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Last week I watched an interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson. The conversation turned toward alcohol. Particularly, getting off of it – breaking the addiction to it.
Said Peterson, “Alcohol is a really good drug. It’s effective. But you need something better.” He went on to extol the virtues of finding things more productive, valuable and worthwhile – things constructive, not destructive.
I kept thinking about that statement, “You need something better.”
And I thought about you, me and every other leader devoted to growing great. It’s what we all need – something better!
Let’s think about the things in our lives that may be working at some level, but they’re destructive. We need something better. Something more valuable so we can ditch the destructive behaviors, processes, and philosophies.
Maybe drugs and alcohol are destructive habits for you. You likely already know you need something better. Perhaps you’ve not yet found it or figured it out. Let me encourage you to get busy getting it figured out. The downside of leaning on substances to mask our pain and fears, or to increase perceived bravery is too high. Losing family and friends. Wrecking our health. Risking our lives. No matter how effective drugs and alcohol are, they don’t make us better humans.
But when I was listening to Dr. Peterson I wasn’t so much thinking about drugs and alcohol, which were clearly the topical context for Peterson’s comment. Instead, I was thinking about business owners and other clients who have destructive habits that impact their businesses and their lives.
For example, Gary operates a successful website design firm. He launched the business as a solo-freelancer 12 years ago, building websites for local small businesses. Clients were happy and his business grew. Technology changed and Gary found himself needing to incorporate other technologies into client’s websites. Integration became increasingly important to his clients – integration with other software so their businesses could run more smoothly.
Gary confesses that life has been a constant, ongoing struggle since hiring his first employee. Now he has 9. And Gary laments, “I’m never satisfied with the work. Fact is, I’m not even satisfied with the effort.”
Gary complains how he has to step in to make anything and everything happen. If he doesn’t step in, then projects fail. If he doesn’t step in, sales don’t get made. “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Within a few meetings, I learn what Gary already knew. He just couldn’t yet bring himself to face it so squarely. He’s the problem.
He doesn’t know how to find the people he most needs. He’s unable to effectively interview and vet candidates. He’s addicted to chasing employees based on his desperation to “get help.” The result is he’s surrounded by the wrong people who lack the skills he most needs to please his clients. As a result, the culture is not conducive for achieving what Gary wants. Gary needs something better.
Marilyn launched a skincare line 8 years ago. The products grew in popularity with high-end spas, but now sales aren’t so good. Marilyn is stuck and unsure of how to remedy the current trends. High-end spas want their own private label products. Marilyn doesn’t want to produce products that don’t bear her brand. And she’s uninterested in broadening her market. She enjoys the prestige of the high-end spa market. You can see the dilemma. So can she, but she’s addicted (to beg a word) to the strategy that got her where she is. She’s living in the past and lamenting that market conditions have changed. She wished things would go back to how they once were.
Like Gary, Marilyn comes face to face with her problem. The businesswoman in the mirror. Marilyn’s destructive beliefs and desires to go back to a time when sales were brisk aren’t helping her move forward. She needs something better.
We’re starting a new month. A new week. I’m not accusing you of having destructive behaviors in your life or your business – but maybe! I am challenging you to look at your beliefs, philosophies, processes, systems, business models, principles and anything else to see if you need something better. Truth is, I’ll wager we’re all needing something better. And it never stops. Because it’s what growth is all about.
Fixing what ails us.
Improving what holds us back.
Making good things great.
Asking – and answering – the question, “What can we do to improve this?” How can we make our businesses and our lives more valuable?
By finding something better. So this month, let’s search more diligently for it, then chase it down until we catch it so we can incorporate it into our lives.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!