The Entrepreneurial 2×4

Building a successful business requires human interaction at many levels. We’ve all seen the stereotypical entrepreneur who is moving fast and speaks in a short-clipped manner. He (or she) is the picture of efficiency and wastes little time in getting down to brass tacks. Sometimes this entrepreneur can be seen as brash and even a little bit arrogant. He (or she) often wears this description as a badge of honor. This might be a typical conversation with a member of the team. “Matthew, this is not your best work. It’s sloppy and totally misses the mark. You can and must do better. I’m very disappointed in you.” The entrepreneur might see this as brutal honesty. But is it productive?

Carol Burnett talks about her storied career in show business. She reminisces, “Back in the day, the men – Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar and Milton Berle – if they said: ‘Hey guys, this sketch sucks. Get with it! What’s the matter with you?” they were fine because they were guys. But if a woman did it, she would be labeled a bitch. So I tap-danced around it a lot.” Burnett went on to say, “If a sketch wasn’t working, I’d call the writers down to rehearsal and I’d say, ‘can you help us out here? I’m not saying this right. Maybe you could come up with a different line that would make it easier for me to get a laugh.’”

In his book, The Culture Code, author Daniel Coyle introduces a concept that makes a lot of sense for entrepreneurs to adopt. He contrasts Brutal Honesty with Warm Candor. Warm candor is the notion that we can still make our point – very clearly – without causing another person to feel small and unworthy. Feedback can be delivered without tearing down that person in a de-motivating manner.

How do we move toward a more “Carol Burnett-style” of offering warm candor and not be namby-pamby about the message we want to deliver? I believe it starts with our everyday personality. Are we generally positive and upbeat? Are we always looking for the good in every situation? Do we acknowledge others and give them pats-on-the-back when they are deserved? Or are we generally assaholics who are negative about everything and complain incessantly? Are we such perfectionists that nothing is ever right . . . and our team members know it?

If we embrace the positive personality previously described, candid conversations with members of our team can be very constructive. I rarely ever tell someone I’m “disappointed” in him or her. If I do use the term, it’s that I’m disappointed about something – but not in that person. There are other key words and phrases that are unnecessary. Attacking someone personally may seem like brutal honesty, but it’s just mean-spirited and serves no purpose. I’m not looking for a confrontation. I simply want to provide feedback that is factual and will help my team member do better next time. I try to communicate with empathy. If after multiple attempts to coach the individual on how to step-up and there is still no progress, then I have no problem starting the transition process for this team member to exit the organization. But there’s no reason that I can’t show a level of respect at all times that allows the team member to maintain his or her dignity.

Building strong and positive relationships with our co-workers and colleagues allows us to effectively use the “entrepreneurial two-by-four” of warm candor when warranted. Purity of intention is critical. We all know entrepreneurs who prefer to act like “bosses” and want to be seen as big shots. Their deployment of brutal honesty is not so much about team member growth as it is demonstrating their dominance. These so-called leaders do not understand the value of connection and creating an environment of safety. Their team members live in fear of being singled out and ridiculed. True leaders go the extra mile to create a nurturing culture that sees mistakes not as failure, but as unfinished experiments in the laboratory of life.

Honesty and candor are vital ingredients to the success of an entrepreneurial endeavor. Delivering them in an empathetic and constructive manner will seal the deal.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 98 – A Rabbit and a Hat.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Entrepreneurial Energy

What do you think of when you hear the word “elimination?” Does it have a positive or negative connotation? What could “elimination” possibly have to do with entrepreneurship? Is it a sinister plot to get rid of the competition? Happily, “elimination” is a very positive concept for entrepreneurs. Let me explain.

Nature has installed a regular elimination process within our bodies. We eat and drink foods and liquids which provide nourishment. But not all of what we consume is useful and our system eliminates this as waste. If this elimination process did not exist we would eventually become so bloated we would explode – or at least that’s my speculation!

