I recently realized something that I consider to be relatively important and I wanted to share it with you. Over the past few years and I’ve heard some interesting reasons as to what is holding a business down and keeping it from expanding. I’ve heard things such as “there is too much competition” and “times have changed” and “government regulations are the root of all evil and must be destroyed” I’ve heard them all.
As a business owner, I used to agree with these reasons quite a bit. When I first decided to learn how to better run my business I hired a consultant and I remember a particular conversation with her whereby she asked me something that I considered rather rude: she asked me why I was not successful. I was very surprised and somewhat angered that she asked me this directly. At first I didn’t answer, I just kind of looked at her and shrugged my shoulders. So she asked me again, “Why are you not as successful as you know you should be?” I said “I can’t believe you’ve asked me that question. I’ve paid you some money and you’re insulting me?” She laughed, but persisted and asked me the question again, “So Shaun, tell me, why aren’t you as successful as you know you could be?” I hate to say it but I then became really angry. I went on for about 15 minutes giving all the reasons why I couldn’t be as successful as other business owners.
After blurting out all my reasons for failure, my consultant very calmly said to me, “I’m going to tell you something that might upset you. Are you ready?” I said yes. She said “Your success or failure in your business is your own doing and as soon as you really understand that, you’re on your way out of it.” At that moment in my life it was more truth than I’ve ever heard. It put me completely flat back into the chair. I said, “Wow. So what do I do?” She replied, “We’ll show you what to do, but you have to change your mind about a few things. You have to change your mind from ‘I have all these reasons why I cannot be successful’ to ‘I can and will be successful.’” So off we went and my business continued to expand from that point.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that I had a bit of a revelation when I realized something. Now I’m going to tell you what it is. After hearing very many business owners complaining about all the reasons why they aren’t doing well, I spotted this one very simple thing. They are paying attention to all the barriers to their success.
But what are the barriers? The barriers are nothing more than something that you consider will stop you. If you consider that you can’t drive new business in your doors, you’ll have trouble with that. If you consider that you can’t find good people, you’ll always look around and have a staff that you’re never quite happy with, because you can’t find good people. The truth is, you can find good people, but you consider that you cannot, so therefore you cannot.
My point is, I realized that all my past excuses and all the excuses I’ve heard since from other business owners as to what is holding down the business are simply things that are considered or believed to be true. They are not physical barriers, such as a wall or something that you can touch – they are things that you think will hold you back.
Sometimes what is holding you back is a fear of failing, and that fear of failing keeps you from starting anything or “sticking your neck out” so to speak. Sometimes what keeps you from doing well is thinking “if you want anything done right you have to do it yourself.” That’s the hallmark of an overworked executive. With this thought in place you become exhausted and burn out while the other staff cut out early to go to a soccer game or something like that and dump the work on you.
The only barriers that are worth solving are the barriers that actually keep you from winning the game. If you aren’t sure what the game is, then you might consider any problem in your office significant enough to handle. This could be something such as having two staff members not getting along and you spending an afternoon trying to patch things up, when most likely if you’d just throw them in a room they’d work it out and you could get back to solving the barriers that are in the way of your practice goals being achieved. A true barrier is something that you must confront fully and handle or you will never get to the next step.