“Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil” – Job 14:1.
I took a leap of faith (!) in starting this article with a scripture from the Bible as, for some, it may raise a similar reaction to if I’d quoted from Mein Kampf.
But, you can’t (entirely) waste a theological upbringing and this ancient verse is especially apt when applied to running a modern business.
Recently, two clients have used exactly the same word, ‘turmoil’, when describing their current professional life to me. By the way, that was before the coaching, not after!
Interesting term, the dictionary defines turmoil as “a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty”. For the clients in question, it was a perfect choice of word.
When starting a new business the reasons are usually simple and straightforward, it’s often exciting, edgy and empowering, but that easily becomes obfuscated in a world of complexity and we lose the original purpose and the initial passion we had when starting our business.
Just consider some of the things we’re expected to know and contend with: Gig economy, Growth Hacking, Brexit, Intellectual property rights, disruptive business models, cyber security, A.I, Globalisation etc. Many of these terms were unheard of until very recently but add one more layer of confusion and disturbance to what is already a complex responsibility.
Throw in the ‘business as usual’ areas around brand, delivery, marketing, sales, customer experience, managing people and budgeting and little wonder that many people in business think of ‘turmoil’.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! In so many ways, running a business is like being in a long-term relationship. At the start you’re simply happy to be united together, it feels like you have a common purpose, it feels fresh, sometimes intense and you get an emotional high.
However, after a few years together, once you throw in homes, mortgages, in-laws, kids, dogs, jobs, health issues and a leaking sink and suddenly the relationship feels so different. What’s often needed is for the couple to get back to the basic foundations of their relationship, why they got together in the first place and revisit their hopes and aspirations, perhaps on their own, or maybe with professional help.
And it’s exactly the same in business. Often, the starting point is asking a series of simple, open questions, where you can get back to the foundations, re-focus and concentrate on the most important aspects of why you’re in business.
- Where are you going?
- When do you want to get there?
- Why are you doing this?
- What milestones will you put in place to direct you?
- How will you succeed in getting to your destination?
- Who can you rely on to support you?
Of course, providing the answers is not always as easy as asking the questions, but once you know the right questions, the right answers usually follow.
In business, as in life, taking a simpler path can be the best way of avoiding turmoil. Sure, there will always be those who warn against this approach. There are some who enjoy complexity, believing that knowledge is power and the more complicated you can make business sound, the more in demand they will be, as keepers of the specialist knowledge.
But, in my experience I constantly find that that concentrating on the ‘vital few’ areas makes for a simpler business life and a more fulfilled business life. And I’m never more content than when I can help a business owner strip away the complexity, rediscover the purpose and passion and thus end the turmoil.
Working in business should be fun, rewarding and satisfying. But to be all that, you have to keep asking the right questions, remember your original reasons for doing what you do and ensure you keep true to your values.