Not Going Crazy In The Process

Battling Misery & Dread: Find Your Friends #5002

My Biggest Challenge Is Battling Misery

Business owners are almost always candid when I ask, “What’s THE big challenge facing you today?” Even though they’ve never talked with me before, it’s rare for a business owner to avoid engaging with me in an honest conversation about their life. For starters, within seconds they can spot two of my super powers: empathy and curiosity. It takes a bit longer for my other super powers to show up: intuition and communication. That last one is the most tenuous because these conversations are always on the phone and I have no history with this person. I’m weak at many things so I have to leverage these few super powers to the max. 😉

He’s a small business owner more than 1000 miles from me. We’ve only exchanged a couple of messages via Linkedin. He’s in an industry that intrigues me. That’s why I connect with him. My curiosity is elevated by the time we jump on the phone. Within 3 minutes I’ve asked him, “What’s THE biggest challenge you’ve got right now?” He doesn’t hesitate. He says, “Battling my misery.” I’ve heard this before, but not quite so boldly and candidly. I’m sad for him, but impressed with his honesty.

“Tell me about it,” I say. He spends the next few minutes telling me the various sources of his misery. None of them are extraordinary. They’re all too common among small business owners. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in his misery. It’s been lingering with him for too long. You can sense he’s tired of it.

He’s successful fought his way through cash flow, getting new customers, operational issues, personnel issues and all the other things that plague us. There are elements of those creating some of his misery, but mostly it’s more personal stuff. Marriage stuff. Head stuff. Heart stuff.

It’s no lie when I tell him, “I understand.” But I quickly follow that up with the big question, “What are you going to do about it?”

He gets quiet. I embrace the pause. I know it’s hard for him, but I also know it’s my opportunity to prove to him how much I care – and that I’m not calling to make a pitch on our first date. I’ve got a bigger picture in mind before I ever connected with him. I’m not about to change course now. Patience is another power I’ve got. It’s not quite up to super power status, but I’m still working on it.

After a few seconds of silence he says, “I don’t know. Battle through it I guess.”

I want to help him shift into a different gear – one that I know can serve him better. “What have you done that’s worked in the past?” I ask.

“Well, that’s just it,” he says. “The things that once worked don’t work now.”

Misery loves company because misery is lonely. Actually, that mantra, “Misery loves company” isn’t true. If by misery we mean complaining, whining and making excuses…then yes, misery does love company. We love to find people who will listen to us moan and groan. We enjoy telling people why something we did failed. Or why we didn’t follow through on something we said we’d do.

But when it comes to really honest, genuine misery and dread…we mostly deal with it in our own head. Small business owners often feel the burden of keeping it to themselves. Trying to figure things out alone. It’s easy to feel that we don’t need anybody helping us. We sure don’t want anybody trying to tell us what to do.

We proudly wear our “Happily Unemployable” t-shirt. Working for ourself is a big driver for us. Over time we’ve confused being an owner with going it alone.

Misery has no respect for anybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, a creative, a scientist or a student. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or a pro. Misery can afflict anybody. At any time. And it does. Bringing along a close pal, dread.

This business owner was in a bad place, Dreadland. He hated it, but wasn’t sure what he should or could do to escape. We’ve all been there. Sometimes just momentarily, other times longer. It’s like a bad losing streak. And our head doesn’t help us. All those things that got us success in the past now seem to be working against us. Like a professional athlete in a slump who tries harder and harder hoping that more effort will help…we can find ourselves pushing too hard, failing even more.

THE PEER ADVANTAGE is leveraging other business owners willing to help us through this misery.

Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Sadly, some of us are spending time with losers. Other people filled with their own misery and dread. People who lament who is in the White House. Others filled with industry gripes. Still others willing to blame the weather, competition or customers for their misery. It might be fun to chime in with them, but we know it doesn’t help us. Just ’cause it feels good doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

The universe isn’t against you. Or for you. It doesn’t care one way or the other. We have to figure our way out of it and into higher success. Pushing harder to go it alone isn’t the answer, but sometimes it’s all we know. That’s why we stick with it.

Every person I know filled with misery and dread is surrounded by people who enable it, foster it or at the least, tolerate it. Which is why the first thing you have to do when you find yourself steeped in misery and dread is to evaluate the people who surround you. Is your misery amplified by them? Do they contribute to make you feel good about being miserable? Do they agree with you on why you’re the victim of somebody or something? (And is that somebody or something always beyond your control?)

Your misery and dread have found company. That company is wrecking your life, professionally and personally.

Friends, But Not In The Traditional Sense

Business owners and CEOs are notorious for surrendering to a false notion about friends who can help them. They incorrectly believe that such friendships must be completely organic. That is, they happen in the wild…all on their own, without any effort. They think it’s like when we were in 4th grade and got close to a kid one street over, and over the summer we became good buddies. It just happened. We don’t remember how. It’s amazing how UN-strategic small business owners can be when it comes to finding friends who can help them be their best.

