Do you need a reality check?
Modern leadership is about balancing realism with optimism. But when the daily urgencies muscle in and especially when facing a challenge, it can be difficult to lean into positivity.
As a business owner, I’ve found these 7 reality checks useful. They remind me of what is within my control.
Being human means that despite our best intentions we will make mistakes. Sometimes we can be in the habit of seeking perfection (the haute couture of lack of worthiness!) but when you are in business, being perfect is often an unachievable luxury.
When you realise a mistake has been made, it is an opportunity to review what you are doing. Ask yourself ‘what was the root cause of the mistake?’ ‘What can I learn from it?’ ‘What can be different going forward?’
Part of being in business is that things will go wrong. The word ‘wrong’ is open to interpretation. For example, you may think everything was carried out correctly but a customer may not be satisfied and from their perspective, something has gone ‘wrong.’
These are temporary stumbling blocks and opportunities to finetune your service offering.
This is good news because odds are you cannot please all the people all the time anyway! I’ve always had a very clear picture of the sort of clients (individual and business) that I want to work with.
Equally, I knew the sort of clients I don’t want to work with. This approach ensures that I focus my time and energies where they have the most impact.
Customers have off days and sometimes they’re going to take it out on you. That doesn’t mean you have to take things personally or strike back aggressively.
When you feel unfairly treated, take a few deep breaths, notice what you wish were different, and remember that we’re all human. Maybe it’s time to assess what you will tolerate or not tolerate.
Are you trying to please everyone in order to be happy or fulfilled? Have you compromised too much? In these situations, you have to look at how you are behaving, not because you are to blame, but because you are the only one whose behaviour you can manage.
When a solution to an issue is beyond your immediate control it is time to practice being available and responsive to customer needs.
The key in these situations is to be honest, communicating that you may not know the solution but you do care about finding one as soon as you can.
Running your own business means you don’t have the same support structures available to you that you would in a large organisation.
It is useful to put some thought into developing connections, people who can be sounding boards, who can offer support, who, in short, are allies in your corner.
From my experience, the support and encouragement of friends and family is vital. I make a point of meeting up with supportive people in my network regularly, and I’m open enough to share concerns with those people who I know have my best interests at heart.
Some days will simply be more challenging than others. Trying your best every day is important, but know that your best today may not be the same as your best tomorrow.
When I have one of those dark cloudy days, I don’t beat myself up about it. I know that it will pass and often it is my body telling me to take the foot off the pedal and recharge the batteries.
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