Step five: Let someone else know
In my article on step four, I advised how to take a moral inventory of yourself and your business. That step dealt with admitting inner truths to discover what is blocking you from your full potential and the full potential of your business. You and your business are “hand in glove.”
Step five goes further because it requires you to share this moral inventory with a trusted mentor. If you recall, the first step to “turnaround” your business is finding a trusted mentor.
This is not a negative exercise. It is quite the opposite, as it guides you to explore, in great detail, the strengths and weaknesses of your business and discover areas of improvement or possible new directions. This exercise helps reveal self-destructive behaviors. Yes, some businesses have created self-destructive or defeatist cultures.
The moral inventory should be in an easily understandable format and contain basic elements of who or what you are blaming for your personal or business failures. The “who” or “what” can be a person, place, thing or even an idea.
Before doing this exercise, I had a lot of absolutes in my mind, such as, “I absolutely won’t do business with certain people” or “We should absolutely go after this portion of the market and do it my way.” I confess now that was all wrong. I eventually saw that people doing things differently were gaining ground and becoming successful. I realized the positions I took were the wrong positions.
When assessing or owning the “cause” or “blame” behind problems, it usually involves a particular incident or moment like, “The banker wouldn’t give me the loan I needed, and that’s why my business suffered” or “Those clients did not pay and that’s the reason I’m in debt.” The list grows with the amount of time spent in business because, like the stock market, business is a “W.” This means it has its ups and downs; it is not a straight line from the bottom to the top. That’s why not everyone is cut out to start, own or manage a business.
One’s emotions related to the person, place, thing or idea should also be expressed on the list. The emotions are usually related to one of the following: self-esteem, pride, money, emotional security, ambitions or personal relationships. Each cause or incident should be categorized by selecting one of these emotions.
The last thing to do is complete the exercise by filling out the column that explores the question, “What was my part in this?” It is here that one comes to realize it isn’t always about who is to blame or what the cause of the problem is. The fact that you played a role in the problem can be quite revealing as well. For example, you might say, “I extended too much credit to the customer who failed to pay,” “I knew I shouldn’t have altered the terms of the deal” or “I thought I needed their business in order to succeed.” There can be any number of scenarios, but it is important we each explore our — or our company’s — role in the cause or incident and make changes accordingly.
Step five is probably the hardest step for turning your business around and keeping it on track, but this step is the most important because it takes insight and sharing. It involves owning up to your mistakes while also letting another person know about them. It all comes down to trust. Trust yourself enough to know and admit your mistakes (we all make them), and then trust someone else with that knowledge. If you choose the right mentor, that information will be used not as a weapon against you, but as a learning tool for yourself and your mentor.
It’s easy to seek the comfort of vic-timhood. Many do it all of their lives. Nothing is ever their fault. They had no role in the outcome. It was the authorities, their parents, the environment, friends, the government, the times, etc. But the freedom that can be found by taking personal responsibility for the decisions we make and the actions we take cannot be overstated — especially when it comes to finding success in life and business.
Also published in BIC magazine.
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