but I’m going to stop there for today. Looking at that list, the one that stands out the most is the one about scarcity mentality. Reprogramming my mind to think in an abundance mentality is probably the single most important thing I’ve done over the past year. There are days when it’s still really, really hard. Learning to identify the mindsets of less-than, instead of always-enough, has paved the way for some big personal growth for me.
I’m signing off with that. I’ll try to go back and expound more on these over the course of time. If you have a question about any of the above, feel free to leave it in the comments–I’ll try to answer it in a blog post in the future.