I admire Superman, you know Man of Steel and all, but the one thing I really admire is that he knows his enemy, Lex Luther. If I were him I would fly over and wrap up this enemy problem really quick. Problem solved; no more enemies. Sit back, have a couple of cold ones, pat myself on the back for a job well done.
I don’t have an enemy I can blame all woes on. If something doesn’t happen, then it’s all me. If the story doesn’t read well, it’s me. If I don’t attract the audience, it’s me. If the grammar is screwed up, it’s my editor’s fault, but I hired her, so it’s me…again. It’s always me. If something doesn’t happen it’s my fault—directly or indirectly. The buck stops here, with me. So, every morning when I look in the mirror I am in essence looking at my worst enemy. The other side of the coin is true as well; I am also my own best hero. I think about that each day: “Today and I going to be an enemy or a hero?” I have the power to be either one—the choice is mine.
Business are in the same situation. They really don’t have enemies. Competitors yes, but not enemies, and there is a difference. Competitors make you up your game; enemies try to destroy you, usually with a personal passion. That is pretty rare in business, except of course in risky business. But in the real world, destroying the competition isn’t personal enough to earn the title enemy.
There is a little gardening shop I visit about once a month. They have been in business for less than a year and they are struggling. So I chat with them about this and try to figure out what’s going on (I’m actually pretty nosy). To hear them tell it, they have an enemy. Their enemy is the discount garden store the next city over. They say “it’s ruining the business,” “they’re taking all the customers,” and “they even sell online.”
So I ask the usual question “What’s stopping you from doing those things too?”
That’s when it’s time to put on the gardening boots, because the manure gets real deep, real fast. I don’t need to be a gardening guru to see the problem; these guys just don’t want to do the work to bring in a good crop. Sure, they’re out there plowing the fields, but they’re not doing the homework to see how to make their customer base grow. They are their own worst enemy.
So I chat with them, have a few minutes of fun with the situation, “Have you tried…,” “Maybe, you could consider…,” but in the end it’s a futile effort. I know it and so do they. It’s like the doctors who tell people to quit smoking—everybody knows it needs to happen—but until the patient is ready, nothing is going to change. I keep going back every month or so, just to check on them.
As you read through this, think about your situation: are you your own worst enemy or your best hero? Do you do the due diligence to make things happen? Do you take the time to understand a situation before making a knee jerk reaction?
It could be as simple as sitting in the corner of your own restaurant, watching how the people flow in and out. Is it smooth? Are the customers engaged? Those little things add up so much, and really what was the cost? What was the cost of effort?
If you’re an at-home white-collar worker, are you engaged with your customers and do you continue to increase your skills? Do you continue putting up the good fight each and every day? It’s hard being self-motivated, so are you taking the steps to do it—really do it?
These are rhetorical questions. Only you can answer them, and like you, each day when I get up I look in the mirror: “Today am I going to be an enemy or a hero?”
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill