Letter from Ed: Running a Business Can Change You for the Better or for Worse
Pallet Enterprise founder, Ed Brindley, thinks about the impact that starting and running a business has had on his personality. It can have either positive or negative effects, and it all depends on how you react to whatever you encounter.
By Edward C. Brindley, Jr
Date Posted: 6/1/2013
WhenI was young, older people used to tell me that before I knew it I would belooking back and wondering where the time went. While I never argued with thisconcept, when you wake up with youth and energy it can be difficult to reallyunderstand what this truth means. As I sit in front of my keyboard and realizethat one week from today I will turn 70 years old, the reality of my age isupon me. While I continue to work each day to publish the kind of informationthat will help our readers improve their operations and keep on top of thelatest industry developments, I am realizing that being an entrepreneur takes atoll.
I canremember when I started Industrial Reporting, Inc. in 1977. After over 35 yearsof working with and writing about my pallet friends, my energy is fading evenwhile my passion for everything pallets remain strong. I recently ran across anarticle from Inc. magazine entitled “I Thought I Knew You – EntrepreneurshipChanges People – and Not Always for the Better.” This article caused me toponder how I have changed over the years.
Thereis no doubt that the daily entrepreneurial challenges of running a smallbusiness have changed my personality. According to the U.S. Bureau of LaborStatistics, the average adult worker spends 8.8 hours on working and relatedactivities. That’s a large percentage of your day, and it can’t help but havean impact on how you feel as well as how you act outside of the office.
One ofthe best indicators of the impact your work is having on you is how you reactto situations in your family. The reactions and comments by your spouse andchildren are a good mirror for what is going on inside of you due to workstress. Are you less in touch with the emotions and feelings of your family? Doyou find yourself more results driven and less patient with your children athome? Phrases like, “Just do what I ask and don’t give me any lip,” or “Whywon’t you talk to me anymore?” may indicate that you haven’t changed for thebetter.
When weare used to working with adults and basing our reactions on the performance ofemployees, it can be difficult to turn the switch to loving parent and spousewhen we get home. Children and adolescents just don’t understand performancemetrics, following policies and looking for ways to cut costs. I have learnedthat your productivity or business success means very little if at the end ofthe day those who should be close to you are distant or even damaged by changesto your personality.
Thehuman brain is dynamic, not static; it is constantly changing. Excitement anddepression are two sides of the same coin. We must deal with both. The Inc.article suggests that entrepreneurship doesn’t change people as much as itreveals their true personalities. It seems that for a long time I rode theentrepreneurial wave of enthusiasm. The tsunami is now subsiding, leaving mestriving to keep from being washed back out to sea. My thrills today tend torest more on those around me and how they are carrying on the mantle which Ionce thrived.
If weare honest, many entrepreneurs have too much of their identity as a personwrapped up in their work life. Meg Cadoux Hirshberg wrote in the Inc. article,“I would hazard that adverse personality effects are especially apparent inthose who have long cherished the idea of entrepreneurship as salvation, thethings they were meant to do and finally would do that would lift them abovethe discontents of their normal lives.” I have to admit a touch of guilt inthis arena. Over the years, time has worn away the magic and the dream.
Whileworking with the industry has driven much of my personality, it has probablymade me more difficult for those I love to live with day in and day out. Justask my wife Carolyn and two sons Scott and Chaille. They know the truth of howworking so many long hours has impacted me. I know that the love of my familyhas sustained me and provided the energy to accomplish whatever has beenachieved. Many of my industry friends have shared similar experiences.
So,here are the life rhythms that I am trying to follow to make my work lifebetter.
1.)Don’t take yourself too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself, especiallyyour mistakes or blunders, is healthy and necessary to keep from becoming toocritical.
2.)Don’t worry about things beyond your control. Instead focus on fixing thingsthat you can impact. There are many macro events taking place in the worldtoday that are easy to worry about. But that will do you little good. I amputting my energies on making small changes that can make our products andorganization better.
3.)Think about the kind of person I want to be at work and home, and then focus ondoing things to make that change occur. I want to be remembered as somebody whois positive. So I have been trying to focus more on the positives and championthose instead of always pointing out the things that aren’t working. As a boss,I have to balance this with the need to fix problems. But even in doing that,you can take a negative or positive tone in handling business and personal lifechallenges.
4.)Pray, pray, pray. I believe in the power of prayer and have focused more timedoing that as I get older. Something happens inside of me as I pray aboutsituations instead of worry about them.
5.)Relying on others more has become a necessity as I get older. Most smartbusiness people know the value of delegating non-core functions to otheremployees. This can be hard to do, but it is critical to the growth of anycompany. It may take more time to involve others initially, but in the end itwill be a time saver as well as a benefit to your company.
If youhaven’t stopped to think about the issue explored in this column, you shouldset aside some time this week to ponder how your work experience is impactingyour life. Don’t wait. Add an hour of reflection to your busy schedule rightnow. Trust me – you will eventually beglad that you did.
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