What are you afraid of?
Holidays make many entrepreneurs and small business owners nervous.
On one hand, HURRAH! A holiday!
Depending on your business, you may be looking at numerous merry-makers coming to your shop and celebrating by indulging in a bit of “retail therapy.” A different kind of business is looking at turning a “regular” weekend into a three-day weekend, and one where a LOT of people (their employees included…) take some time, gas up the motor vehicle of choice, and head out for a vacation of some length. Sometimes these two collide and the owner can have a staffing problem, but, hey, just put in a few more hours yourself and you’ve got it covered right? But what happens if, on this more dangerous holiday weekend, somebody gets hurt or something? In between all the travelers, the uncertainty of fireworks (as one of my colleagues said, “Normal people with a few drinks in them setting off explosive devices….what could go wrong?“…) and the randomness of other accidents…well, there’s plenty to get wound up about.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all want things to be easy. And it’s not just business, American or Western Society that defaults to easy. While I still worked at Microsoft, one of my managers got our entire team “Easy Buttons.” You pressed the Big Red Button and a voice said, “That Was Easy!”
We have a few things working against us:
- The problems and challenges we face today (business, societal and personal) are complex with no simple answers. The kind of effort required to tackle them can’t be splintered into micro-moments of attention (better known as “multi-tasking”…). We need big blocks of time, and lots of them, to work through these things.
- Our culture prizes Fast, Immediate, Responsive, 24/7/365 over taking the time to gain the ability to learn hard things more quickly and produce at an elite level (so we move past “good enough” to “WOW!”).
- The difficulty of measuring the complex over the simple (an example – “audience engagement” versus a Facebook page “Like”).
- The tendency to answer a simpler question when confronted with a difficult one (more on that shortly…).
As business owners and entrepreneurs, what does this mean?
Mindfulness is a light of honesty within yourself that is fed by each moment that passes.
Mindfulness and “being in the moment” are ancient ideas found across cultures. This self-awareness is partly being truly aware of the moment, and partly acknowledging and letting go of the things and thoughts that cling to you or come flying back at you, only to be noticed and let go of again in that moment. It’s an enlightening and maddening place to be, for sure…
I read an article
by Seth Godin
recently about self-awareness and marketing that brought me to reconsider the role of marketing in my thought life and decision-making process
, and in that of my customers and yours, too. To say that we are all relentlessly marketed to by just about everything and everyone is a statement of the obvious that we have become so numb to that we tend to ignore it. We are in danger of losing the awareness that can allow us a margin of critical thinking. Godin writes, “Mostly, marketing is what we call it when someone else is influenced by a marketer. When we’re influenced, though, it’s not marketing, it’s a smart choice.”
In other words, it’s not “just marketing” when it influences me! I’m
not as influenced by the marketing beast as “those other folks!”
Caterpillar using a hookah. An illustration from Alice in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How many jobs have you had where the expectation was that you would be “comfortable with ambiguity“? Be honest….is anyone really Comfortable with Ambiguity?! Or is this just the company’s way of stating the obvious: everything changes, so hang on?
I wrote a post last year about being in the moment
and how each moment was nearly certain to be different from the moment expected. Certainly my life is in a very different place now, and yours may be too. I’ll bet it is, since this world is anything but static.
It’s interesting that I haven’t seen that particular phrase used quite as frequently as before (say 5 to 7 years ago…). Has anything changed? Has the workplace become more aware, more mindful of the realities and discomforts of change, thanks to greater awareness? There continues to be a lot of discussion of mindfulness
in the workplace…perhaps this has created the environment where change and ambiguity don’t need to be called out. They are accepted as the norm and natural.
Every business hits this wall at some time.
Whether your just starting out, ALMOST to profitability, have a “going concern” or are well-established, sooner or later something either organic (like growth of your customer base) or externally realized (your top salesperson and top delivery person get married and move out of the state), “Now What?!” happens to you.
How do you respond?
mindfulness 1.0 (Photo credit: Mrs Janet R)
Like it or not, most of the passing moments bring something a bit different than what I am expecting. That’s really just a fact, an observation. Whatever I plan, even in the midst of doing something that I feel like I have complete control over (like writing this post…), moments seem to move in a slightly different way than I thought they might. Most of the time the changes are so small, so quantum-sized that they are virtually unnoticeable. That doesn’t change the fact of their existence. What does change is my perception and acceptance of them.
Gamification is a hot term in business and education today. According to Wikipedia it is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a
non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. I have been thinking about this in terms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and what really keeps people interested in what they do.
I fully believe that the singularly best way to have someone’s full attention in a project or process is to hook into that person’s passion for the project, process, idea or effort. This, as everyone knows, is not only not easy, but difficult to sustain. It can be easy to start well and then, once the excitement becomes the routine, passion can back off.