Find Your SpiritWhen you're down and troubled,
and you need a helping hand,
and nothing, oh, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me,
and soon I will be there.
To brighten up, even your darkest nights.
You're already singing along with me right now, aren't you. I probably don't have to tell you that that is one of James Taylor's most beloved lyrics from his 1970s song, "You've Got A Friend."
I have been blessed with wonderful, supportive friends. But there have been times when even their support wasn't enough. When I had to call on someone else who was even closer to me than my friends. Me!
Does that sound strange? It shouldn't. Does anyone know you better than you know yourself? The "you" I'm talking about is your spirit. The "you" that drives your body around. The "you" that creates the light that gleams from your eyes. The "you" that is the only thing that's different about identical twins.
How much are you aware of your own spirit? Your spirit is the keeper of your courage, your wisdom, your strength of will, and your humanity. Very important resources for everyone, but especially for small business owners.
One of my favorite Brain Trust members is John O'Donohue, who is also our favorite Irishman. In his book, Eternal Echoes, I found this passage, "When you open your heart to discovery, you will be called to step outside the comfort barriers within which you have fortified your life. You will be called to risk old views and thoughts ... but your soul loves the danger of growth." John is a philosopher, to be sure, and these words certainly do speak to this small business owner. Let's look at some of the words in John's passage:
Small business owners "open their hearts to discovery" every day. It often seems that we wake up in a new world each morning. Oh, sure, we pretty much know what we are going to do each day, as far as our ability to plan personal activity and the resources of our company is concerned. But you can't always plan on an employee not showing up, or a truck breaking down, or a sales tax audit, or a customer's emergency that becomes your emergency.
Of course, surprises are no respecter of persons; all of these things happen to the Big Guys, too. But the Big Guys have so many folks and other resources that the smaller, day-to-day grenades that are lobbed at them barely make a ripple. When the same size ordinance comes our way, there are fewer bodies and assets to absorb the shock. And the damage can be as minimal as causing us to miss lunch, or as damaging as a big expense, loss of an opportunity, or worse.
That's what makes doing what we do so exciting. And that word, "exciting," is very versatile, because it can be used in either the happy sense, or the anxious sense. You are plenty excited (happy) when you get that nice contract you worked so hard for. And there certainly is plenty of excitement (anxiety) around the business when it's been 90 days since the first delivery on that contract, but the first A/R check has not been received from the customer.
The key to our success is often tied to our ability to "open our hearts" to this kind of excitement. Do you look forward to the challenge, or do you dread the news? How you answer that question may depend on how much you have learned to call on your spirit for strength.
The comfort barriers John means are the ones that hold us back. Like "excitement," the word "barrier" performs double duty: barriers offer both protection AND containment. The same wall that keeps you safe from the world also holds you in.
There are no surprises as long as you are inside your comfort barriers. Only when you venture outside of your barriers do you encounter danger. But outside is also where the world keeps it's inventory of opportunity. You can step outside of your "comfort barriers" and claim opportunity from the world if you remember where you keep your courage.
Naturally, as a theologian, John uses the word soul. As a layman I like to use spirit because I think it fits the business environment better. If you have listened to my show or read very much of what I have written, you know how much I think we should focus on the resource our spirit can be for us.
John makes it sound as if your soul has it's own existence, doesn't he? I believe it does. Sometimes it's even a free agent. What does that look like? Your spirit, as I say, is often more open to the possibilities of failure and success than the weenie you is. Your spirit is the "let's make something happen" part of you, while the wimpy you craves comfort.
I believe that knowing which "you" is in control, and learning how to manage the two, is crucial to success in life, not just in business.
The "dangers of growth"? John's right! Sometimes growth can be dangerous. But it can also open up a whole new world. Everything in life has an associated risk/reward ratio. And as I proposed in another article on the subject of risk, sometimes not growing is the riskier alternative.
So where do you get the juice to embrace growth? You know! Call on that "friend" you have inside of you. It has always been there, and it has probably been talking to you. The question is, have you been listening?
I'm going to give you a little break. Identifying and listening to your spirit is not intuitive. And it's more difficult for some than others. I think it takes being conscious of the reserve power available to you from your spirit. But, when you get your spirit's full horsepower working for you, look out world!
Write this on a rock... Learn how to identify your spirit, trust it as your closest friend, and develop an honest and positive dialogue with it. When you do that, you will "discover" that no "barriers" will hold back your "soul's" ability to "grow."