Stop Worrying, Start Living (or a Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur)
It’s a mantra that we’ve all heard but few of us can truly live worry free. Decades ago I actually took a Dale Carnegie course that certainly helped me control worry and live a healthier life. However, the daily travails of owning a business constantly remind me it’s time for a refresher
You may not be able to relate to this if you don’t own a business, but I’m sure everyone can relate to situations that create unnecessary stress. Just last Thursday I was told by one of my employees that a large, long standing, client of ours has something extremely important he want to talk to me about. This was on Thursday. I tried getting in touch with the client on Friday but was unable to connect. Well, you know what that meant. I had all weekend to think about what it is he wants to discuss!!! Ouch, I hate that.
Things that went through my head:
OK, it’s a lot of money but we’ll get over that. Used the classic Carnegie “what’s the worst thing that can happen” technique. OK, reality it’s less that 4% of our income so it really won’t kill us financially. So, why does it still bother me so much? We’ve lost clients before like that and simply rolled with the punches and moved on. No muss, no fuss. Why was this one in particular bothering me? I realized it was not only the potential monetary loss to the company, but the emotions and sadness of losing a great client that we/ I’ve invested so much energy into over the years and built such a strong relationship with. That would be such a sad day to see that end.
And, of course, that wasn’t the only thing running through my/our heads. What if the client wants to talk about recruiting one of our top campaign managers? Hmm, maybe he’s leaving and we’ll have nobody left who “has our back.” Then the guilt trip: Was it something I did? Was it that stupid comment I made in the last meeting that T’d off my clients boss. Oh G-d, I’m going to pay for that one for a long time. Can I live with myself?
OK, so I used another Carnegie technique. Keep yourself busy so you have no time to think about it! Worked well while I was busy and helped, but certainly did not cure. So, finally Monday rolled around and I went to work. That’s always a good way to get away from it all, right? Maybe These past three or four days seemed like an eternity. Finally I got an invite from the client to meet for lunch or happy hour. Oh G-d, now what. I’m going to have to throw up my food while eating with my client while he’s terminating our contract.
Great. How do I react? I don’t know, maybe I should act upset, maybe I should act like I don’t care, maybe we should throw a party for all of the great and challenging times we had together. OK, this isn’t working. I’m still thinking about it. Crap! Not only that, the client thought it was a good idea if I come to the meeting prior to our lunch.
Fantastic, now I’m sitting in the meeting with my client, his co-workers and boss. Looking around the room, do they all know the axe is coming down? Are they just offering Seattle polite small talk to comfort me before the kill? “Hi Jon, do you still have your Element?” Ha…Ha…..Ha……..
OK, by now you probably have guessed the end of the story. I lived to see another day. The client just wanted to give me some helpful advice about a direction we can take. Wow. I was totally relieved and couldn’t stop smiling. But, all of that wasted worry! What can we all learn from that? I don’t know the answer, but it’s the worry that will kill us and minimizing it that will help us live more healthy lives.
Now the only thing I’m worried about is the client reading this post. Maybe it’s time to take a refresher course.