I read a staggering statistic recently. Apparently the National Science Foundation published a paper in 2005 stating that the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day! The paper went on to say that 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive. If true, this is astounding. It’s no wonder that the older we get, the harder it seems to remember things – it’s probably because our minds are so cluttered with the cumulative effect of our thoughts.

So, what does this mean for us as entrepreneurs? Having a fresh mind that is able to think clearly is paramount to our success. And of course mental clutter and negative thoughts impede our creativity. If truly 80% of our thoughts are negative, we are living in a danger zone when it comes to flourishing entrepreneurship. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we need to change our mindset. But that is easier said than done. After years of “practice,” negative thoughts may come naturally to us.

The answer is to embrace a process of elimination. The first step is to realize when negative thoughts have crept into our consciousness. Keeping a “thought journal” for a few days might be helpful in this regard. Every time we have a negative thought, we write it down in our journal. In a short period of time, we will become very mindful of our thought patterns and actually identify the triggers for negative thinking. The second step is to eliminate the negative thoughts. This might be accomplished in a symbolic way by taking the negative thoughts we’ve transferred into our journal, then tearing out the page at the end of the day and burning or destroying it in some manner.

Because nature abhors a vacuum, the elimination of negative thoughts will create a void into which we can pour positive thoughts. A few that come to mind are gratitude, enthusiasm, optimism, exhilaration, confidence and fulfillment. It’s these positive nuggets that will provide us with the “entrepreneurial energy” to reach the pinnacle of success. Just remember that the elimination process is just as important as the positive thoughts we think. Without elimination, the negative thoughts of fear, lack, limitation, envy, jealousy, hurt and unworthiness, continue to hang around and fester. They make it that much harder to usher in the positive energy that allows us to thrive. The bottom line is that we must be very intentional about the process of elimination.

There’s one more thing we can do that will physically reinforce the notion of elimination to make way for more good in our lives. If you are like me, we have all sorts of “stuff” that has accumulated over the years – material things in our garages, attics, basements, storage sheds – you name it and it’s probably there. While cleaning out these areas may not be our idea of a fun Saturday project, it certainly can be therapeutic when we see it working in tandem with eliminating negative mindsets. And it never ceases to amaze me that I save some of the darnedest things. For example, I’ve received a monthly financial publication for decades and have saved every one of them. I guess I figured that I might go back and look at them at some point in the future. Except that I never have – not one single time. And now all of that information and more is easily available on the Internet. So, I found it somewhat liberating to get rid of all of these magazines (and my house is less of a firetrap to boot). The point is that eliminating unneeded physical possessions is an act that supports the elimination of unneeded and unwanted thoughts of mind.

Entrepreneurial energy can be gained when we intentionally practice the process of eliminating negative thinking. Then the creativity and positivity that flows into the void will help propel our success like rocket fuel.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 97 – Rabbit Trails.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Entrepreneur’s Trap

There are many motivating factors for becoming an entrepreneur. Some of us want to be in control of our own destiny. Others are overwhelmed with passion for a particular idea. And still others want to change the world. As we embark upon our entrepreneurial journey it’s important that we understand exactly what is motivating us to do so. Are we seeking recognition; do we want to build something important; do we desire to express greater creativity, or do we want to become wealthy? Likely our motivation is a combination of a number of these factors and even others not mentioned here.

As we contemplate our motivations there’s something else that is very important for us to consider. I’m going to call it the Entrepreneur’s Trap. It could also be called the Money Trap. The thesis goes something like this. An entrepreneur – let’s call him Dylan – wants to start a business. His friends ask him why and he professes that he has a novel idea that will make a real difference in the world. He doesn’t fit the corporate environment and has always wanted to be his own boss. These friends along with members of his family shower him with accolades for the purity of his motivations, and encourage him to take the plunge.

What Dylan doesn’t tell anyone is that he really believes he can make a ton of money. He wants a massive mansion and a 70-foot yacht on an exclusive beachfront somewhere in the world. In fact, he may be suppressing this urge and trying to fool himself into believing that wealth and materialism really isn’t his main motivation. And of course if he were to state publicly that he wants to become filthy, stinking rich, he would be viewed in a negative light by his friends and family.

