Do you ever catch yourself wishing your biggest business frustrations would just disappear?
How about hoping your customers would just pay you on time?
Maybe your dream is for every employee to show up on time, finish all their tasks without a problem and thank you for all you do on the way out the door!
This frustrating pursuit of happiness can be called the “ If-Then Fallacy”. It’s basically some version of:
If some business challenge I can’t control would go away…
Then my business life would be happier.
It is like a sailor whose belief is if the seas would just calm down, they could happily sail along on their journey.
How do you think that strategy works for the sailor?
More importantly, how is it working for you?
There is another option. We call it “Learning to surf”!
We adapted it from the advice for a better personal life from Jon Kabat-Zinn:
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.
The waves are the uncontrollable factors, and they keep coming. It is futile to pretend they won’t. But we can learn to adapt to the waves that come. The first thing we need to change is our mindset and response to the waves. We need to embrace them and accept them.
When the waves come, the frustrations are real. Customers don’t pay and employees show up late and make mistakes. We can’t control the uncontrollable, but we can let go of the frustrations they create. Another metaphor that helps us separate and understand the mindset from the strategy is about spilled milk.
If the milk spills, you still need to clean it up. But you have a choice how you want to react to the milk spilling.
If you freak out about the milk spilling, how does that help you? Is it realistic to think milk will never get spilled again?
We can actually choose to let go of the negative reaction to the spilled milk.
It’s just a feeling created in us and it is separate from the next action of cleaning up the milk.
For clarity, it is the feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment around the spilled milk that take us down. We have a choice just to let these feelings go. Once we let go of all that bad energy, finding a business solution becomes easier!
If we can eliminate our feelings of frustration with clients who don’t pay, we can figure out an improved strategy for the next time this occurs.
If stop being frustrated with employees when they disappoint you, we can better determine a business strategy that helps them become better employees.
Action solves anxiety. It takes practice to break out of the old mindset and break the bad habits, but it is worth the effort.
Plan for the waves to come. Expect some milk to spill again. Practice letting go of the feelings they bring and focus on the business strategy to address them when they come. If you learn to surf, your business life becomes better. The best surfers don’t just handle the biggest waves, they enjoy riding them!
If you embrace this mindset and strategy every business day, something counterintuitive happens. When you let go of the frustrations around the things you can’t control, you end up having more control!