I have a good friend, a mortgage broker, with whom I work out on a weekly basis. When we’re not admonishing each other for wimpy lifting, we often use the opportunity to discuss business, developments, trends in the market, etc. We share anecdotes about our respective days, laugh and generally provide each other with the kind of mentoring support necessary not just to make it through a grueling hour and half work out but our days as well. It’s a good, trusting relationship built on years of a shared passion for physical fitness.
Out of this trust, then, comes the ability to hear what we each are meaning, not necessarily just saying. Yesterday, we were talking about vacation. My friend and his wife are very good at taking weekends with and without their children. The struggle for him, though, is finding time and confidence to leave his business for a week and go off-radar. I, on the other hand, am better at the latter. I do not find it at all difficult to separate myself from my work when on vacation. My wife, daughter and I frequent Mexico and when we’re there, we certainly are not working. I know I’ve made appropriate preparations and that my clients will be well taken care of in my absence. If something goes wrong, then I trust the person who is watching my business will deal with it.
In describing his reasons for not being able to relax when on vacation, the first two statements he made were, “I’m always worried about which contracts will go sideways while I’m gone and what business I am going to lose”. Although these are pretty normal concerns for most of us who run our own small businesses, the manner in which he expressed them was noticeable. I paused for second and then asked him if he had heard what he had just said. He repeated himself, smiled wryly and acknowledged perhaps he would better serve himself by not placing so much emphasis on what might go wrong, rather could go right.
How you approach your business is predicated entirely on your attitude towards it. If you think you’re going to have a bad day or imagine the worst case scenario, odds are you’ll deliver on the fear. We are projections of ourselves to the people around us. How many times have you stood in line behind the disgruntled shopper in front of you only to wonder how many puppies he kicked that morning? I remember traveling once from Vancouver to Seattle after a trans-Atlantic crossing. I was tired, eager to complete the last leg. Seats on the puddle-jumper were overbooked and people were getting very irritated with the airline desk personnel. Having just enjoyed the pleasure of the person standing in front of me raking the desk agent over the coals, I decided to approach with a big smile and the positive attitude that no matter the outcome, I was not going to be upset. Net result, I got the last seat on the plane which Mr. Grouchy got to wait stand-by for a few more hours.
My point is this. We’re in a service-oriented industry. As managers of our own entities, how they thrive (whether we’re on vacation or not) is related directly to our approach and attitude towards our business and clients. Equally, how people react to us is commensurate with the positive or negative attitudes we project. I’m not immune to moments of negative talk and self-doubt. I have trained myself, however, to listen for the signs. If someone asks me what kind of day I am having, my un-failing response is “great!” Do people really want to hear about my ailments or woes? I don’t think so. Furthermore, I find this discipline aids me in maintaining a higher and healthier emotional bar. The less I give into personal lamentations, the weaker their power over me.
Perhaps I’m sounding a little “woo woo” here, but I do believe we are responsible for our emotions and their affect on those around us. Next time you’re thinking about all the things going wrong with your day, stop for a second, take an inventory and see if there isn’t something very positive occurring instead. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to take delight in the smallest thing and that doing so can be the quickest remedy for negative thinking. Try it. Your business depends on it.