Someone mentioned to me recently that, based on reading our posts, it seems like Melissa and I have had lots of negative experiences. My friend mentioned this out of a concern that it might reflect poorly on us that we have these difficulties. I see her point, but, in discussions with other small business owners, in a variety of professions, I find that our experiences are common among us. In fact, I have had conversations with other business owners when we swap these stories and are amazed at how similar they are. And, I do not think they reflect negatively on the business owner/manager who experienced the event. Some people point out the need to take appropriate precautions, to avoid things we never anticipated; however, regardless of what efforts one makes in hiring, or in working with clients, there will be surprises. The good news, is after the fact, some of these experiences are amusing. Some sting longer than others, but for the most part, we move on to the next adventure, never knowing what positive or negative experience it will become. But, I want to make 2 other points. First, even if the experience is negative, how one responds to it managerially, or professionally, is what is important. Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin sang the words, “Yes there are two paths you can go by…” in Stairway to Heaven but I think, in operating a business, there are perhaps more than 2 forks in the path. Determining how to handle a negative situation is critical to keep the business on a positive path. This brings me to point 2. One of the fundamental reasons we are taking the time to write these posts and to share our negative, and positive, or even neutral, experiences is to educate others about them. One of our target audiences is small business owners, whether they are a mom and pop business or structured in some other way. Our hope is that we may be able to point out some landmines in the path of business ownership and management to help others avoid them. Certainly the commiseration has been beneficial at times for me. Another purpose of these posts is to point out some issues that might not be well considered by employees, new hires, and young professionals to help guide them to more successful careers. So, seeing the positive in a negative is merely a matter of perspective.
No one has ever accused me of being a Pollyanna. (For those readers who don’t know the meaning of this expression, it means someone who thinks good things will always happen and finds something good in all experiences. It originated in 1913, in a novel of the same name by Eleanor Porter.) I believe some things and some people are good, some things and some people are bad, and most people and most things fall somewhere in between. I am a realist who calls things as I see them. In all the years I have worked, including the past decades when I have co-owned a business, I have experienced many, many things, some of which have been positive and some of which have been negative. The purpose of these posts is to share the numerous experiences David and I have had, both business and personal. We have not attempted to censor any content or to present negative events in a falsely positive light. I see no reason to view the negative experiences we have had through rose colored glasses; there would be no educational benefit to the reader if we fictionalized things that have happened. As of this writing, I have close to 500 topics to write about; a quick perusal of my list reveals topics of a positive nature, topics of a negative nature, and neutral topics that are purely educational (such as an upcoming post titled, “What is Social Psychology?”). In my 40 plus years of working, I have learned a lot about what NOT to do, as well as what to do from my varied experiences, such that I am passing along these life lessons via these posts. Obviously, if there were more negatives than positives in my current job, I would find something else to do, meaning that, despite the perceived negative tone of some of the posts, we “keep on keeping on” because the positive experiences outweigh the negatives.
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