What can you do when you can’t seem to do anything? This has happened to me many times on both a business and personal level and it can be quite frustrating.
Maybe you are waiting for a call or for someone to get back into town. Perhaps it is a product you are waiting to arrive in your warehouse or a service that has not been performed yet that is tying your hands behind your back. There are a million and one reasons why we get what I call, stuck on stupid.
A great example happened to me yesterday. Though it was on the personal side and not the business side, the tools we can use to overcome this situation are the same…
Yesterday evening I was at the physical therapist to continue treatment for an injury I have with my left shoulder. Since being treated for my shoulder injury, I have had to cut back on all workouts with my upper body until I can build up the strength again. I can’t work out my right side because it is already stronger and bigger and I need my left to get stronger so it balances itself out and catches up with my right. I was hitting the heavy bag before the injury, which is my favorite workout and had to stop and switch to the treadmill which is quite a bit less exciting to me, but I have adapted over the last four weeks since I started the therapy.
This week however, I went to my hip surgeon to look at an old nagging basketball injury, so I came to physical therapy for treatment for my left hip as well as my shoulder. When I was done with my session, the therapist advised me that I needed to stay off the treadmill as well for a few months until the inflamed tendon in my hip could settle down. I looked at him and asked, so what can I do? He told me that, unfortunately, having an upper and lower body injury puts me in a bit of an impossible spot, as I can’t work the top or bottom of my body. Even though both injuries are on the left side, the treadmill, stair-master, elliptical etc. works both the left and right side which eliminates that option , and the few ways to do cardio for the arms is set up to use both arms, so that eliminates that option as well. I was quite frustrated. Mild understatement.
The following five things are what I did to solve this problem as best I could and how it can be applied to your business:
1. Step Back, Gather Yourself and Avoid Panic Mode
Like I said, I was beyond frustrated. I went to the lounge in the gym and sat at a table and reflected a bit on the situation. I took inventory of the situation and kind of sat with it for a bit as I tried to calm down and make some sense of what I could do. I had half a mind to leave the gym, not work out and go home mad at the world, but making a decision in a negative emotional state clouds one’s judgment.
Whether it is business or personal, a rushed and panicked mind makes mistakes. It is necessary to take a step back, take a breath, and gather yourself before making any decisions when in the wrong frame of mind as you don’t want to do something you will regret .
2. Call a Friend Or A Colleague
When I was sitting in the lounge and couldn’t find the answer I was looking for, I called some friends. I told them the situation and asked them if they had any suggestions. Reaching out to someone, whether it is a business or a personal matter is always a great thing as it gives you the ability to get an objective opinion.
In business, calling a business colleague or fellow entrepreneur is a great strength. Many people try to solve all of their problems on their own but I don’t agree with that way of thinking. This is one of the reasons for having a Board Of Directors. Getting various opinions from different perspectives is a great way to get out of your own head to solve problems and move forward.
3. Turning The Negative Into The Positive
The next step, once you relax and gather yourself a bit is to look for the lesson. I was taught a while ago that there is a lesson in everything and once you find that lesson, you can spin any seemingly negative circumstance into a positive one. You just need to look hard enough and know that the lesson is there. Step one (mentioned above) will allow you to get into this state as if you rush and panic you will not find it.
The positives I found were as follows… While I couldn’t do my normal heavy bag workout, I realized there was nothing preventing me from putting the glove on my right hand and hitting the bag. So I let my left arm relax and proceeded to hit the bag countless times until I couldn’t throw another punch and got the cardio I was looking for. That took care of that.
As far as working my muscles and knowing I couldn’t use my top or bottom I thought, what about my middle? I hadn’t done sit-ups forever, as I don’t like doing them even though I know how important they are as they work what is called the core. So that is what I did until I couldn’t do them anymore.
So I managed to flip a potentially negative situation into a positive one and an opportunity to work on some weaknesses I had been avoiding and turn them into strengths. This is also a great lesson in how entrepreneurs turn failure into success .
The same rule applies in business. If you are stuck on waiting for production (for example), is there something you can do in marketing that you have been putting off? If production and marketing are covered, is there something you are lacking in your sales efforts? Can you work on your finances? This brings me to the next one…
Doing a balance check is crucial for both your business and personal life. The therapist told me the only real thing I could do with my bad leg was stand on it (with the good one up) and see how long I could balance myself. This would, in turn build and strengthen all the stabilizer muscles around the injury, which would take the pressure off the weak area.
In business, the same rule applies. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts (although if you are in the private equity market your opinion may vary on this and we can fight about the issue another time!)
Truth be told, businesses, just like people, often focus on their strengths and disregard their weaknesses. When you can’t focus on your strengths, you have the great opportunity to focus on your weaknesses. In this case, it was all about giving time to let the weak area recover by building up the areas that support it so that they can eventually all combine forces and work together with complete strength.
In my business there were always five departments: Design, Marketing (advertising, PR, etc.); Production; Sales; and Finance. It was my job to make sure that all departments worked together as one strategic unit. If your sales are great, for example, look at your cash flow, your receivables, your payables, your fixed costs, your variable costs. Your sales are your sales and your profit is your profit. Too many companies focus on revenue without realizing that they are spending more than they are taking in. So work on your balance!
5. There Is Always Something To Do
All in all, I found out from this that there is always something to do even if you think you can’t do anything or you think everything is done.
If you think you have done everything or can’t do anything, think about what you can do as it you will get clarity relatively quickly. How about organizing your desk a bit to give you a clearer head? Or maybe call a client who you haven’t had the time to thank them for their business? Maybe you need to back up some files to make sure they are in more than one place. Maybe you need to call a creditor or pay a bill that you have been putting off?
And if you still think you have done all of those things or there is nothing left to do, then how about go to the gym, workout and clear your head. After all, that’s what I did and I was told I couldn’t do anything! What’s your excuse?
Have a great day!