Let’s get one thing straight. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the desire to amass great wealth. An entrepreneur who denies that making money is a motivating factor may struggle to succeed. Why? Because driving profitability is vital to the survival of every company. The investment of capital and time along with the inherent business risks deserves a return. Where it goes off the rails is when wealth and materialism is the ultimate objective. On the other hand, if achieving wealth and materialism is a means to a bigger end, the calculus is healthy.

What does all of this mean in a practical sense? If Dylan is obsessed with making money so he can build his massive beachfront mansion and buy the 70-foot yacht, he may become quickly frustrated when he misses his profit forecasts early on. He may lose patience just when it is needed the most. Certainly there are examples of instant wealth that can be cited. But more often than not, creating and building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. The quest for being a “one percenter” can be fraught with other baggage. There may be an inclination to take shortcuts that are deficient in integrity or even legality. And how exactly do we build an organizational culture that is solely about making money for the entrepreneur? That’s certainly not a very inspiring mission for a team.

I’ve written and said before that earlier in my career I was more inclined to worship the almighty dollar. But it seemed that the more I chased it, the more elusive it was. As I grew older and more mature my focus changed. There’s no doubt that wealth accumulation was still important, but it wasn’t my singular focus. Eventually my wife and I determined that we wanted to build wealth for the purpose of giving it away. Thus was born the notion for us that generating wealth through entrepreneurship was a means to a bigger end. In our case, we established a family foundation with a mission and a purpose that will eventually provide funding for our preferred charitable causes after we are gone. But we aren’t waiting until we’re dead and buried to start this process. In 1999 we launched a scholarship program to help young people with their college expenses who aspire to become teachers. Not only do we know that in the future our financial assets will be directed to doing good work, but we get to witness the difference it makes right now while we are still alive.

We can avoid the Entrepreneur’s Trap by using wealth and materialism as a means to a bigger end. When we focus on that greater calling – whatever it may be – wealth will become a healthy result.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 96 – Just Say It.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Driven or Driving?

There’s a Netflix series that I am enjoying entitled, “Better Call Saul.” It’s about a scummy low-life ambulance-chasing Albuquerque lawyer named Jimmy McGill. Spoiler alert – in one episode, McGill becomes a minor celebrity when he rescues a man hanging from a billboard. A wealthy eccentric rancher sees the local newscast video of the rescue and calls McGill for a meeting. The rancher proceeds to announce that he and his multi-thousand acre ranch are going to secede from the United States. He needs a lawyer and offers Jimmy $1 million to handle the case – $500,000 up front and the other $500,000 when secession is final. You can see McGill sitting in the rancher’s living room – about to burst into a massive happy dance. The rancher goes to his safe and brings back a tray with bricks of 100 dollar bills. Wait for it . . . when McGill takes a look at one of the bricks, the bills are emblazoned with the face of the rancher! Perfectly legal tender portends the rancher, in his newly formed country. The scene ends with McGill driving away from the ranch in his beaten-up two-tone Suzuki Esteem.

You may be wondering what this television episode has to do with entrepreneurship. Jimmy McGill was clearly “opportunity-driven.” In other words, opportunity knocked and he answered. You may also be wondering what’s wrong with this – why wouldn’t every entrepreneur grab opportunities as they emerge? And that’s just the problem. Being opportunity-driven is effectively allowing external factors to shape our businesses and lives. Sometimes we win and sometimes we end up with a brick of fake 100 dollar bills.

There’s a great temptation for young organizations (and young people) to “grab” opportunities as they see them. This is certainly understandable. Perhaps we don’t have a lot of traction or credibility yet and need to pay the bills. The entire career of many entrepreneurs is stuck in the opportunity-driven mode. I call it the “Jim Rockford-$200-a-day-plus-expenses” approach. Those of you old enough to remember James Garner’s Rockford Files television series from 1974 – 1980 can relate to this. As a private investigator, Jim Rockford would do anything (mostly legal) for $200 per day plus expenses. I loved that show, but it taught me a great lesson – the lesson of personal limitation. Rockford would pretty much take any case that came his way and limited himself to a fixed amount of compensation and lived hand-to-mouth in a trailer on the beach.