No wonder most small business owners don’t have a single person who can help them grow and improve. Some day never comes.

Ironic, isn’t it? We’ll be strategic about most things in our business except in forging friendships with people who can really serve us. But I’m not slamming anybody because how do we go about it? Who do we recruit? How do we know who will do a good job for us? You can see the difficulty…and the reason so few people have a close circle of people who can help them.

That’s precisely why I have pivoted my entire business and career to be a player in the peer advantage space serving small business owners. Because the need and the opportunity for exponential growth for small business owners is real. So few small business owners know and understand the opportunity. That’s my fuel. My energy. To give a few small business owners exposure to a quantum leap opportunity for business and personal growth by putting them in the company of other business owners equally determined to accomplish their desired outcomes.

It’s individual and personal. Some business owners want to grow much larger. Others want to sustain growth and develop a solid exit strategy. Small business owners are unique individuals with unique goals and objectives in life. Some are young. Some are older. Some are in high-tech and others are in tried-and-true spaces. That diversity empowers us to serve each other with varied points of view, resulting in powerful feedback fully capable of catapulting us to higher altitudes than we’ve ever experienced.

All three actions of effective business building – getting new customers, serving existing customers better and not going crazy in the process – are achieved more fully and faster when we surround ourselves with other business owners who will help us. The Peer Advantage is found only when you grab hold of the opportunity for yourself by allowing yourself to join forces with a small group of other business owners. Courage, candor and openness are the ingredients of those willing to elevate their businesses and their lives.

Misery is easy. Success is hard. But worth it.

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Tuesday Happens (A Quick Hit) -GROW GREAT

Tuesday Happens (A Quick Hit)

Tuesday Happens (A Quick Hit) -GROW GREAT

Over the weekend you made a decision. Maybe it was a solution to a problem. Something you think will work. Or something you’re dead solid certain will work.

Or maybe you spotted an opportunity you plan to exploit. You can see it working. In your head it’s a game changer.

You’ve managed to elevate your optimism in the past 48 hours. And it feels great. You think, “About time!”

On Monday morning you hit the ground running. You deploy your optimism and it’s contagious. You’re feeling pumped.

Then Tuesday happens.

A new problem erupts. A “gotta handle it now” situation happens. Maybe nothing major…just business as usual. A distraction. A fire that requires your fire fighting skills.

Gone is that weekend epiphany. And the energy it delivered. You’re back at it. Doing what you’ve been doing for years. Fighting the fight.

Life in business is an exhilarating grind. It fuels you while sapping you. All at the same time. The paradox of being a small business owner. The price paid by every true operator.

Tuesday happens every week. It close enough to the beginning of a week and the ending of a weekend. Close enough to be destructive and dangerous. Close enough to sucking us back into the same rut that envelopes us every other week.

We’re no different than other people who endure the mundane, common occurrences of life. We’re also no different in what it takes to push us to change – or improve. Most often something dramatic has to happen to push us to consider doing something differently.

Friction Points

I wasn’t out of my teens when I learned the power of friction in selling. Or I should say, the power of reducing friction.

In retailing, if you want to make sure it won’t sell (except for fine jewelry where it’s always been expected), then put it under glass. Make it difficult for shoppers to check it out and you’ll make it difficult for them to buy.

But friction, in context of what we’re talking about today, has big power in our daily and weekly habits. It’s just too easy to keep doing what we’ve always done. There’s too much friction to change. We keep going in the same direction. It’s the power of Tuesday morning.

We need to utilize friction for our benefit, not our stagnation. But how can we do that?

Well, you might be able to do it alone, but not likely. If you could have done it by yourself you’d likely have figured out how by now. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying it crazy hard because the friction is so powerful against making a change.

People. Connection with others. Collaboration focused on achieving your most desired outcomes – that’s the answer. But that has a friction all its own.

How do you achieve that? How do you put yourself in the company of people who can help you battle – and win – against Tuesday morning?

You’ve likely tried it before and failed. You talk with your wife or your husband. You confide in close friends. You have conversation with other buddies who are also business owners. Mostly those conversations just deepen your sense of dread…even despair. Because everybody has their own version of Tuesday morning. They’ve got their own stuff. They care about you, but they’re not sure how to help you. And there’s no process or system in place to help them…or you. It just is what it is. You march on. Toward Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

One foot in front of the other. Day after day. With moments of optimism as you head toward yet another Tuesday morning.

Processes, Systems & Workflows

Like anything else in your business, or life – you need a solution that works. Repeatedly. Consistently. Predictably.

Tuesday morning will still happen, but you can keep going it alone and living in Groundhog Day like Bill Murray, or you decide the make the friction more intense against NOT improving or growing. Make it easier to grow and change. Make it harder to avoid growth and improvement.

Accountability is the answer. Be accountable to others. People who can safely, securely and confidentially hold you accountable for the decisions you make the grow.

Every business owner on the globe wants to grow and improve. Most don’t know how. They work hard. They push. They grind. Growing more frustrated by the day.

