I was paralyzed with indecision. Then, my coach and 20-year advisor snapped me out of it. “Marissa, you don’t have the luxury of standing still.” The word “luxury” struck a chord. In business, time is money. Energy is money. If a business isn’t smartly applying these two valuable resources wisely, it means they are applying them poorly. There’s no in-between. There’s little margin for error.
Reflecting on 20 years of business ownership, I thought about the other luxuries that periodically creep into Information Experts along the way. I also reached out to other business owners about their experiences with mistakes, setbacks, and poor decision-making.
Here is the list of the 5 most expensive luxuries that can derail even the most air-tight business plan and strategies to mitigate all of them.
Blame. One of the most damaging behaviors to any relationship, blame will unravel trust, erode morale, and create a C.Y.A (Cover-Your-….) mentality in even the strongest culture.
How to Safeguard Against Blame:
When a situation delivers an undesired outcome:
- Take time before discussing so that emotions cool down.
- Schedule a debrief.
- Create a safe environment for feedback.
- Approach the situation as a learning opportunity, rather than as an opportunity for punishment.
- MOVE FORWARD.
Inaction. Doing nothing is actually a decision. Remember the passengers who perished on the Titanic because they sat and waited? Well, they made the decision to not take action. Every day, business owners fight against the tide of obsolescence. If they aren’t moving forward, they are moving backward. Inaction results in inertia against progress.
How to Safeguard Against Inaction:
I find myself paralyzed when I have too much to do, or when a single task seems overwhelming. The perceived level of effort to complete a task literally plays tricks on my mind. When you are facing inaction:
- Shut off all of your electronics to minimize the noise coming at you from every direction.
- Visualize the outcome you desire for a specific task ahead of you. Just one task.
- Begin with the end in mind. What steps do you need to take to get to your desired end state? Make a list.
- Begin with Step One. Every journey begins with a single step.
Self-pity. Everyone I know licks their wounds, and throws themselves a pity party from time to time. In business, we don’t have the luxury to be that self-absorbed. The world is moving quickly around us, and people are depending on us to have our acts together.
How to Safeguard Against Self-Pity:
I could tell you to practice a Gratitude Meditation, or make a list of all of the things going well in your life, or call a friend who always makes you feel good about yourself. I’m not. My safeguard suggestion is to GET OVER IT.
Complacency. Comfort is the death knell of business. It’s how businesses get bloated with overhead, take their customers for granted, and take their eye off the ball. How do I know this? We won our first Department of Education contract more than 10 years ago after unseating a 10-year incumbent who got complacent and took their customer for granted. We went in to win. They were playing not to lose. There’s a big difference in those approaches.
This danger has never been more prevalent than right now in the government contracting space. My friend and colleague Kevin Robbins is Founder of Wolf Den Associates. In their latest blog, they share six reasons why incumbency is risky, and 10 ways to defend incumbency & protect long term contract opportunities. Efforts to win a contract re-compete begin the day a company receives an award, and continues every day until the re-compete, which is usually years away.
How to Safeguard Against Complacency:
Always assume someone is waiting for you to screw up. There is someone better, faster, cheaper, and newer right behind you, waiting to take you out. Create a culture of customer adoration. Love your customers, and don’t assume they will naturally love you back. Earn their dedication over and over again.
Fear. False Expectations Appearing Real. Fear of our worst case scenarios can suck the life out of us. Truth is, it’s highly unlikely that our worst case scenarios will ever play out in our lives. We give them much more power than they merit, and then we open the door for a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is when fear becomes dangerous. What we put out into the universe manifests in our thoughts, actions, and outcomes. We do become our thoughts. Do not empower your fears.
How to Safeguard Against Fear:
When fear creeps in:
- Acknowledge its presence. Simply by mentally confronting it, you are already diffusing it.
- Create Plan B. And Plan C. And Plan D.
- Remove the concept of “failure” from your mindset. When things don’t turn out as planned, they simply turn out differently.
- Just keep going! Visualize your desired outcome, and suffocate the fear. Remember that Courage is not progress in the absence of fear. It is progress in the presence of fear. My close friend and mentor Willie Jolley engrained in me this mantra: “A Setback is a Set-up for a Comeback.” There is no failing until we stop trying.
There is unlimited greatness within you. You can create the life you imagine. Do not give power to any of these luxuries – you do not have the extra time, energy, or money to feed them. Conceive, believe, and achieve, and the world you desire will be yours.