At some point, every business and every employee seems to fall in a rut or get stuck in neutral. Despite putting in the hours, you’re not seeing the same results.
For an organization, the problem typically isn’t bad luck, bad people or even a bad economy. It could be you.
“Before you can hope to change your company’s fortunes, you have to first change yourself,” says Suzanne Evans, author of The Way You Do Anything Is the Way You Do Everything: The Why of Why Your Business Isn’t Making More Money.
In just five years, Evans transformed herself from a dissatisfied secretary in a dead-end job to the owner of a business-coaching firm on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies. Evans did this, she says, with three things: a willingness to recognize and own her mistakes, a desire to improve and unrelenting attention to every detail.
Here are her eight “tough love” truths for businesses, which can also be applied to your personal career:
1. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Most people think that as long as they get the major stuff right, it’s okay to let the little stuff slide. You’re deluding yourself: Your attitude about the little stuff says a lot about your overall approach.
“It’s all those little details that add up to who you are,” says Evans.
2. Emotions are worthless. Yes, you read that right. Emotions really don’t do you any favors when you’re trying to launch and grow a business.
“You don’t have time to mope all afternoon when you receive an email from an unhappy customer,” points out Evans. “You have to keep moving forward and making smart decisions—and to do that, you need to stop giving your energy to unhelpful emotions. And make no mistake: That’s a choice.”
3. You only think you’re a special snowflake. “Problems don’t make you different; they make you the same as everyone else who has problems—and that’s all of us,” says Evans. “Stop using your ‘differences’ to justify your lack of success.”
4. Playing it safe is for wimps. A lot of entrepreneurs accept mediocrity in order to preserve the status quo. But that attitude can hold you back
“There is no such thing as wild success without going out on some shaky-looking limbs,” says Evans. “Taking a chance at failing might feel scary—but often, that’s the only way to succeed.”
In order to get what you really want, what are you willing to fail at in life, in business, in your career?
5. You don’t have what it takes to do it all. Too many entrepreneurs and business execs think they can do it all. They don’t have enough faith in others in their circle, so they get stuck. Ultimately, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith. Hire the smartest, most capable people you can and trust them to support you.
6. There is no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” Thinking about your business and your career in terms of right/wrong, good/bad, pass/fail isn’t helpful. There is no failsafe way forward; everything is a lesson waiting to be learned. Stop worrying about getting it right or doing it wrong. Throw the rules out the window and do what you think is best.
7. You don’t know as much as you think you do. When you believe that you know it all and are ahead of the pack, you don’t leave much room for learning more. If you don’t actively seek to develop and deepen your skill set—and many entrepreneurs don’t—you severely limit yourself.
8. Goofing off will help you succeed. Sometimes it feels like you’re constantly under the tyranny of the to-do list. Taking a break, taking your eye off the prize, or even (brace yourself) taking a vacation seems like outright blasphemy. Do it anyway. You will get more from the play than from the practical. You’ll always do your best work when you’re relaxed, happy and experiencing new things, not when you’re exhausted and stressed.
Bottom line: Every success you will have is a reflection of your ability to expand your knowledge, to change your approach and to adapt. It's not a reflection of your college degree or even your past successes, but of what you bring to the table each day.