They embrace social media and pay close attention to the phony messages of a world gone amuck with success, high achievement and out-of-the-world accomplishment. Then they look at themselves and are dissatisfied. The lie of the world takes a heavy toll on life. We don’t measure up. We look like a loser compared to what we see happening all around us.

Because it’s a lie. We’re holding up our life against a false reality of fakes. It drives up our expectation only adding to our frustrations.

The reality is that there are millions of other small business owners just like us. Accomplished, high achieving, but sometimes struggling. Driven to succeed and reach higher altitudes, we know if we just had a little bit of support and help by people who understood us — if we could find people like us — then we’d be able to reduce or completely eliminate the friction of Tuesday morning. The friction that prevents us from growing.

Ripe is rotting. It won’t help us build a business where we’re growing great. It won’t help us build a great, growing business. Ripe is stagnation. It’s a refusal to change or not knowing how. All the same.

Growth is thrilling. Improvement is exciting.

Ditch the people in your life who don’t contribute to your energy. Embrace the people who most challenge you to grow. Value the people who care about you, but are willing to hold you accountable. They’re your true friends.

In every realm of life it’s the people around us who elevate us. Your very best antidote against Tuesday morning is surrounding yourself with people who can push you to get past it. People who have their own struggles with Tuesday morning and need you to do the same for them. You don’t think it’s possible.

What if you’re wrong?

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What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

What Are You Chasing In Your Small Business? Part 3 #4065

In episode 4063, part 1 of this little series, we talked about pursuing confidence. Then in part 2, episode 4064, we talked about chasing delusions. Today, I want to wrap up this series with a conversation about chasing the things that will propel you forward while simultaneously ditching the things that will drag you down.

• Pursue optimism over pessimism
• Pursue collaboration over autocracy
• Pursue humility over hubris
• Pursue learning over having the answers
• Pursue growth over stagnation/loss
• Pursue accountability over never answering for your choices/performance

WARNING: It’s more difficult to choose what’s profitable. That’s why you’ll be in select company should you make that choice. The majority of the world takes that path of least resistance where things are easier, but where success can never be found.

The formula is lots of hard work plus leveraging your strengths/skills plus embracing the need to make adjustments all along the way equals your best shot. You need patience while you also elevate your expectations that success and growth can happen today. The paradox of it is intentional. You need to succeed today and you want to succeed even more tomorrow.

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Business Owners Sometimes Find Themselves In The Dark

The darkness overtakes all of us. Some of us remain in the dark for a long time. Others are able to climb out of it more quickly.

Get up in the middle of the night when your house is pitch black. One small light (of any color) can make all the difference in the world in helping you navigate the room. It provides a reference point and just enough illumination to help you find your way.

Without that small little light – a light no larger than a pen light – you blindly feel your way without quick success. It takes longer and requires you to go slower.

About 8 years ago my career came to an abrupt fork in the road that I didn’t see coming. It happens. Welcome to the wilderness. The darkness.

In a flash my identity was gone. Or so I thought. I read a book by Marci Alboher where she talked about the slashes behind your name – all the different roles you have in life. For decades my identity had been something that I now wasn’t. I started thinking of the most important roles of my life, the ones closest to my name.

Randy Cantrell, Christian/Husband/Father/Grandfather

For 3 years I was completely lost in the darkness, struggling to regain my confidence. And my identity.

These more important roles – the ones having nothing to do with work or business – were far more important than the one identity I lost. But it was more than identity that I lost. It was self-confidence. It was belief in myself.

People closest to me didn’t help. They didn’t know how. And over time I could see them lack confidence in me. I took it hard until I realized what it really was. They weren’t lacking confidence in me. They knew I could find the light switch in the dark. But they wondered if I ever would. It wasn’t them. It was ME.

Like most people who love us and are closest to us, they just don’t often know how to help us. We just need a very small light to give us a reference point, and just enough illumination to find the light switch. We need people able to do that for us. Usually it’s somebody who isn’t too close to us emotionally because those people aren’t often able to provide the feedback and accountability we need.

Don’t stay in the dark. You can find your way out. The switch is there. You just have to know where you are relative to the switch. Find people who can provide the pen-light you need. Incorporate them into your life. They’ll need you at some point to do the same for them. It’ll make all the difference in the world by helping you navigate out of the darkness much, much faster!

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BN

Serving Others (And Yourself) By Sharing Your Story

Some people are more open than others. We’re not all driven by our natural wiring to share. I am, but even guys like me have a reservation sometimes. It’s appropriate.

Today’s video is less than 7 minutes long, but it can help you better understand how valuable it can be for you to open up and share your story. Yes, you want to have a safe place to do it, but as a business owner (or leader) you owe it to yourself (and others) to find a place. Few things will help elevate your mental wellness and fitness as much. And it’s absolutely true that if you’ll put yourself in the company with others who can help you achieve higher performance…you’ll find yourself serving them to perform better, too. Everybody wins.

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bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

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