Jerry Osteryoung: Guest Columnist
Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.
As a consultant, I have people come to me and ask me to show them how to fix their problems, from financial to employee issues. I typically meet with these entrepreneurs who pay me to assist them, and I write up a report that lays out how they can rectify their problems.
I have been doing this for more than 30 years now, and I am always bothered by the fact that very few of my solutions are ever implemented. This has given me a lot of self-doubt over the years. Were my recommendations poor, or was my approach inappropriate? Questions like these nag at me constantly as I try to understand why so many of my recommendations are simply not followed.
The same thing happens when I lead a strategic planning session with small businesses. Everyone buys into the goals and objectives for the strategic plan, but very few of them get put in action.
Recently I came across a great article by Mark Manson entitled The Most Important Question of Your Life. In this article, Manson posits on the very same kinds of questions I have been ruminating over and offers an answer that I believe explains why so many people do not achieve the things they really want in life and do not follow the great advice they are given.
It is so glib to tell people they can be anything they want. I cannot tell you how many times I heard this from my parents. The real question is not what you can be but what you are willing to pay to accomplish. This is not discussed very much, but it should be. Maybe what we should all be talking about is how much pain we are willing to tolerate to get what we want.
I recently asked my small business startups class what they are willing to give up in order to have a successful business. A surprising number of students did not have a realistic idea about the number of hours that would be required nor did they consider how much their lifestyles would need to change to have a successful new business.
After we discussed these realities, many students said they were having serious doubts. They were not sure they were willing to tolerate what it was going to take. Basically, the cost-benefit ratio was out of kilter for them. They thought the costs might not be worth the benefits. Of course, this is okay. Everyone is different when it comes to their ability and willingness to handle struggles.
So often, we want the outcome, but we are not willing to pay what it costs. Just think about how many times you have tried to lose weight and started an exercise program or diet only to be unsuccessful?
Consider an Olympic swimmer. Winning a gold medal seems so neat and worthwhile until you hear how many hours the swimmer had to spend doing laps every day.
In order to be successful, you must deal with the pain and struggles of getting there, and your willingness to do so is something you really need to evaluate at the beginning of the journey.
For example, I enjoy playing tennis a lot, and I enjoy watching the professionals compete on TV, but I know I could never be one of them. I am just not willing to devote my life to tennis, and that is okay because my objective, which is to enjoy tennis, is congruent with the time I am willing to put into it.
So many of the entrepreneurs I have worked with have not grown their businesses even though they clearly knew how to do it. They were just unwilling to go through the pain of growth, which would include having to deal with more employees and the associated financial risk.
Now go out and ask yourself what additional struggles you are willing to tolerate to get the rewards you want out of your business. This is a very effective way to identify the objectives you want and can accomplish.
You can do this!