What am I supposed to do when this happens?
When we’re running a business, that question is coming at us all the time. A client wants something different. Something breaks at the most inopportune time. An unusual situation comes up. An associate needs it done yesterday. It always happens at a bad time. It always piles on when we’re already flustered, and it’s never something easy, is it?
So, what the hell are we supposed to do?
I certainly don’t remember learning about this in the training course…
A lot of the time, running a business is hard. It’s a lot like flying an airplane. At night. With one hand tied behind your back. While wearing a blindfold. With someone shouting in your ear to do it faster…
That about covers it.
So, what are we supposed to do?
There are only a few things we can do. Not too many choices, really. If we stop to think about it, it comes down to three things: react, respond or initiate. Those are our choices.
Most of the time, we react. We like to think that we’re forced to react (I’m so busy, it’s all I have time to do…), but we really make that our default choice. It’s easier. No thinking required, really. The problem appears in front of us, and we just do the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe it’s the same thing we always do. Maybe it’s our natural reaction. Maybe it’s the easiest way to move past the current obstacle in our path.
Regardless of the reason, we react. It gets us past our next problem. And we like that, getting past the problem. Sometimes it works, but often it just works for now and we end up dealing with that problem again, somewhere down the line.
But at least it’s not in my face anymore.
Responding is another option, but it’s harder to do. It requires thought; it requires planning; it requires time. Time to examine the situation. Time to think about how we got here, what we can do to deal with the problem and what effect our response is going to have in the future.
Much better than just reacting, but still we’re still waiting for things to happen before we act. We’re still playing defense; still waiting for something to happen before we start to move.
And the last choice, initiating? What’s that all about?
It’s about doing. It’s about planning ahead. It’s about going on the offensive; making things happen before we’re forced to. It’s about taking things into our own hands and doing something now instead of later. Making changes before we’re forced to make them. Making them because it’s the smart thing to do, not the thing we need to do.
And that’s hard to do. It takes planning. It takes time. It takes discipline. All the things that (we think) we don’t have time for.
We’ve got a million excuses why we can’t initiate, don’t we? We can come up with them all day long.
I’m too busy.
I don’t have the money.
I have to finish this other thing first.
The timing’s not right.
It’s too hard.
I just don’t have the energy.
(It’s too bad that coming up with excuses doesn’t help our business, because then we’d be onto something…)
The funny thing is that it’s never been easier for us to initiate. We’ve never had more information available to us; never had more ways to access that information; never had more options than we have right now.
It’s all there, within our reach, just waiting for us to take advantage.
It’s easy to react. Easy to let someone else dictate our day. Easier to simply sit there waiting for something to happen so we can make it go away. Then we can get back to waiting for something else to happen.
But why should we just wait? Why should we only react? Why should we always play defense? We didn’t start our business by just reacting. We didn’t wait around for someone else to plan our future. We initiated. We actually got off our butt and made something happen.
We started our own business.
Yes, we may have had some help; we may have had a mentor, a guide or followed instructions provided by someone else. But the point is that we did something ourselves. We made it happen. We initiated.
So why stop now?
Especially right now, while we’ve all got the time. Shouldn’t we be doing something to make us better? Isn’t there something that we’ve always wanted to do? Something that we’ve known wouldn’t be easy to get done, but we know (deep down we’ve always known) that doing it will make us better.
Make our business better. Make our life better.
So why don’t we do it? Really, we’ve got the time.
Just do it.
This post was inspired by a blog post from Seth Godin. You can find his work everywhere; just Google Seth.
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