Let me tell you my story about approval from a business owners’ point of view. While running my cafe I would notice something in every new employee. Their need for approval, and disapproval. As new staff each baristas and cafe staff would receive the one to two week training. After our training period, they were expected to do their job. “Okay, your have our training, we don’t need to shadow you anymore. You are awesome.” Then, I would start to notice the desire for approval. As the owner, I did praise them. It kept them energized, and kept the team together. At the same time, I couldn’t figure out why approval was so necessary given that their experience in life and a job was just starting. Turns out, this is a vignette for every business owner.
Being good at their job was fantastic, but as an owner I didn’t have a lot of time to laud them with compliments. Our day was full: 7am opening to 4pm close, and the prep list and front line list gave everyone structure and tasks to complete. “just initial what you did, so I know it’s getting done” was a common method of approval. And, yes, mix into this, staff showing up late (excused or unexcused), complaining (lots of things to fuss about as a new adult) or feeling ill (Monday, Monday!). These too are on the spectrum of getting attention/receiving disapproval. Why was I caught in needing to hand out approval or disapproval. The phrase, “just do your job” rang loud and clear in my head, and my GM’s voice. But this was their first or second job. They were just starting on the road of adulthood. Until that point, they had been getting approval or disapproval from two main areas of their life: Nurturing from parents and critical approval through school teachers and grading. That was all they knew. So here’s the funny thing: most of us didn’t get the memo: when you enter the work world, outside approval ends. Adulthood starts, and suddenly no one is handing out approval.
Take this to the owner level. As a business owner, you are told, “it’s lonely there”, “you wear lots of different hats”. But again, no one sent you that memo, either. Approval is simply missing. You have to stay centered, you have to find your focus, reset to the original plan, and not waver. That is hard. Customers might approve or disapprove of your product or delivery. Is that your source of approval? Should you follow their comments? Only if it is aligned with your original mission. Fair to say that having that zen focus, and self-approval does not come easy, but if you give it a little focus, you can train yourself to self-approval, and recenter to your goals. I know: easier said than done. Here is are three simple questions to ask when things get foggy
1) Can I find a question or statement that will help me reset?
2) Can I run this business so it becomes more successful, and less chaotic?
3) Can I set aside time each week to make sure I am happy running my business (and that it is not running me)?
It’s my hope and desire that these words seep into your working owner brain. They can help you focus on your business…and avoid getting bogged down in your business.