I was having coffee with my friend John the other day. He used to be an engineer at one of the local hi-tech companies. A few years ago he’d gotten laid off and gone into business for himself. The minute he hung up his shingle the work started rolling in. That wasn’t too surprising as he had built a substantial network and good reputation in his industry.
John asked if I’d read an article in our local paper about the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, I’d read it. The GGB recently turned 75 but the article had been about its 50th anniversary. That event 25 years ago had almost turned into the greatest man-made accident in human history.
What had been expected to be a manageable gathering and walk across the bridge by some hardy souls turned into a crowd that had swelled to 500 to 800 thousand people (the exact number apparently was never established). They had walked onto the bridge from both directions and had gotten stuck mid-span, unable to move as the crowds kept pressing in.
That wasn’t the worst of it. Apparently the weight of the crowd was such that it caused the cables of the bridge to go taut and the roadbed to flatten out. The bridge would have collapsed if it hadn’t been for some structural changes that had been completed only a few months prior to the event.
“The people on that bridge must have felt like I feel right now” John said. “I feel squashed by all the demands, barely keeping my sanity and head above water. I’m being bounced in all directions, no time for me or my family for that matter. I have no idea how to stay on top of it all. It certainly is no longer as much fun as when I first started. How did this happen?!”.
What happened on that bridge 25 years ago was the result of the kind of leadership that fails to imagine and prepare for scenarios like the one that happened that day.
John too was in a way failing his business. He’d gotten so busy doing his projects, he hadn’t taken the time to look at what needed to be done to create a sustainable business.
It wasn’t his business’ fault. His business was just mirroring back to him what he put into it. One project after the other. John had been working in his business and working in your business will get you nothing more than what you already have – the next project – hopefully!
Are you still going from one project to the next, from client to client. If you are you might want to slow down and take a step back to see what needs to happen for your business to grow and start working on your business.
Most small business owners are familiar with the term working in vs. on your business. And most small business owners keep falling into the working-in-the-business-trap and wonder, like John, why they feel stuck.
No matter what stage your business is in, if you feel stuck take a look inside and ask yourself how much of that stuckness is caused by what you’re telling yourself rather than pointing a finger at the economy or other external roadblocks you can do little about.
This may sound simple but the first step in getting unstuck is to acknowledge that your business is a mirror of you …. and the shift needs to start with you!
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