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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

What Other Business Owners Won’t Tell You

It's been a more difficult day than usual for me. Usually I can let things just roll off and I move forward with business as usual. If you're my friend on Facebook you know I am hesitant to share what I'm about to share.

Like everyone who is a business owner, I find myself faced with the usual challenges. Challenges like I faced today confuse me because I feel like I am "late to the party." It feels like I'm the last one to know there is a problem.

I could turn this into a discussion about how to manage people but that would be too easy and too obvious. Instead, I choose to recalibrate and make this about me, for all the right reasons.

In my next book, Living Smart in the Smart Zone, I talk about how to be efficient at work by balancing work and family life. Today I was not efficient at work. What began as a conversation to try and make things work better in the office, turned into a discussion that brought me up to speed about a number of things needing attention. Sometimes that can be overwhelming. That's how it felt at first.

In my head, I could go on and on about the "he said, she said" part of it. I could look for what other people did wrong. I could try and deflect responsibility. But that would all be mental theater. Instead, I end the day looking in the mirror to see what I have learned from all this and what we all can do to keep in the Smart Zone. Here is what I have learned:

  1. Always speak for yourself: While this may sound so obvious, it really isn't. When you tell someone something about someone else, you inevitably will have someone else speak for you. You may have had a bad experience when someone else spoke for you. I don't want that and the way I can avoid it is to speak directly to the person who needs to hear it.

  2. Keep focused on what needs to be discussed: It's easy to get off target and sway into details that might just be hurtful or destructive. We call it "trauma bonding". It's a way to feel like you are "in this together" and that you share the pain. But it is also very destructive because it gives the impression that there is agreement. It is best to keep your stories to yourself because you always leave yourself open for misinterpretation.

  3. Give yourself the opportunity to think things through: I did not do this today. Instead, I reacted because I felt caught off guard - like I was left out of a loop. That doesn't usually work out well (as I hit the palm of my hand to my forehead). If you've ever done this you will agree that it is hard to see the big picture when you react too fast. It's better to let yourself get caught up before reacting.

  4. Take the blame when the blame is yours: I am very willing to do this. But that is not enough. Actions speak louder than words and that is where the opportunity is for all of us. Your opportunity is to be consistent with your behavior and with your words.

For some of you, you will appreciate that I am human and make mistakes. When I have a difficult day, like today, I have the opportunity to recalibrate. For others (I believe a small majority), you won't get that the best way to get better is to learn from your mistakes - but you have to be willing to look in the mirror.

Please take my Smart Zone Survey if you haven't taken it yet.

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