Who do you blame when the you-know-what hits the fan ...
- Clients and customers? Man, they just keep asking for stuff!
- Employees? How many times do you have to tell them?
- The economy? Gah, the government is running everything into the ground!
Now, let me ask you: When’s the last time blame solved anything in your business? I know the answer, and so do you. Never.
There’s a reason you fail, and it has nothing to do with clients, customers, employees or the economy. It has, however, everything to do with you.
Your Victim Story
Somewhere along the line, most of us learned that it was easier to blame someone else than take responsibility when things went wrong. Maybe it was during childhood. (When I was doing the talking, my brother and sister’s lists of sins were always longer than my own.) Maybe it was college. (Remember when “your friends” kept you out all night before that big exam you failed.) Truth is, it doesn't really matter when the blame game started; what's important is that it ends.
When you choose to play the role of victim—and yes, it is a choice—you’re telling the world that you’re willing to not be in control. I was just at a conference and heard venture capitalist Kamal Ravikant speak, and he had a beautiful way of reframing the Victim Story:
Life happens for you not to you. So, the next time "stuff" hits the fan, ask yourself:
- Where did this challenge originate?
- What was my role in allowing this challenge to remain a challenge?
- What did I learn from this challenge?
- How can I prevent this challenge from becoming a repeat challenge?
Notice there’s no blame in those questions. They’re introspective and nonjudgmental, designed solely to turn current challenges into lessons. That’s a heap more productive than blame. The next step, though, is to make sure you’re measuring success the best way possible.
I work with some amazing advisory clients. My job isn’t to tell them what they want to hear. Rather, it’s to listen, intuit and share with them the plain truth as I see it. Many times, that involves truths they don’t want to hear.
The most common truth? They’re measuring their success using someone else’s ruler.
Whether you run a startup in Silicon Valley, a suburban coffee shop, or a small services company from your living room, it’s only natural to compare yourself to other more successful businesses in the same vein. But here’s the problem with that: No two businesses experience the same growth patterns, or share the same clients, geography, suppliers or—most importantly—leaders.
I want you to really think about how you're measuring your business, and why you chose those metrics.
We have a habit of setting ourselves up for failure when we decide to use someone else’s achievements as our bar for success. How about shifting your definition of success to be more in line with what you really want? Use these two questions to help you set goals specific to your business and desires.
What do I want my life to look like when I wake up each day? Maybe your goal isn’t to build the next Starbucks. Maybe it’s more to be the best damn coffee shop in your neck of the woods, loved by solopreneurs for your fine lattes and lush seating. Maybe you want to make sure you never miss another one of your son’s soccer games. Perhaps you see a bike ride in the middle of the day along the lake. By asking what you want your life to look like, you’re setting yourself up to feel success the next time you see your son kick that ball into the goal and feel the lake breeze in your face.
What do I want my business to look like in five years? We’re often pretty shortsighted in our business goals. We plan by quarters and one-year time frames. We’d do ourselves a better service by planning for five years out. When I’m faced with daily business decisions, I ask, “What is the decision that will get me closer to where I want my business to be in five years?” By getting a clear picture of the future of your business, you can avoid time-wasting derailments that don’t get you closer to that goal. You also avoid making decisions that match someone else’s version of success.
The next key is to change your behavior pattern, putting blame out to pasture for good.
Stop Blaming And Start Succeeding
We’ve been blaming longer than we’ve been owning, haven’t we? There’s no magic wand I can wave that will alleviate your predisposition for blame. Owning your path is a daily challenge. It’s one worthy of undertaking and has brilliant rewards waiting on the other side.
When we drop the Victim Story and realize that life happens for us and not to us, there’s a powerful perspective shift that happens. Suddenly, we’re able to see probability instead of possibility.
I don’t know about you, but I like probability a whole lot more.
We fail because we allow the Victim Story to take over. Maybe we feel as if we don’t deserve to be successful—and I see this belief deeply embedded in some of the world’s most incredible entrepreneurs. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that whatever we believe, it will likely in some way come to pass.
How can you change your mindset?
Make a list: At the top of the page, write the words, “I deserve.” Underneath, make a list of all the things you deserve—in life and in your business. It’s incredible what can happen when you’re honest with yourself about what you want.
Ditch the word “dream”: Dreams are ethereal. Unattainable. I prefer to think in absolutes. I’ve replaced my dreams with "I Wills." Suddenly, success is lurking over the horizon, and if I reach, I can grasp it. I'm also tired of "somedays." Today's a pretty good day.
Stop the “one more thing” mindset: Have you ever accomplished a long-awaited goal and found yourself saying, “I’ll really be successful if I can accomplish <insert one more thing>”? You’re successful today. Success happens every day if you’re willing to see it. Or, you could be a stick in the mud. Let me know which one feels better. Give yourself credit for incremental victories and stop deferring happiness.
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