There is another way. It’s called “opportunity-driving.” The difference between being opportunity-driven and opportunity-driving is rooted in strategy. The entrepreneur that is opportunity-driving is operating on a very strategic basis. He or she has a winning aspiration; knows where to play; knows how to win; has developed core capabilities and resources, and has created the necessary systems and processes. Utilizing this approach, the entrepreneur is focused on creating opportunities that fit the strategy.

I can relate this concept to my own business interests. In the earlier days of our organizational evolution, we would take pretty much any business that dropped in our lap. Our property management operation handled all sorts of properties – apartments, condominiums, office buildings, shopping centers, industrial facilities, and even a golf course at one point in time. We rationalized accepting assignments of all types by positing that we were in the property management business. It’s true that we developed enough critical mass with these various types of properties, but I know for a fact that not all of the business was profitable. In fact, we lost money on certain assignments. We also claimed that we were taking assignments to develop relationships that could grow into something bigger and yes, profitable. Once in a while that happened. More often than not, it didn’t.

Today, we are much more targeted with what we do. Our different business units are disciplined to handling projects that are strategically aligned. And yes, we once again are involved with a golf course, but only because it came with the 612-unit apartment community that we acquired as part of a strategic initiative. Fortunately, we found a competent operator to whom we have contracted the golf course operations since this specialty is outside our wheelhouse.

Being an opportunity-driving entrepreneur will almost always produce better results than being opportunity-driven. To accomplish this we must be strategic and disciplined.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 95 – Hedges.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Pure Poison

I met a guy who presents an interesting case study for entrepreneurs – we’ll call him Seth, though that’s not his real name. Earlier in life, he was a successful entrepreneur running his own company. He had a wife and kids and money in the bank. Then everything blew up. His wife divorced him and took a substantial amount of their assets including the dream house that they had built. Unfortunately this is a story that plays out every single day across America. There are a myriad of causes for such break-ups – infidelity, money issues, alcoholism and drug use, physical abuse and general incompatibility, are just a few of the more common reasons. Generally speaking, divorce is often a major life setback for most of those involved. But this blog isn’t about divorce, it’s about what happens next when a major negative life-changing experience occurs.

Seth became despondent and bitter. He felt that his marital problems were the fault of his ex-wife who in his opinion had become mentally unstable. He spent three years fighting her in court and when he lost, he appealed the decision. Seth spent a fortune on legal fees only to lose again and ended up paying her more than if he had accepted the original decree. He was convinced that he got a raw deal and day-by-day his obsession with his plight grew to massive proportions. When he was with his friends, all he could talk about was how badly he had been screwed by his ex and the court. Seth was consumed with his bitterness and hatred. At one point, he purchased the lot next door to his ex-wife’s house and planned to build an even larger “dream house” as an “in-your-face” gesture.

What did all of this accomplish for Seth? He lost his business and contracted cancer which fortunately he beat, but not after many rounds of chemotherapy and painful surgeries. He developed debilitating back issues and suffered with chronic ear and eye problems. For Seth, his life pretty much ended up in the toilet. While it’s not my intent to judge him, I think Seth’s hard road can serve as a wake-up call for entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike. It’s my belief that wallowing in negative energy for days, months and years, attracts negative experiences to our lives. There is scientific evidence that such negativity has an adverse impact on our immune systems and is akin to drinking pure poison.

Adversity is a fact of life. Sometimes it may be more significant than at other times. But when we choose to focus on it; obsess over it; and keep replaying it in an endless loop, we generate more adversity and negativity. Breaking out of this cycle is absolutely imperative. One of the key elements to avoiding this trap in the first place is to understand and practice forgiveness. Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness as: “to cease to feel resentment against an offender; to pardon.”

