Step three: Open-mindedness
Willingness is the third step in my series of 12 suggestions on how to “turnaround” your business. These steps can also serve as reminders for business owners and their employees who want to make their businesses run more smoothly and successfully.
In step two (April 2020, pg. 89), I advised on finding a mentor – someone trustworthy and successful in business who can listen intently and provide positive suggestions for change.
Seeking counsel with someone who can present a second opinion helps us realize we cannot always solve every problem, and it means we have surrendered our egos and are able to look outside of ourselves. In the 12 steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, this calls for appealing to a higher power. In business, it involves looking to a mentor or a group of mentors – a hand-picked advisory council of other business owners or consultants – to help find solutions.
To explain the open-mindedness this requires, I advised giving up the “my way or the highway” mentality. One of the biggest mistakes I see is owners spending more time working “in” the business rather than “on” the business. This is especially true of underfunded startup companies.
Step three is about admitting change is needed and implementing the heretofore “talked about” changes. Steps one and two require a change in long-held beliefs, but step three marks the point where one agrees to enact the needed changes. It involves the willingness to overcome our own egos and the human tendency to have control and start having faith in people other than ourselves.
When you are really honest with yourself, you realize that none of us has total control over much of anything. We cannot control the weather, the marketplace, the world economy or the universe. We are not immune from everything life throws at us, like accidents, viruses, terrorist attacks, competitors or anything else you can conjure up. But it is helpful to talk to trustworthy mentors or advisers who can give fair and impartial advice.
In a life crisis, one must have the willingness to change. Everyone can tell you that you need to make changes, but you will not be successful if you are not willing to change. In the business world, willingness can be explained as the readiness, desire or inclination to change. In order to change, we must be prepared to change and institute the changes we have sought counsel to make. We always value our employees’ willingness to learn new skills and to grow and change as our company grows and changes. It’s no different for the owner or administrators. Changing the way we bring our products or services to market, realizing and accepting new technologies, and utilizing those technologies as well as our employees’ skills and talents to generate optimum value are all important steps in our personal as well as corporate growth.
The other part of step three is listening to your heart instead of your head. The most dangerous place in the world is usually inside one’s own head. Fear and our own (often unfounded) projection of events keep us from working in the “here and now.” If you just wait, things will usually work out satisfactorily. This is better than getting in the middle of the storm and possibly making matters worse due to your own anxiety.
But how does one listen to one’s heart instead of one’s head? Prayer is one way, and even the most cynical business owner has probably prayed at some point. I have found meditation is an excellent way to begin the day. Envisioning the day ahead and the tasks that need to be accomplished can set the tone for the day. Even when chaos intervenes, remaining in a place of gratitude and guarding against ego-based decisions will help you accomplish more and smooth those inevitable bumps in the road.
Also published in BIC magazine.
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