Murphy's Law - are you prepared for his judgement?
Welcome back to our Straight Talkin’ Business series and part two on Murphy’s Law and Home-based Business.
“I’m Surrounded By Incompetence!”
There are times when I feel like a cartoon villain. My well-laid plans to control and dominate are crushed, once again, not by my own hand, but by the action, or inaction, of others.
I am The Brain in a world full of Pinkys.
I am a lone warrior on a crusade to forge forward through life on my own terms, hacking through bureaucracy and strangling layers of red tape like jungle vines, exhausted, sweat dripping from my brow, pushing myself, driving myself ahead to get to a point where I want to be, the point where I should have been months ago, if it hadn’t been for X, Y and Z. It just seems unending, so I keep on going, because I can’t afford to stand still and because if I’m ever to get out of this steaming, wild, unruly jungle and reach that cool, calm clearing, I just have to keep on moving.
Sometimes I wake up and start the day and everything’s just perfect, and I commence my work comfortable in the knowledge that everything is going according to plan and I’m progressing through my to-do list swiftly and efficiently. Then something completely unforeseen happens that blows everything out of the water. And nine times out of ten, that’s just the opening salvo in a sustained barrage of BS…
When it Rains it Pours
There are times when you begin to wonder whether the whole world really is against you.
And you know what? Statistically speaking, it is. We’re all in this system, a system designed to challenge and test the individual, to force compliance, to favour the bigshots over the little guys and to push people to their limits and thus separate the winners from the losers.
That’s just the rat race, however, and the only way to win is to just suck it up and deal with it. It’s when you think that the entire universe itself going against you, when you start joining the dots between one random unfortunate act to another and start to see a hidden hand behind everything, that’s when things get a little…well, that’s when a perfectly acceptable cynical mind turns a bit more beautiful mind – and that’s what you need to avoid.
I’ve gone through this, and every other business person I’ve ever talked to has gone through this at one point or another.
Avoid negative reactions; like the hedgehog reaction – curling up into a ball and remaining motionless – the paranoid gangster reaction, “everybody’s out to get me!” or the ever-popular ranting and raving reaction.
I’ve no qualms telling you that I’ve gone through all of those reactions in the past; I’ve procrastinated when I needed to take decisive action, I’ve panicked when things went wrong, I’ve held back when I should have pushed back because I thought it wiser to avoid confrontation, I envisioned a shadowy cabal of competitors allied against me and I’ve cursed down the phone at crappy ISPs and hosting company employees, frothing at the mouth like a Downfall YouTube mash-up when I should have been exercising restraint.
Why? Because I wasn’t born a businessman, nobody is. Entrepreneurship is a baptism of fire, and the hotter it gets the more resilient you get, your skin gets thicker and you learn how to discipline yourself to learn to control your reactions.
When you have a day job you take crap off your boss and go home, you don’t have the right to make your own decisions, you just do as your told, because that’s life. When you work for yourself, however, you make all the decisions and not all of them will be the right ones.
So you need to take responsibility, not just for your successes, but also for your failures, and when things don’t go quite right, instead of reacting emotionally to problems, you need to rationally seek out solutions.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
When you start off your own business you’re full of excitement and passion, though these initial bursts of energy, motivation and creativity aren’t always easy to sustain. As entrepreneurs we’re independently minded, we’re leaders, not followers, and we tend to be impatient – we want it all and we want it now!
Provided it’s within our comfort zone, that is. We’re naturally excited about certain areas of the business, but tend to be disinterested in, and in some cases even intimidated by, those other aspects which we feel we’re weak at. Examples might include a graphic designer who’s excellent at the creative side but inexperienced in handling his or her own finances or a freelance programmer who’s got incredible technical skills but always feels tongue-tied when the times comes to make a sales pitch.
For a while you’ll wing it, but eventually Murphy is going to weigh in on things and you’re going to have to learn your lessons the hard way. The trick is not to think of it as punishment, but rather a case of tough love.
Naturally it’s going to slow you down, and three months down the line you’re still not past the point where you thought you’d be after just a week because you’ve had to embark on a whole new epic side quest all just so you can get back to the point you started from. If you find that happening to you, don’t fret, it’s just the way things are, nothing worthwhile in life is immediate, the quick fixes and the fast bucks always turn out to be scams, instead you need to remember that…
Life is Not a Rocky Montage
If there’s one thing we associate with the Rocky movies more than anything else, it’s the training montage. Every morning he’d get up and start training, punching meat, running up steps, racing Apollo Creed – each day getting consistently better, faster, getting strong nooooow!
It became not just a cinematic cliché, but a cultural one. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s, particularly, grew up thinking that life was really like that. The montage is a a narrative shortcut, and a misleading one at that. It doesn’t show you the mornings where Rocky’s arms were so worn out that he couldn’t lift his toothbrush, where he got a flu that floored him for a week, where he had to go to stand in line for hours and kow-tow to some slimy little bureaucrat just to get a piece of paper, the hours he spent on hold waiting to dispute a bill or the three days he waited at home for a repairman to finally show up and overcharge him.
These types of things are part and parcel of life, but not the ingredients of a feel-good movie.
In fact they’re precisely the sort of things we watch movies to escape from in the first place.
We can never escape them entirely, of course, but we can edit them out of our own life-montage through the power of memory.
In time we come to look back and laugh at them, those seemingly insurmountable barriers we faced back in the early days which now pale in comparison with our accomplishments.
And, for those days when ever bigger challenges come then you need to face them, well, who better to motivate you than the Italian Stallion himself?