May 2022
The Leading Edge
Who’s the Boss, When You’re the Boss?


Who’s the Boss, When You’re the Boss?

Remember when you were employed and had a boss? They outlined your responsibilities, set goals and objectives, monitored your deliverables, and reviewed your performance. In short, they made you accountable. Your incentive to perform well was tied to being supervised, motivated, and supported. If you did well, you were rewarded with pats on the back, career advancement, job satisfaction, and possibly pay raises.

Now that you are an entrepreneur running your own business, you no longer have a boss. You are on your own, accountable only to yourself in the short term. In the long-term, you may be responsible to investors and the bank. For some people, self-motivation comes easy; they are driven to succeed, never procrastinate, prioritize as if their life depended on it, and move forward in a straight line toward their goals.

Being our own boss poses numerous difficulties for the rest of us normal humans. It can be tough to be our own boss – we are too close to how we feel and lack objectivity. If you have ever rationalized your actions by telling yourself that you are the boss, you’ll do whatever you want; you might lack objectivity. Test this by asking yourself, “If I had a manager overseeing my work, what would they tell me?”

You have a huge responsibility for your company, employees, investors, and future. It might be time to reassess how well you are doing at managing yourself and elicit an outsider’s opinion. Here are five things you can do to help you be more accountable in your business and gain some objectivity.

  1. Recruit a mentor, friend, or trusted advisor to be your proxy boss. Permit them to keep you honest – with yourself.
  2. Create a job description for your ‘job’ that clearly outlines your responsibilities, deliverables, goals, and objectives. This should be a written document. Imagine you are handing off your role and responsibilities to someone else.
  3. Announce your goals and objectives to your employees, family, friends, investors, your bank manager, and anyone else involved with your company. Doing this will put pressure on you to deliver – people are watching!
  4. Give yourself a monthly performance review. Formalize this by adapting an existing review questionnaire you use for your staff, or go online and adapt one used for the CEO of a corporation. Kick it up a notch by getting your proxy boss (see point number one) to review you.
  5. Join or create a group of other business owners and meet monthly to discuss your progress. In this environment, you can discuss your goals for your company and obtain feedback. Although the members have no power over you, you will feel a degree of accountability if you have to admit at a meeting that you have failed to deliver on what you said you would do at the last meeting. Of course, this is a two-way street; you will also have to do the same for the other members – this too will help with your accountability.

Finally, commit to being brutally honest with yourself. Too often, we make excuses for our actions, or more to the point, non-actions. The first step to being a good boss to yourself is to take a step back and view your performance objectively.

Who’s the Boss, When You’re the Boss?


Taming the Critter in Your Head

In the previous article, we talked about making yourself more accountable so that you can be more efficient. But, what if you are an overachiever, a high-flyer, a workaholic? You’re all set, right? Well, not so fast. Any extreme can be problematic, and the workaholic overachiever is prone to beating themselves up when things don’t go perfectly. It’s been said that perfect is the enemy of good. Do you set yourself high expectations and then beat yourself up when you don’t reach them? Do you analyze situations to death by picking them apart, looking for all the things you could have done differently or better? Do you sometimes blame yourself for something that went wrong, even when it wasn’t your fault?

Almost everyone has a continuous narrative playing in the background, and often it is critical. How controlling is the voice in your head? Try giving the critter a name so that when it starts to nag, sow doubt, or jeer, you know it’s just Crazy Clyde, Nagging Nana, Doubting Thomas, or Downer Dan, not the “real” you. This little trick allows you to see the critter for what it is, a separate part of your psyche. Some people draw a cartoon image to represent their crazy critter and put it somewhere they can see it, to remind them that their alter ego often feeds them false information. In this way, you can deal with it as a distinct entity, not the whole or real you.

Listening to the voice and taking its message to heart is unlikely to improve your performance. It will, however, lead to indecision and second-guessing yourself every step of the way. The voice can also dissuade you from doing certain important things by telling you that you are not good enough or that you will fail.

We are often too hard on ourselves and over exaggerate what we see as a poor performance. We tell ourselves things like, “I always talk too much at meetings,” or “I’m never assertive enough.” The voice in your head likes nothing better than picking apart that presentation you are about to give or that you just gave. The critter thrives on drama and prevents you from living in the present moment. It negatively relives the past and predicts a future of failure. Research has been carried out on audience response and feelings toward an individual attending an important meeting or delivering a presentation, where the person in question thinks they failed miserably. It reveals that audiences rarely spot the mistakes, the blunders, or the lack of confidence that the speaker exhibited because they were focused on the information being delivered.

You will never stop the voice in your head, but you can keep it under control by realizing that its original job was to protect you; it is your shadow-self talking. If you were a caveman, the voice would constantly be warning you of danger. That’s why it becomes more dominant or overbearing in stressful situations. It warns you that you didn’t prepare adequately for the sales presentation you are about to deliver. If you haven’t planned well, then it might be protecting you, but most often, it is promoting self-doubt. If you step back a second and get a little distance from the voice, you can assess the situation and realize that you know your material and will give an entertaining and informative presentation.

Think of your Crazy Critter as the enemy, insidiously promoting negative feelings and attitudes. Or as a mentor that doesn’t always have your best interest at heart – one that promotes a cynical, gloomy view of the world. Our critical inner voice is especially damaging to goal-oriented activities because it becomes louder when we stretch ourselves – going out of our comfort zone. Detrimental Dan, given a chance, will put you down and stimulate self-hatred.

If your version of the Crazy Critter hinders your progress, learn to recognize when it becomes self-critical and stop listening – it is lying to you. Remember that it is encouraging self-limiting behaviour. Take back control and look forward in a more positive frame of mind. Finally, reject everything the voice says that doesn’t align with your best interests.

Who’s the Boss, When You’re the Boss?


Coach's Corner - Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is often a barrier to starting a new business or project, changing career or facing a promotion. However, one should ask oneself – how will I feel if I don’t take that step?

Many people are risk-averse, avoiding taking any risk whether it might lead to success or failure. But, almost any successful entrepreneur will tell you that they failed many times on their way to success. Walt Disney, for instance, filed for bankruptcy in the 1920s, and before him, even Abraham Lincoln had a business failure.

A healthy relationship with failure means not fearing or feeling shame when you fail but instead learning from it and moving on.

Here are some questions which may help you overcome the fear of failure.

  1. What would it look like if you didn’t make the change in your career or start a new business? What does failure look like? What is the price of inaction? Remember, regrets can be worse than failures. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that real failure is not trying something.
  2. What do you fear? How is that fear preventing you from achieving some great business or life goals? If you think about it, you are probably most worried about the fear of change or the fear of the unknown. Or, perhaps, the idea of failing in the eyes of others becomes too great – a fear of shame. Acknowledge your fears and overcome avoidance, and you will be able to take the first steps toward your dream.
  3. Are you prepared to succeed? What does success look like? What steps do you need to take to move towards it? Shift your thinking away from dwelling on your fear to focusing on being successful. Do your research, create a solid plan, look at all possibilities, and focus on the steps you need to take to achieve growth.
  4. What are you going to do to keep focused on the goal? How do you keep your “eyes on the prize?” Keeping your written mission statement or vision close at hand can help keep them front and centre – make them inspirational. The key is to make it a habit to focus on your dream.
  5. Who can help you? Accountability and sharing your vision with others are excellent ways to keep on track. Others have travelled the same journey, so do not be afraid to ask for assistance, advice and support. Finding a coach or mentor is a great way to get an outside perspective.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield, Author

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


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