Every failing bar has a failing owner.
Every failing owner has an excuse.
– Jon Taffer
I’m on vacation this week, so I had some time to watch a little mindless television. I turned on Bar Rescue this morning, and was fascinated. Here is a television show, following a business coach to help failing bars and restaurants turn around their business. In both episodes, it was clear that the biggest obstacle that the owners needed to overcome was their sense of apathy. In the first episode, the owner was clearly dealing with depression over the death of his brother. This is huge, and important to acknowledge, and the owner was finally given the space to acknowledge the pain he was feeling, and how that had impacted his actions and choices. He needed to face that pain, because avoiding it meant he was avoiding everything else that was going on in his life (to the point where there was a dead mouse in the kitchen…).
The second owner/owners weren’t paying attention to the business. They all had multiple other jobs, so they owned the bar because “it was a dream”, but then just left the business on its own. They didn’t manage, curate, support their staff – it was a lesson in bad management. They didn’t give the employees the reasons to care, or the authority to care, and were lucky to have the staff they did have (at least two of the staff members were clearly competent, so the problem wasn’t with them).
Watching this, made me think about how so often in life, we end up avoiding the problems. We don’t do it intentionally. But, to avoid the short duration pain of acknowledging there is a money problem, digging into the books to see what is really there, and then making a plan to get out, we just dig in and don’t think. Its a physical representation of your amygdala taking control, or as Daniel Goleman calls it, an amygdala hijack. We allow ourselves to stop thinking, and deal with the short term problem which causes us to sell our long term visions short. This comes from that place of “I can’t”, or “I’ll do it later”, the excuses that prevent us from taking ownership of a problem. This is what happened to both business owners, and they are lucky to have had the support from Jon Taffer. He was able to help them break down the problems into small steps, and deal with everything. As a coach, he was able to keep both the big and the small issues in mind with every decision, and was able to guide these people through a transition in management styles and how they took ownership of their situation in just a few days.
So, what are the list of things you dream of doing, but are afraid to take action on? Perhaps its exercising more. Perhaps its about how you manage your money. Maybe its over finding new work, or changing how you act as a parent? Come up with that list for yourself – its a perfect time to sit down and take an hour to list out all you want to change in your life.
Then, pick one. Start with one only. Everything else can wait. And determine what you want from this by the end of the year. If it happens faster, awesome and then you can come back to this list later, but stay on target for your one goal. And break it into small action steps. If its a behavioral change you want, determine how you can practice that behavior. Make practice a priority for at least 30 days. Track your progress on the things you control, and take the intention back into your life next year.
We can all let go of the excuses.
Life is hard work, but we will be proud of the work we did, not the things we gave up on because it was too hard.
If you want more help for making serious changes, Leo Baubata has a fantastic set of tools and programs at his Zen Habits site that I recommend.