Zachary Aldwin - Milkshake in the Boardroom
I woke this morning and drew back the curtains to find it grey and overcast outside. A drip from the gutter reinforced the fact that there was a fine drizzle that hazed the view. Inwardly I groaned at the thought of another dull day; the drip in the drainpipe echoing the drip of heaviness in my heart.On the way to work a streetkid, braving the damp in his tattered clothing, knocked at my window.
Drip. I got held up at no less than three roadblocks checking for radio licences. Drip. The headlines that I drove past screamed of turmoil and shortage.
Drip. I got to the office to find that a large order had just been cancelled.
Drip. My bank had emailed me to inform me that another piece of paper was required in order to fulfil an external payment.
Drip. The rent was due. I could go on. The continual drip of negativity and pressure is a slow attrition on a man’s soul.
Attrition has multiple meanings in business. At its basic level attrition refers to loss and wearing down.
Staff attrition refers to the voluntary leaving of staff due to events like retirement or seeking greener pastures.
Client attrition refers to the loss of clients from your business and is a metric some businesses track.
Attrition of the soul, however, you are not going to find in a list of business definitions.
It is the wearing down of the drive and desire of a person.
It is subtle and lethal to businesses. If it remains unchecked it can lead to the tipping point where someone just throws in the towel with their business – even if there was still a chance of the company surviving the pressures it is under.
This is the effect that leads to one last straw causing someone to crack under pressure with an “I just can’t take it anymore”. Let’s be honest – we are all under a lot of pressure these days.
We will all have days when we wake up to find that our “get up and go” has already got up and left before we could get started with the day.
How do we survive the situation when the pressures of life and work threaten to make this a daily occurrence?
Start with a clear and passionate vision that is stronger than your trials. Focusing on the daily and menial can take your focus off the vision you had when you first started the company.
Cynicism replaces exuberance as stumbling blocks come your way. Rekindle the spark. What are you passionate about?
What makes you leap inside? Focus on that. Perhaps you need to re-tweak the plan or look at fulfilling the vision in a slightly different way.
Attitude matters in an attrition rich environment. Seeing opportunities rather than failures is often a matter of perspective.
That cancelled order can free you up to take on another project. That product you are having to import – perhaps there is an opportunity for you to manufacture it locally.
Yes, it will take effort to stay positive in the face of so much. One way is to embrace thankfulness.
Gratitude resets your internal focus. Be grateful for the work that you do have rather than whining about how much you do not have.
Be grateful that you have staff that are loyal enough to tolerate a few days delay in their salaries – and then pay them.
On the topic of staff, it is easier to stay positive if you have a positive company culture. If all your managers and employees are complaining alongside you at the unfairness of life, the economy and the universe in general it is easy to have a “pity fest” (I really wanted to use another less than savoury word here, but propriety and common decency prevents me from doing so).
Your vision needs your culture to survive. Reinforce those behaviours that promote the reaching of your vision and goal.
Embrace a strong external support network. This could be your church, your friends, and your family.
We are not alone on this road through life, nor do I think we are meant to walk it in isolation. Like-minded people with similar values and a positive outlook on life can pick you up when you are feeling down.
Every now and again we need to ride on someone else’s faith for a short while till we are strong enough to step out on our own.
Likewise there are people around you who may need a word of encouragement from you to help them get through their day.
The drip will probably be around for a while. There will always be circumstances that can wear you out if you are not careful. Build inner resilience and perseverance in order to survive.
One last tip here. There are certain health issues that can make it harder to be positive as they sap your energy.
Parasitic infections, low vitamin levels, and a myriad of other conditions can make life very difficult and you may not be aware that you have them.
If you are not well physically it is an extra burden that adds to the drip on your soul. Go see your health care provider, get checked out and treated appropriately. Then with renewed vigour take on the world.