Getting Motivated By Pain

I am in pain. Massive pain. I have a pinched nerve in my neck and it radiates pain across my collar bone, to the top of my arm and all the way down in a special electric current to my wrist and finally a ball of fire to my hand. It started two weeks ago for no apparent reason except for the fact I slept wrong in a funny position one night and then it got progressively worse. Each day it hurt more and I started to take steps to solve it at first on my own, and then later with medical professionals.

As I have gone through this experience- I realize there are many parallels to running or working for a successful business. Below are the mistakes that I made and the business mistakes I see many making every day along with the business lessons learned. Maybe it is time to check on the nervous system of your business and get a checkup.

Mistake #1- Red-eye flight from LA

About three days after my neck and shoulder started hurting I took a red-eye flight overnight from L.A to Philly. I was crammed into a window seat for my direct flight which was crowded hot, and I didn’t sleep much. I feel asleep against the window and tossed and wiggled in the small space I had as mine. At 6:00 am on a weekend morning I landed stiff and sore. Why do I think I am Teflon? That I can abuse my body and not have consequences? That I can do it all? (By the way I work for myself so the pressure is self imposed.)

Business Lesson Learned

Why do we push our team so hard they start to break down physically? I have conducted many training classes lately were someone (an employee) arrived for class sick as a dog. Is that expected of them? Can you learn anything when you are sniffing and sneezing? I know many companies where people are expected to call in to conference calls when they are on vacation and answer emails the whole time they are gone. Why? Don’t we know people do need to take breaks? Do you see yourself in this mirror? I just think we need to start drawing some lines somewhere. When people are driven to burn out- productivity doesn’t go up it goes down.

Mistake #2- Treat it with heat

I started laying on the heating pads for my pain, using both heating pads and those patches you buy and attach to the spot like a personal remora to cure the pain. My pain shark wasn’t having it. Nope- it made it worse. Once I talked to my Chiropractor and my family Doctor both of them said I did the opposite of what I needed to do (I should have been icing it.) Whoops. I now wish I would have done the research first before jumping in trying to solve it.

Business Lesson Learned

How many times do we address the wrong area, applying massive effort (sales are down- it must be our sales people) only to find it is not the problem? A recent client wanted to address the “morale problem” of the team but not the lack of communication skills of several of the team leaders. Take the time to talk to everyone involved and do the research before jumping in too fast.

Mistake #3- Massage from heck

On Sunday I was in agony. Pain. Full. I decide to get a massage to “work out” the muscles that were causing me so much pain. They worked me over like I was a ‘57 Chevy on the TV Show Overhalin’. As they say in the south “they tore me up.” It was the most painful 20 minutes of my life. I just kept thinking it was going to get better- but just kept hurting worse. My lizard brain was screaming “make them stop!” and my logical brain was saying “this is good for you.” I should have stopped after five minutes and left. Come to find out they were pushing and grinding on my nerve in my neck and making it worse.

Business Lesson Learned

Sometimes our instinct in the world of business is saying “ this doesn’t feel right.” Yet if the numbers, the P&L, the money, the resumes of the parties involved and their backgrounds and pedigrees all look great then we choose to ignore our own voice. We do this at our own peril. Years after you dissolve a business partnership people still say “I never knew what you saw in your partner.” Oops. After you drop a vendor hundreds of customers tell you how shabbily they were treated. Ouch. We need to listen to the voice in the back of our head- that is why we have it to begin with.

Mistake #4- Not resting

Right now instead of writing this article, I guess I should be resting. Instead of working. Maybe. Yes. No.I don’t know. The central point is when you own your own business it’s just you and the reason you are successful is the drive that is there. If you work for an organization you are successful because you have a work ethic and an innate sense or responsibility. As the old saying goes, you are only as good as your last month.

Business Lesson Learned

I think we need to figure out when to rest and when not to. In today’s shaky economic world maybe we feel like we can’t. So when do we rest?

So we need take some time to think through what we are doing and how we are doing it. But not at a shallow level a more in depth level- really look at the nervous system of our organization. I have to go fill up my ice pack.