Tugboats and trains perform distinct and separate functions in real life. Tugboats operate on water. Their mission is to push, nudge and help direct the barges and large vessels that cannot turn very precisely in the confined areas of a harbor. Trains are designed to pull and transport heavy loads over steel rails to a specific destination.
In business, to be successful, you must have both the tugboat and train. You need people who are tugboats. And you need people who are trains. As a personal business coach in Houston and The Woodlands, I have seen successful businesses. the necessity for both over a forty-year career in business.
Faucets and drains are two things designed to work together. Water comes out of a faucet and goes into a sink. Once in the sink, it flows toward the drain and goes away. Or you can stop up the drain and let the sink collect water. As a personal business coach in The Woodlands and in Houston, I look for the faucets in a business such as cash flow, marketing, advertising, operational and financial processes, administrative and management style, and most importantly, the people. And I also look for the drains.
Interestingly, there are several ways to look at faucets and drains in business. A company invests a great deal of money in an advertising program. The money is the faucet. It pours out into the advertising program. The advertising program is wildly successful at bringing in new and profitable sales. The sink, the company’s cash reserves, start to fill up. The drain, which is the money going out for advertising, is slower than the faucet that is bringing in new sales causing more money to back up in the sink.
There is a song by the musical group, Alabama, “I’m in a Hurry.”
All of us appear to be in a hurry. Is that something that benefits us? At times we are in a season of hurriedness. That is understandable. But, if your whole life is that way I suggest that you are missing many things.
The first verse of the song states:
“I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”
One of the biggest challenges I have seen in my personal business coaching practice and in life over the past year is how to meet the challenge that fear, surrounding COVID represents. If there were a perfect answer, I would give it to you, and we could all happily move forward. But there is not.
The ultimate goal in business and life is to first survive and then thrive. Many businesses and individuals have gone from thriving to surviving. And some have experienced the most feared outcome, death.
For myself and my clients, we have fears. The fears are valid. Yet how we choose to act on them is our choice. Once again, if there was the perfect answer on how to react to our fears, I would be happy to provide it. Unfortunately, there is not.
With the advent of COVID 19, almost a year ago in the United States, there has been a transformation in how we look at ourselves, our relationships, work, and as a society in general. Where pre-COVID we trafficked in a currency of confidence and a “can-do” attitude we now use the currency of fear. Fear shuts down connections. Fear shuts down conversations. Fear shuts down moving forward. Fear isolates us. As social human beings this last one, isolation, is the one that has wreaked the most mental and emotional damage.
Fear causes us to grieve. We grieve because we have lost our sense of normal. We may have lost loved ones, our jobs, or our homes. Grief is the death of something. And fear triggers grief because we have lost our sense of normal and at the same time, as we move forward day by day, we have no sense of certainty about the future. In a way we are afraid to step out and move forward.
Grief is everywhere! Our experience with COVID 19 has and continues to bring us grief. In my business coaching practice and in my own life grief is at the forefront.
Grief is the loss of normal. Grief is the death of something. In the businesses I collaborate as well as many others I know all of us are dealing with grief. What was normal, the way we did things is gone.
And when there is a loss of normal it is replaced by fear. We are grieving because we are fearful about the future. In the United States we are grieving as a society because we miss each other. With COVID 19 we are hearing grief in almost all aspects of our society. Why? We are collectively dealing with the loss of the world we knew.
One of the biggest aspects of the COVID 19 experience is the loss of connection with others. As a business coach, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges and some of the benefits that have come to the various businesses I collaborate with.
Obviously, COVID 19 has disrupted the way we do business and as a result, we now look at how we do business differently. One of the biggest changes is the increased number of people working remotely from home. In some cases, this has increased productivity which is good. Is it sustainable? It all depends on the position, the business, and the industry. I believe it is safe to say that in the future many companies are going to reduce their office footprint and have more people working remotely.
Things are different than they were a year ago. This is a huge understatement! The arrival of COVID 19 and the effect on our lives worldwide has been immense. My business coaching practice in the Woodlands and in Houston has given me an observation point to see many businesses and how they have responded to the new world that COVID 19 has wrought.
The great news is that creativity, when it comes to survival is alive and well. The bad news is that in many instances it is not enough to survive. Each business, so to speak, is its own individual boat. When COVID 19 first arrived, some boats were already in a safe harbor. A safe harbor is a place where their business is not going to be severely affected. They are going to be profitable and survive. They will change because of safety concerns as to how they do business but overall, they are in good shape.