Recently I was talking to Ben Rennie from 6.2 and I was congratulating him on his Failcon talk. He spoke about his previous business failure and the personal feelings around failing that he couldn’t talk about for three years. It was brave and inspiring and it encouraged me to be braver. It got me thinking how in small business there is so much we don’t talk about. Whether that be failings, adversity, depression or how tough we’re finding business at any given time. Self doubt, insecurity, a nasty divorce, or business partnership issues. These things become the unspeakable and the unspeakable makes our business journey even more lonely and isolating.
Of course we want to appear to our clients, our peers, our staff, our family and friends that we’re okay; we’re doing just great. When behind the scenes we may be falling apart and desperately in need of their help. It’s a vulnerable place to be, to admit what’s really going on. We don’t want others to lose confidence in us and in some cases we may not want to admit out loud what’s really happening either.
But sometime, not always, things really suck. And it doesn’t matter if your normally an optimistic person. Sometimes it just sucks, that’s reality at that point of time, and you may not be able to see your way out of it.
No one enjoys listening to people moping, whining, complaining or playing the victim. But there’s a big difference to appearing desperate and being annoying and really needing insights on what you can do to turn things around.
The art is knowing the difference between when to tell yourself “Suck it up princess and get on with it” or “I really need some help with this because I can’t do it alone“. To know when and where to seek wise counsel.
One recent Sunday morning I was having Yum Cha with a few friends. One of the men in our group is a CEO of a very well-known Australian company. From across the table he asks his friend, the advertising CEO, “How’s business?“. The reply “Business has been really tough this year. I’m finding it extremely difficult“. The other CEO replied, “Yes, it has been a tough year” and the conversation continues around that. In my experience this type of conversation is rare to have when a group of people are at a table, some of which don’t know each other. Maybe because we want to be seen as successful and perhaps there’s some pride involved as well.
The truth is, it’s not possible for you to have all the answers. It is normal for human beings to feel a lack of confidence or self-doubt at times especially when trying something completely new or if things aren’t going well. Just as you have strengths you also have weaknesses. We need each other to help relieve the doubts, to encourage us, to be a sounding board, to give us ideas, strategies and insights. We need each other to remove the loneliness of being in a small business, to remove the isolation we might feel. An environment where we don’t have to edit what reality is like for us and an environment where no harsh judgement is placed on what we’ve said.
Next time a friend ask you how you are and things aren’t so great, instead of saying “good” you could say something like “Things aren’t that good right now, I’m a bit stuck of what to do but I’m sure they’ll change for the better“. You might be surprised by the response. They may have or are experiencing a similar situation or maybe they just might give you invaluable insights. They might turn out to be the wise counsel you need.
Article by Angelique Milojevic
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