Kelley: How’s It Going?

If you answered, ‘Good,’ but it’s not, here’s why you should reach out to others. By asking for advice, you might help them even more than yourself.

Most of us, as business owners, have “driver” personalities. We will work countless hours to achieve our goals and let nothing get in our way. We focus on the positive and try to eliminate the negative. This mentality can lead to success in the area of focus, but often leaves other areas, both business and personal, left wanting.

Unfortunately, this is a lesson I have learned through hard knocks and the advice of others. I am now, and have been over the years, a member of many groups: business groups, men’s groups, associations and philanthropic groups. Even in my closest group of friends – a weekly men’s group where we meet, talk about our lives and pray together – I find that the core mission of the group is lacking.

That mission should be to help one another succeed. We cannot do this when pride gets in the way. It must be done with openness and honest sharing, what one English novelist in the 19th century called, “to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together…”

Ask a person, “How’s it going?” and you’re likely to get a response such as, “I’m good.” This same person could be facing a life-changing event, and you’d not know until it was too late. This same attitude directly applies to business. I know from experience how easy it is to get centered on a problem, so much so that we imagine that it is uniquely yours. When queried about their business, ASA members also frequently respond with, “It’s good.”

Maybe it is. But they also might have a problem and think that it’s theirs alone. I was shocked when an ASA member called recently to inform me he was selling his equipment and shutting his doors. His revenue had been severely cut by a city project that blocked adequate access to his shop. This had been going on for six months. When I asked why he had told me his business was doing well, and why he hadn’t been at recent meetings, he said he assumed no one had experienced a similar problem. So why bother? He considered us successful, he told me, and it was difficult for him to imagine we also had encountered hurdles – though certainly not his kind.

But what good are associates and friends if we can’t reach out to them in times of need? Can’t we boast about the good times, as well as admit our mistakes and help others avoid the same pitfalls? We’re all human and fail daily. We can, however, use our failures to boost the entire industry.

If others could understand that we have made mistakes and remained successful, perhaps it would help them seek help when they need it. So, humble yourself. Talk about your mistakes and difficulties. The person next to you might be having the same issue, or he might have a solution. We need more talk about success that comes from failure, rather than just talk of success alone.