The One Question You Should Constantly Ask Yourself
Stress. If you are a business owner or in leadership you will eventually face it. There are a number of causes. It could be frustration that employees aren’t performing the quality of work you expect. Maybe it’s constant worker conflicts that boil up and are dumped in your lap. Underperforming sales will also place a lot of stress on any organization.
Then there’s the personal stress. Work and personal life aren’t easily separated especially when you are the owner. Vacations end up being work away from home when constant phone calls and emails flood your phone and laptop. What’s worse is stress from work impacts other family members as well as you. More often than not I am brought in to help a business owner who is at wits-end because the pressures of work and family life are becoming too much to bare. Usually pressure from a significant other is the reason an owner reaches out. As we start working together one simple question usually kicks off our conversation.
What Do I Want?
Simple question isn’t it. However it’s not always easy to answer. At its most basic level, what all of us want is to be happy, improve our quality of life, have enough money to pay our bills, and support our families. To really answer the question involves a deeper dive. There are also many facets to how you respond. Are you talking about your personal life or is this related to how your employees work together. Knowing what we want, and being able to visualize it, can be very challenging when under stress.
Breaking It Down
Asking what you want is a grounding question. When applied to a particular scenario it can help a leader resolve issues. It can be a tactic for visioning. Ultimately it becomes the basis for caretaking an action plan to achieve the outcomes that owner wants. For the best results asking what you want has to be framed in the context of the issue causing the stress.
Recently a client was struggling with an employee conflict that was affecting an entire department. As usual, the situation escalated to the owner because his team didn’t have the tools to deal with the issue so it ended up in his lap. If you are a leader you have probably experienced the frustration of employee problems constantly moving upstream for you to resolve. You probably also know that if you don’t coach your team to handle conflict effectively you are placed in a difficult position where there are no winners.
As he explained the problem I asked him the question, “What do you want?” He was able to articulate his vision of how his team should work together. From there we worked through several questions of what needed to change, who should be responsible, how would people be held accountable, and so on. By the time we were done we had an action plan for the owner to implement with his manager and the team. Now, the client’s go to question is first asking himself what he wants so he can focus on potential solutions and an action plan.
The Prison Break
Business owners start companies for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s by choice. Other times life events such as being let go from a job can force a person into entrepreneurship. Either way, if the business shows signs of success the owner can see the enterprise as the opportunity for freedom. The ability to control your destiny is a powerful draw and when the business is growing and profitable the quality of life can increase. For many owners time has a way of changing the vehicle of freedom into a prison that traps us. Time with family, travel, and breaks from work are replaced with employee calls, emails, and continuous fires. Spouses complain you’re never around, or when you are that you are always working. The lines between the office and the dinner table blur. The freedom remains a dream. The question what do you want is the start of an escape plan to find that freedom you always wanted.
Get Started Today
If you find yourself in entrepreneurial prison you too can escape. Need help? Try the What Do I Want Worksheet. This is a tool to get you started. If you need more help, please feel free to contact me directly. Go to the worksheet link HERE.