Recently, I heard of a business owner who has a business that opened in the past six months. The product he sells has people lined up out the door during many of his operating hours.
As I write this message his income is enviable, and he enjoys gong to and from in a big fancy vehicle. He is literally and figuratively on quite a ride.
Only one problem, he is totally unaware that he is heading for a collision. Oh, there are warning signs- enough of them for an aware person to make simple course corrections and avoid the eminent disaster. Staff are walking off the job mid shift. Even though the space is newly remodeled, it is often left uncleaned from one day to the next. Questions from front line staff to management typically go unanswered for days. The busier things get, service becomes noticeably less customer-friendly, etc., etc.
However, each of these issues and others like them are only symptoms of the real problem. The real problem is that the business owner is way too comfortable with the profits and he is almost never present.
In a sense, he has had the misfortune of having started a business that has provided him with a comfortable income from day one. But, give it about a year, until the internal issues and constant staff turnover spills over to the customers in such a way that his revenue and lifestyle take a hit.
Contrast this gentleman with another local business owner who opened a similar business which was also wildly successful from day one. It also had people happy to wait in line for very little long periods of time not only because the product was outstanding, but also because as soon as they got to the front of the line they were greeted by the owner himself who greeted them by name and was just as happy to see them. After only three years he is opening his fourth location and has become a person of positive impact in the community.
It reminds me of a third company just emerging in my area that is now in 28 countries around the world and has a plan to spread from east to west across the U.S. in the next 10 years. Their motto?
“Success is never final.”
It also reminds me of football legend, the late Walter Payton. He never let success make him stupid. When asked why he never developed a signature end zone dance, he said his father once reminded him that scoring touchdowns was his job. He told him,
“When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”
I used the above business owners as nothing more than examples. (Although I hope the first business owner catches on before the crash. He has a great product.) “Money Making You Stupid” made for an easy subject line, but before we judge the first business owner too harshly, we should first understand that it is not the money that is making him stupid.
Success, and the rewards that come with it, bring new opportunities AND new responsibilities. Having discretionary money affords habits that are not available to us when we are living hand to mouth. It also gives us a buffer in which mistakes can be absorbed. Everyone looks smart when things are going well.
When life is easy, we learn with our heads. When times are difficult, we learn with our hearts. There is something about struggling that keeps you sharp and closer to your authentic soul. As the saying goes,
“Stay lean, stay mean.”
Money (or any other comfort) can lull us into a false security and create large blind spots that may overwhelm our situational intelligence. But we always have a choice.
We are bent to succeed. Who doesn’t want to do well and have discretionary income? But we can add much more value to others and save ourselves from self-inflicted pain by practicing non-judgmental self-reflection. We do well to remember that neither our setbacks/failures have to be fatal; nor do our successes have to be final.
PS – Doing this evaluation alone or with others whose life circumstances are similar to our own, may lead us to the same blind spots.
That is why hiring a professional coach, who is not closely attached to your outcomes can help you (and those you serve) enjoy a new level of abundance.