It’s quite possible that Seth could have avoided many of his problems by committing to the act of forgiveness when it was clear that his wife wanted a divorce. He would have avoided spending large amounts of money on lawyers and would have had to pay her less at the end of the day. He may have been able to avoid many (or all) of his health challenges. Had he moved on and focused positive energy on building his business, he may have been able to prosper rather than losing the company that he started years earlier. The forgiveness to which I refer was not just for the ex-wife – but also for Seth himself. Somewhere in his subconscious mind, Seth likely knows that he contributed to the demise of their marriage. While the anger and bitterness that he exhibited appeared to be directed at her, in all likelihood he was acting out some of his own guilt as well. When we forgive someone else, we may want to forgive ourselves too, for it usually takes two to tango as the saying goes.

Bitterness, anger and hatred are the equivalent of drinking pure poison. The antidote is the act of forgiveness of others and ourselves.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 94 – Team ‘Tude.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Five Reasons Exponential Growth Can Be Elusive

Toby founded a small construction company that does quality commercial work. While his company’s growth has been extraordinary, he is concerned that it doesn’t feel like he’s “broken out” yet. And his biggest worry is that he doesn’t see how he’s going to achieve the scale that he desires. In fact, there are signs that his growth is starting to flatten out. Toby is struggling to understand what is lacking in his approach to building his business. This is a very common problem for many small businesses where the founder has lofty aspirations . . . and even loftier expectations. Let’s look at some of the more common reasons that growing to scale is such a challenge.

  1. Lack of Differentiation – We win when we are able to offer a product or service that is materially different than our competition. Toby thinks his services are differentiated, but in reality they aren’t in a substantive way. He insists that he offers the best customer service of anyone in the market – but that’s a claim that all of his competitors make as well. What should Toby do to tweak his products and services so that they are in much greater demand? He should start by gaining a better understanding of his customers and prospective customers. Exactly what are the problems they are encountering with their construction projects? What are the most important things they want from their contractor? Toby needs to spend time interviewing as many people as he can to identify what the customer wants in the most granular fashion possible. Then he needs to refine his product/service suite to deliver what he has been told. Too often, we think we know what the customer wants – or what we think is best for the customer – rather than actually asking them over and over.
  2. Deficient Strategy – A Strategy Cascade starts with Winning Aspirations that leads to Where to Play, then How to Win, then Capabilities Needed and ends with Management Systems. Many small businesses have a poor to no strategy at all. Many entrepreneurs think tactically rather than strategically. Toby has this affliction. When asked, he says his strategy is to regularly attend various networking functions and try to identify business people who may be undertaking a construction project. Then he intends to do his best to convince them to use his firm. Unfortunately he has no real plan to get from Point A to Point B.
  3. Small Thinking – Toby says within seven years he wants to build a business with $10 million in annual sales. He’s already at $3.5 million. My question is – why only $10 million? Why not $100 million? I’ve met very few entrepreneurs that have BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Look, there’s nothing wrong with growing a business to a respectable level. But if one of the objectives is to scale-up in a major way, thinking really big is requisite. Toby should start by dreaming as big as he possibly can, then work backward to see what will be needed in the way of resources to realize his massive dream.
  4. Working “In” Instead of “On” the Business – In addition to small thinking, entrepreneurs often spend too much time working “in” their business instead of “on” it. Toby is involved with every cost estimate. He spends a lot of time on job sites and performs the final interview of every employee that is hired. There’s no question that he’s a “hands-on” business person – and he’s very proud of this fact. In this case, Toby is his own worst enemy. He hasn’t yet learned that it’s imperative to delegate if he wants to scale his company. When a company is very small, the founder must spend a great deal of time as a jack-of-all-trades out of necessity. But this isn’t sustainable if real growth is to be achieved. The entrepreneur who can scale his or her company in a serious way has figured out how to stay focused on the big picture and leave the smaller details to others.
  5. A Lack of Patience – I’ve said many times that it’s difficult for fast-moving, hard-charging entrepreneurs to be patient people. I have had this problem my entire career. Nothing ever happens as quickly as I want. Toby gets antsy when his business isn’t performing to his expectations. Part of the problem is the lack of a Big Vision and a coherent Strategy Cascade. When a comprehensive business plan is created, it includes a timeline that can be monitored allowing for refinement of the plan to stay on track. Toby will become much more patient when he’s working his plan and can see how his performance is matched with his timeline.

