I started thinking about this while working with a friend and coach on building confidence for when I show my dog. Is it possible that the principles for successful business ownership and successful dog competitions are similar? Yes, I think so.
The Voices in our Heads
Who do you listen to? Probably you have colleagues, friends, partners and employees. They speak with you about your business and you listen to them. You can decide what you want to hear and act upon, and what you’ll just let pass by without letting it stick. We all benefit from various perspectives and approaches. The vast majority of successful people have achieved their successes by having people around them and working with them.
There’s another set of voices that affect you. These are the voices in your head. They include voices from the past and the present, and from all areas of your life. Remember the high school coach who thought you were terrific? Or not? The college advisor who boosted you up or questioned your ability? Parents, friends, colleagues, partners, relatives, acquaintances. All their voices could be filling your head with their thoughts.
Our challenge as business owners is ensuring that the voices in our heads are the ones that help us. Generating several or many millions of dollars a year is not easy. You certainly don’t need voices in your head pulling you down.
What do These Voices Say?
My favorite voices are the ones that speak in the present tense and active voice. They say things such as:
- You are attentive to your customers and that makes a difference.
- You trust your employees to do their jobs well.
- You encourage creativity throughout the company.
- You believe that effort is valuable. (“There is only try.”)
- You focus on delivering valuable outcomes to your buyers.
- You make time for creativity and thinking.
The voices you want to shut out say things like:
- We don’t do things that way.
- It will never work.
- We don’t have the money.
- I’m too busy to think.
- I must do everything myself.
- Customers only want to deal with me.
- I can’t trust anyone.
Choosing The Voices You Hear Daily
Human brains are amazing. They can give us everything from monsters to magic. It’s up to you choose what and how they contribute to our lives. My dog performance coach describes these voices as our “committee.” They assemble around a large table and talk to us. We must choose which voices get to stay and which get shoved behind a locked door.
You can do the same with the voices in your head that want to help your run your company. Just as you choose your employees and your clients and customers, you can choose the members of your committee.
Choose voices, like the ones above that speak in the present tense and active voice, that describe you in positive and growth minded terms. Can you pack your committee with optimists and glass-half-full kind of people? Of course!
We need a steady chorus of boosters to face the daily and long-term challenges of business ownership.
- Who is going to help you when an important customer leaves?
- Who will support a hard or potentially risky financial decision?
- Who will keep you company during late nights and weekends when you’re putting every ounce of energy into a new product or service launch?
- Who will encourage you to pursue a new market, a new customer or a very big goal?
Don’t get confused by voices in your head that claim to be ‘realists’ but are actually negative. These are the voices that insist you’re not strong enough, big enough or market-leading enough to pull off your next big goal. These are the voices that demand to know the ROI of a new idea and refuse to take first steps to test it out. These are the voices that immediately default to “it’s not in the budget” when you want to experiment. These are the voices that insist you compare your company to the competition, instead of caring mostly the needs and wants of your steady customers.
There are also some actual negative voices in your head. They remind you how many times you’ve failed. They tell you’ll never be the next Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, so why even try? They say you can’t do this or that because you never done it before. They don’t allow for the possibility of growth, of the lessons you learn by trying new approaches, and by putting your all behind an idea.
Choose Your Voices Wisely
With more than 25 years of business ownership under my belt, I am as aware as anyone that mere bullishness isn’t enough. Bold ideas need excellent plans, benchmarks, measures and evaluations to succeed. Many times, a company does need money to move forward. It needs specialized, expert help to take a leap. It needs a lot of hard work and intense focus to create dramatic growth. Along with these tangible inputs and support, a company owner needs supportive and helpful voices in their head.
Which voices are you giving a permanent seat on your committee and which are you banishing to behind a locked door?
When I look back over the past 25 years, I see a direct connection between my extraordinary successes and the voices I had in my head, even if or when I worked with experts or specialists. Let me know what voices you are going to keep and which you’re going to get rid of. And if you need some guidance to choose wisely, give me a call. 703-801-0345.