It's Time to Get Past the Fear in your Business
You just had your second Red Bull and it isnít working. The
music in your car is loud; the windows are down letting cold air blow into your
face and it is midnight but youíre still an hour from home. The only plan is to
keep your car between the lines and hang on another hour. Not many cars out
this late and you are hitting it hard trying to get home before you fall asleep
at the wheel.
Suddenly, a deer takes one massive leap out of the brush
along the road and lands dead in the middle of your lane. He stares at you,
frozen in mid stride, head turned, staring at a car screaming down on him at 70
miles an hour. Several seconds later you swerve, but not in time and the deer
is road kill and your front fender is a crushed piece of cheap plastic barely
attached to the car by a few screws.
Why didnít the deer see the car and run? Why didnít he react
to something that was trying to kill him?
In our world the small business owner is too often the deer.
Competition increases, divorce happens, leases go bad and the owner, instead of
fighting back, chooses to stand in the middle of the road and stare at the
light until he is crushed and loses it all. This scenario might be the most
frustrating business situation in small business: the owner becomes so afraid
of doing the wrong thing that he does nothing and simply exists as an inert
mass in the middle of the road staring at the light until the business is taken
away from him.
I used to believe that you that if someone is trying to
break your head with a bat that you would at least swing back and go down
fighting, but over the years I realized that this doesnít happen. I remember
watching one of the earliest full contact marital arts fights pitting a guy
with about three fights with one guy who was in the ring for the first time.
The new guy was an experienced martial artist, big and tough looking. The fight
started, the more experienced guy threw a quick, vicious kick at the new guyís
head and the new guy panicked, turned away and refused to fight. It was over in
less than 30 seconds and the challenger never threw a punch.
This was real life failure, not someone in the movies making
a heroic fight against overwhelming odds and beating three drunks with a pool
cue. People get challenged beyond their capacity to deal with the situation and
they shut down, not only in a martial arts bout, but in business and in life
too. Too much is simply too much and the game is over.
I see this happening now in the fitness world. The
competition has increased dramatically during the last several years with a
negative connotation that good clubs are eating bad clubs that are charging
less. This isnít the actual case and in reality it is the fast eating the slow
to change that is affecting the market. We have the new functional technology,
an increased difficulty in finding good staff and training them, and the
disappearance of the old retro marketing ideas that worked for decades yet now
are worthless concepts leaving current owners struggling with newer electronic
technology to drive leads. Change is happening and the fast adapters are eating
the slow movers.
For many owners, it is simply too much to change and too
much to understand the new rules of the fitness business and many find it
easier to stare into the headlights waiting for the car to end the pain. Most
owners only have so many reinventions in their soul and then they quit the
business and perhaps nothing in this business is more painful than watching an
owner who has been in the industry for 30 years trying to cope with the current
rate of change. "Youíre crazy, this idea worked for the guy who started Ballyís
and he made a million bucks doing this. That new stuff is bullshit,Ē which
doesnít explain why the old guy is losing his business if that idea is still so
Another way to look at this is that it is somewhat like
watching a person who smokes or who has a drinking problem blow up their life
while intellectually understanding that what they are doing is killing them yet
they refuse to change. I use to use the line, "change is more painful than
deathĒ and now later in my teaching I am only now truly understanding how
powerful this sentence really is.
The frozen person believes that staring at the light is the
right thing to do. By not making a decision you avoid doing anything wrong or
harmful for the business. But not making a decision is making a decision: you
just made a decision to avoid making a decision and many decisions in todayís
blinding speed market must be made quickly with the thought that if youíre
wrong you at least moved it forward and can later adjust.
Here is a self-test to help you understand if you might be
one of the deer people:
Is your business slipping, as indicated by the
numbers declining, and yet you find yourself waiting for them to get better rather
than taking action? The light is coming deer person.
Do you have personal issues, such as carrying
too much weight or a bad relationship, that you simply avoid rather than
dealing with in your life? Fat deer make better meals.
Are you one of those people others look up to in
the business, have been in the magazines, might have been a past president of a
major trade organization, but now you find yourself struggling because what you
know no longer works and it is embarrassing to ask someone for help because you
lose guru status? Maybe the other deer would respect a smart deer who still
seeks new ideas and doesnít have to know everything.
If you havenít been to a training conference in
the last three years, arenít certified as a trainer or havenít done any one-day
workshops on newer training concepts, you are the deer and the lights are a big
If you donít know who Gray Cook, Alwyn Cosgrove,
Mike Boyle, Jason Brown or Todd Durkin are and you own a fitness facility, you
are the deer and the car is moving faster toward your furry ass.
If you are doing the same workout you did 20
years ago, just go ahead and jump on the barbecue.
If you canít use your own software, canít
Facebook, canít shoot and post a 30-second video, check your back for tire
Many owners will fail this year and most deserve what they
get because of failure to take action. Is it fair? The rule of business will
always be the fast eat the slow, not the big eat the small. We are in the world
of change yet if you refuse to take action your business will be taken away
from you. If things arenít working, take the first punch and at least go down
fighting back. Losing isnít everything; failure to fight will cost you your