There are other reasons that a business fails to grow and scale. But meaningful differentiation of products/services; a well-designed strategy; thinking big; spending enough time working “on” the business, and maintaining patience, are critical elements to the scaling equation.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 93 – Chicken Feed.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

100% TPR

At the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, all cadets learn many valuable lessons about life. One in particular seems extra important in this day and age. When something goes wrong – anything at all – a cadet is expected to state to a superior officer, “It was my mistake, Sir, and I take full and total responsibility. I made the mistake because . . .” It matters not that someone or something else may have caused things to go awry. Cadets are taught from the very beginning to own the results of whatever may be happening around them. I call this 100% Total Personal Responsibility – 100% TPR.

Think about how much finger pointing occurs in our daily lives. The excuse factory is operating 24/7 and works at full capacity to produce victim after victim. Few people are willing to stand up and proclaim 100% TPR. Thus, it’s refreshing to see that young men and women, who are choosing a career in the Army, are doing so with a mindset of personal responsibility. They truly own their lives. Entrepreneurs should take notice of this concept to understand how to become effective leaders.

Think about a variety of every day scenarios where we witness the blame game being played. A basketball team with a losing score believes that the officiating has been too one-sided. “It’s hard to win an “eight-on-five” game,” some of the players exclaim. There’s no doubt that blown calls are a fact of life in sports. Players that have 100% TPR aren’t going to point the finger at the referees though. Instead, they will stand up tall and say, “It’s my responsibility that we lost because I didn’t execute on offense like I should, and I allowed my opponent to get past me to the basket too many times.”

A small business is competing for a contract and loses. The vice president of sales is visibly angry and says, “The playing field wasn’t level. We should have won, but our competitor had an unfair advantage by making promises they won’t be able to keep!” Conversely, the entrepreneur with 100% TPR says, “We lost because we didn’t do a sufficient job of differentiating our product from the competition. I take full responsibility for that.”

The whole point is that as adults, we NEVER blame someone or something for our failures. We ALWAYS take 100% Total Personal Responsibility for everything that happens. You may be thinking that there must be circumstances that are out of our control where we shouldn’t be held responsible. For example, what about the guy who steps off the curb after checking for traffic and a crazy drunk driver mows him down at 90 miles per hour? How can that guy be at 100% TPR? Here’s the thing. That guy made the choice to be in that place at that time. That’s not to say that the choice was right or wrong – just that’s the choice he made. Perhaps he could have looked further down the street to see the drunk driver barreling toward the intersection and waited until the car passed. And don’t misunderstand – this isn’t to say that the drunk driver wasn’t responsible – he was absolutely the one at fault. But when we are at 100% TPR, we aren’t worrying about anyone else because we have 100% ownership of our lives.

Eliminating any and all thoughts of victimization is critical to living a life of 100% ownership. It liberates and empowers us, allowing for constant self-improvement and growth. When we blame others, we interrupt this improvement and growth process. In my business and in my life, I want to evaluate the risks and rewards and proceed based upon the information I have gathered. The choices that I make may be right or they may be wrong, but they are my choices and I own them, regardless of the outcome.

We can practice the concept of 100% TPR by stopping ourselves when we are in situations where blame might normally be the default thinking. Instead, we say, “I take 100% Total Personal Responsibility for what has happened. It happened because . . .” This affords critical analysis to determine the root cause for a failure and gives us the opportunity to learn how we can make different choices in the future. And remember, taking 100% TPR isn’t enough unless the second part of the idea is explored – “It happened because . . .” We must know what we could and should have done differently.

Success can come through failure if we are willing to take 100% Total Personal Responsibility. It can also allow us to model great leadership for the benefit of others.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 92 – Death, Taxes and . . .

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.