Dealer’s Choice

Here’s the scenario. A situation has arisen in your business that is unexpected and unfavorable. Your only file server has mysteriously crashed and your operation is grinding to a halt. Now what? Do you deal with the situation or do you manage it? This may sound like the splitting of hairs but the difference can be as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Dealing with something connotes a mindset of reaction. Managing a situation involves a proactive mindset. If we deal with the file server crash we attempt to take steps to resolve the issue. But we don’t necessarily do anything more. Managing the file server crash incorporates steps toward resolution but also includes contingency planning in case those steps aren’t successful as well as an in-depth analysis to understand why the problem arose in the first place. And, the process of managing the situation requires making changes to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Then there’s the “string-along” situation. Recently we lost one leg of a 220 power supply in a building on one of our apartment properties. This caused a partial loss of power for the units that were affected. The repairs involved an electrical parts supplier that had to send us a new switch; an electrical contractor to install the switch; the utility company that had to turn the power off and on to allow the contractor to install the switch, and the city which required approval of the switch before it could be installed. The situation became a complete comedy-of-errors. The electrical supplier sent the wrong switch which delayed repairs. The city was in no hurry to grant approval once the right switch was received. The utility deemed the incident a non-emergency and initially scheduled the shut-down and turn-on for three weeks into the future. Fortunately we raised enough cane to get the utility to accelerate its schedule. Through all of this we heard several “next day” promises from various parties involved. And of course the “next day” turned into the “day after” and the “day after that” – you get the picture.

This is a perfect example of the classic “string-along.” We dealt with the situation rather than managed it and our residents (customers) were inconvenienced for a number of days. Had we chosen to manage properly, someone on our team would have stepped up and “owned” the problem and taken charge of getting it resolved from start to finish. Instead our team members bought into the “string-along” and became spectators in the process. Managing this situation would have involved the team member “owning” the problem preparing a contingency plan that would interrupt the “string-along” and implement different measures to ensure the comfort of our residents.

A mindset of managing tough situations can result in a positive experience for all involved when a member of a team steps up and takes ownership of the situation. Choosing to assertively resolve issues rather than simply dealing what is thrown at us generally produces the desired outcome.

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

Card Dealer

No One Washes a Rental Car

Question: I understand that to succeed in life and as an entrepreneur, I cannot play the victim. But it seems like there should be more to this premise. What is it?

Answer: You are right on with the philosophy that you cannot buy into a mindset of victimization. When we let ourselves think this way we are giving someone else the power over us. Avoiding a victimization mindset is an important step for us to take but as you sensed, there is more to it.

Why do you suppose it is that no one washes a rental car? Think about it. I will confess that in all my years of travel, I’ve never once even thought about driving a rental car through a car wash – no matter how filthy it might have been. There is a very good reason for this. We know that the rental car company automatically washes every rental car when it’s returned. And we know we don’t own the rental car. Our success and happiness is based upon the same concept. Others may help us in our quest for success and happiness but that’s all they do . . . help.

It’s up to each of us to take ownership of our own life. Earlier in my career I relied on a lot of people – and I still do today, but in a different way. There were times in the past when I might have thought, “I’ll do my part but someone else will ‘carry the ball across the goal line.’” As I think back I remember many disappointments along the way where having this mindset resulted in failure. Most likely this is because others were thinking the same way. Not a single one of us truly “owned” a particular project in such a way as to see that we did whatever it took to achieve a successful result. Taking ownership in a work environment doesn’t mean doing everything ourselves. But it does mean that someone (maybe it’s us) must be responsible for seeing that all of the plays are called and executed, and that the team eventually scores. Any time a goal or an objective is set, always remember to ask, “who is going to own this?”

In our personal lives it should be easier. When we ask the question, “who is going to own this,” the answer is pretty obvious. And we need to create some sort of accountability for ourselves to make sure that we follow through and truly “own” it. This accountability might be in the form of a journal, a checklist, working with a buddy or mentor – whatever is necessary for us to take our ownership seriously. If we want to exercise more; lose weight; be more aware of current events; become deeper spiritually; find a significant other; be a better parent, or be more prosperous, the road to success begins with our taking ownership of our situation and committing to see it through to a successful end.

Taking ownership is a liberating experience. In so doing, we cease to worry about whether or not we will succeed. Instead, we live in the knowledge that through our ownership we will achieve whatever it is that we have set forth to do.

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