Are You Married to Your Business?
Whatever industry you’re in, I’m sure you’ve noticed someone throughout your professional career who is TERRIBLE at their job. Whether it’s poor communication, overpromising or simply lazy. When you experience a situation with these people, doesn’t it sort of sink your faith in humanity and the workforce’s work ethic?
It’s very easy to get burned by these people and immediately vow that you won’t let someone burn you like that ever again. When those of us that are business owners or in leadership roles make these vows, often times you’re deciding that everything must go through you, and anything important needs to be done yourself. It’s very logical, yes, you are after all an extremely capable human, and more dedicated to the business than anyone else. But this way of thinking is not sustainable and will actually stunt the growth of your company. When you do this, you are deciding to tie the knot with your company and marry your business.
Sure, it sounds like a great thing to be committed to a business, but think about the kind of commitment a good marriage takes. Think about the emotional and time commitment that goes into a marriage. Isn’t one of the reasons we started our own business to spend that time and energy on our real marriages, relationships and passions instead? Maybe marrying our business isn’t such a good thing for a well-rounded life outside of work.
Back in my early days of business, and after a few years of the daily grind working for others, I had taken on the challenge of starting my own outpatient, orthopedic rehabilitation center. No one told me that financial success can come at a steep price. Early mornings, late nights and burning the candle at both ends—my life was all about my business, and my business consumed my life. Relationships? Who had time for them? My biggest relationship was with my company. I was married to the thought of a lifelong business romance between my work and myself!
My Ah-Ha Moment
The day that changed my life was the day I had a patient walk into my practice after being injured in a hit-and-run accident. My patient was in a lot of pain and needed extensive care. Nearing the end of an hour-and-a-half treatment session with my staff, I came into the treatment room to see how he was feeling. The words that came out of his mouth changed my life forever.
“Wow, I got the Cadillac treatment today and definitely feel better! Your team of professionals did an awesome job of making this old body feel better. No offense, Doc, but your staff is so good that you don’t even need to show up!”
I was a bit stunned. I had imagined that successful patient treatment rested on my shoulders. When I heard the patient compliment my staff, I thought to myself, “Hang on, this patient felt like he received top-notch treatment before I even walked into the room?” Now sure, as a doctor in the practice, there were services that only I could provide, but the fact that the patient felt recognized, well-served, and well-treated before I even started my own work sparked a pivotal shift in the way I thought about my business.
It struck me that I didn’t have to carry the burden of the “relationship” with my business alone! In fact, I realized that maybe the “one man show” of being married to my business was actually holding me back—and keeping me from embracing the other parts of my life. And wasn’t having that freedom to really live my life what inspired me to start my own business in the first place? Maybe it was time to end the unhealthy marriage that I had with my business …
Making The Shift
Over the next 15 years, I began putting this lesson into place. I continued investing in my team of professionals so that they could continue to deliver the “Cadillac treatment” my patient had raved about. I built business systems so that my business could operate without me physically being there and carefully strategized everything from determining the proper psychology of individuals that generate a powerful team, to hiring employees for their innovative mindset versus their credentials. This helped me skyrocket it to a place that I had only dreamed of.
As I perfected my team-building algorithm, I was able to confidently step out of my business because it was running like a well-oiled machine—without me. I was still part of the business I so passionately loved, but by creating systems that allowed my staff to thrive and serve patients without feeling like I had to do everything myself, I could also truly embrace the other parts of my life. I was finally able to work on my business as opposed to in my business.
Even to this day, I have to remind myself not to generalize the workforce because of one bad apple. It’s easy to do, but it’s toxic to you and toxic to your company. There are some terrible workers out there, but there are also some incredibly devoted and hardworking individuals out there as well. I like to take a look at all of my employees, their hard work and their individual genius’ that allow them to carry my companies forward without me peering over their shoulders every day.
My book The New Intrapreneur will help you explore how to hire individuals that will take your company to new heights and how to help your current staff grow and function without having their hands held. If you suffer from being in the wrong relationship (one with your business rather than with another human) it’s time for a divorce. It’s time to let go and let your organization grow.
Imagine spending only a fraction of your time in the daily grind, and the rest of the time strategizing the company’s growth while having more time to spend on your family, traveling or passion projects.
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