I'm obsessed with the CNBC show, The Profit. Investor Marcus Lemonis descends on a struggling small business, cuts a deal with the frazzled owner, then pumps in the money and crafts a turnaround plan. The displaced boss/owner struggles with the changes and defends the previous losing plan. Drama ensues.
I can relate. We ask for help. Then defend our current failures and argue why the changes will never work.
As a business makeover maven, my clients have sometimes reacted like Marcus'. I'd get frustrated and try to convince them of the wisdom of my ways. "You never would have called me if everything was hunky dory." Or, "If you want a different result, we need to think new thoughts and take new action." All that makes sense. The problem is that, as human beings we aren't often reasonable. We're often stuck and bound by past decisions and habit. It's frustrating and I have struggled to understand why people pay me lots of money to not do anything differently. What's wrong with them?
Hurt and Humbled
Then, my hip blew out. I've been a long distance runner for over 40 years. For a long time, my approach worked. But it wasn't working anymore. Over the course of about a year the pain increased to where I couldn't even stand on my right leg.
Then it dawned on me that a little kid won't run through pain. They run with joy. They instinctively adjust their stride to land comfortably and move forward. They avoid pain, and run freely and efficiently. Working harder won't get me further. There is no prize for the hardest worker. What if I could make it easier?
So, I went back to basics with my running. I relearned how to run. I went to the chiropractor. I got a running coach. I shortened my stride and got a metronome to practice a new cadence. I video taped my stride and made adjustments. Aiming for pain-free, I shift my footfalls to land lighter, and more balanced. I now consciously stand on both feet and don't cross my legs. I've read Danny Dreyer's book Chirunning, and adopted Tai Chi elements into my daily movements. Yesterday, I ran 12 pain free, joyful miles. I was willing to let go of being right to get better.
For stubborn me, when the pain became unbearable, I was finally willing to change. Humbled, I found a mother lode of empathy for my stuck business clients.
The Plight of the Right
What if we could just let go of being right? Break free of what we've always done?
In George Leonard's classic book Mastery, the author reminds us that our natural state is homeostasis. We are designed to not change. Our body temperature is automatically maintained at 98.6 degrees. Our habits provide consistent results and repeated success in so many areas of our lives. Note how easily animals and pets fall into behavioral patterns when it comes to food and shelter. Yet, if we are to grow, or heal, or get profitable, we have to be willing to let go of what once worked. It takes detachment and discipline and more than a few deep breaths. But what's the alternative? I love The Profit, Bar Rescue, and Tabitha's Salon Takeover, and all the Biz Makeover shows, because we get to see how ridiculous it is when we hang on to rope after we have been bucked off the bronc. Sometimes, it's good to let go.
So here's to the pain and power of the beginner's path. Embrace your business as if you were The Profit. Fire yourself, and toss your emasculated self to the curb. Then, dust yourself off and image that you are the new guy. What would you do if you were starting fresh, with the current situation? What is you were willing to let go off all the baggage and start as a beginner?
Perhaps you would find a simpler and less painful path to success. Perhaps you can find some joy and laughter and perspective. Perhaps you could get profitable. It's worth a try or two or three.