If only we had a sign!

by Kate on March 1, 2011

Hiking trail sign on green hill
We  are skilled at missing signs; things happen around us and we don’t notice.  The signs we need to see aren’t always easily visible, they can lie in what’s said – or not said. We easily miss them when we are wrapped up in the day-to-day.

Amber alerts can be all around and yet seemingly invisible, until eventually something happens: the bank calls in a loan, a linchpin member of the team resigns, a key customer is lost.

It’s not comfortable, but it happens. And when it does, it makes sense of the words by Ernest Hemmingway: “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually then suddenly”. And very often we look back and wonder why we didn’t notice, or pretended that we didn’t.

Signs don’t always point to problems, of course. We may miss a potentially fabulous customer because their inquiry is indirect, or the special contribution of a team member … or signs the business has emerged from its most recent struggle.

Busyness and daily routine can make it hard to be attentive to what’s going on. This is compounded by our inability to see into our own blind-spots. That’s why it’s so important to develop relationships of trust with those who can illuminate the dark places – and to put aside our resistance to their insights.

Business (and relationships) are improved when we are good at noticing early warning signs and opportunities – and responding to them with courage and decisiveness.

Business review and planning processes help trigger our thinking and put things on our radar, and there’s also a place for some distinctly un-complicated actions:

  • Reflect. On your own! Sometimes personal reflection is all it takes to recognise a pattern.
  • Listen. To yourself and others. The clues are often there in the topics of conversation, words and body language. If only we would shut up and listen!
  • Talk to people.  Take a courageous step beyond structured business meetings to freely discuss what isn’t working or what’s niggling at you. If you’re used to being in control, this can feel uncomfortable. Work through it!
  • Hold back on solutions. Develop the self-discipline and confidence to explore issues and concerns and locate the underlying issue before leaping in with advice for yourself or others.

Please share your thoughts …

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Are you deceiving yourself about your business?
September 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

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1 Durudarshan Dadlani March 1, 2011 at 6:59 am

It’s 2th Feb, so I see you’re one day ahead. You have put some sound advice above. I wish people would actually talk and discuss with other people, even strangers, like we do on Twitter.

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