People get in trouble when they surrender personal responsibility for themselves and their decisions. When they do, it is nearly always due to deficits and neglect of personal growth and/or the unhealthy beliefs and emotions that lead to self-destructive patterns of decision-making. Some real life examples (I’ve omitted names and changed some details to protect the privacy of people I respect and care about):
The woman with an Ivy League MBA, a great business mind, a promising company with excellent staff—who approaches her business life as a thinly-veiled, desperate gambit to land a rich, powerful husband, not new business for her firm. She wonders why she’s not taken seriously as a business woman, showing up at business conferences and industry events with a different “fiancé” every couple of years or so. The truth is, no B-school teaches you how to deal with daddy and abandonment issues, or the unhealthy belief that a woman, no matter her accomplishments, is worth less as a single person than she is as a wife (or at least a girlfriend).
Another example: You know that line in Kanye West’s song “GoldDigger” about the football star winning the Super Bowl and driving off in a Hyundai? I know of at least two smart and successful business owners whose personal and business assets are being drained because they thought their CEO title gave them 007 status—a license to kill (with the ladies). Between child support, spousal support and (in at least one case), a sexual harassment suit settlement, their businesses have been hampered by both drained resources and owners distracted by stress and drama instead of being focused on growing their companies.
Okay, how about one real-life example with a real name attached to it: Check the story, shared with Oprah Winfrey on OWN Network’s Super Soul Sunday, of best-selling author of Simple Abundance Sarah Ban Breathnach, who lost a multimillion-dollar fortune due at least in part to her choosing to marry a man she says preyed on her lack of self-esteem.
It is commonly accepted wisdom that a stable, healthy marriage has a strong correlation with business success. But the operative term (and I’m speaking from personal experience here) is not “marriage”, but “stable and healthy.” Recognize the connection between the choices we make with our personal lives, family and other relationships, and our ability to finance, grow and lead our businesses, regardless of our relationship status.
Watch business reality and docu-series such as American Greed and The Profit, and notice how often the problem is not lack of education, business experience or professional skills, but personal growth deficits, unhealthy beliefs, lack of character, unresolved personal issues and poor relationship choices both past and present, including with family, friends and romantic interests.
The single common thread of most successful business leaders is their understanding of the direct correlation between stable personal lives and healthy relationship choices, and their ability to build and run great companies, create wealth, bring value to others and otherwise excel as entrepreneurs and professionals. This skill set, more than degrees, industry experience, connections, great product ideas, and even capital, is the single most critical qualification you must have to be your own boss, not just in business, but in life. This realization is also why I’ve reimagined my life, and refocused my purpose, on helping people to recognize and, if necessary, challenge and change the beliefs, emotions, choices and relationships that can only either serve or sabotage their success.
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