Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
I’m sure you’ve heard the story.
“Thou, O Queen, art the fairest in the land,” said the mirror.
Then one day, the mirror said to the queen, “Snow White, O Queen, is the fairest of them all.”
Well, Snow White became the object of the queen’s hatred.
The queen couldn’t stand to have someone fairer than she.
Of course, the story wouldn’t be the same if the queen actually made an effort to be fairer and gentler than Snow White.
What if the mirror had told the queen that she wasn’t kind enough? In actual fact, Snow White was prettier than the queen, but let’s imagine (we can do that here), that the mirror had listed the five things that the queen needed to do in order to be the fairest in the land?
Would the queen have listened?
I’m going to hazard a guess and suggest that the queen likely wouldn’t have listened to the mirror. She would likely have thrown a rock at the mirror and continued believing she was the fairest.
It’s difficult for the queen to be objective about her beauty or, for that matter, her own faults.
First Place, Second Place, No Place
I recently coached three university teams for a business competition. The contest is open to current students from schools across North America who are currently running a business. The top prize is $50,000, and the second-place prize is $25,000—a lot of money, especially to a university student.
All three pitches I coached had terrific businesses and business plans. All three were weak in the area of financials, and I shared pretty much the same advice with each of them. Two of the teams listened and made tweaks to their pitches. The president of the third team spent over 15 minutes arguing with me as to why he was unable to provide a 3- and 5-year forecast. Frankly, it shouldn’t have taken that much effort. He just refused to listen.
In the end, the two teams that did listen and made the necessary adjustments, not just to the financials but to the overall pitch, won first and second place. The team that didn’t listen didn’t even place. It’s no surprise. Their business idea was excellent, but the president was too stubborn to listen to constructive feedback and to handle criticism. He deflected. In the end, he lost. He will be a very difficult person to be in business with, and although he’s a smart guy, I definitely wouldn’t invest in one of his ventures.
Are You the Queen?
Do you listen to constructive feedback?
I can think of a few situations over the last many months where I’ve provided constructive feedback to an individual, and they refused to listen, which makes me question why they engaged me in the first place.
Given what I write about, I’m often called to help entrepreneurs with different areas of their business, and what presents as multi-year stagnant revenues and marketing issues might be something entirely different. Yes, marketing is likely a problem and needs to be addressed, but what initially seems like a marketing issue is oftentimes a deeper problem unrelated to marketing that needs to be addressed first.
For example, it’s possible the owner is micromanaging the staff, and the company will never expand beyond the skills of the owner. Or the company’s financials are a mess, resulting in poor cash flow. Both issues should be addressed prior to addressing the marketing.
Fixing the marketing or hiring a Director of Sales to grow the sales team could very well be a Band-Aid if neither the cash flow nor micromanaging are fixed.
I wrote a post titled, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Five Things You Can Do To Become a Better Boss.” In the post, I wrote the following:
People grow by being self-reflective and by making adjustments to their behavioral patterns. For those who are open-minded, that self-reflection can be cathartic. For those who believe they are perfect, that self-reflection might not result in improvement. After all, they believe they are perfect, so there’s no need to change.
I have news for you … if you believe you’re perfect, then you’re probably the queen.
If you’ve been stagnant in the same crappy job, or your company sales have been flat for a few years, it’s likely something you’re doing (or not doing).
Queen or Not, Invest in Yourself
Your best return on time and dollars spent will be from investing in yourself. What that means is improving your skills, connections, general and industry knowledge, and then—and most importantly—your health and fitness.
Approach your investments and learning from the perspective that there is always room to improve.
People have no problem throwing money away on clothes they don’t need, large homes, fancy cars, and so on, but they balk at the prospect of taking a $1,000 course, a few days off to attend an industry conference in another city, or hiring a consultant to provide honest, objective feedback when required.
Whatever it is you choose to do, once you recognize that you need to make some changes to the way you’re doing things, approach the change as a personal challenge, with an open mind, and listen to the feedback. If someone is willing to provide you with constructive criticism, maybe, just maybe, there’s a hint of truth in what they’re saying.
Before you go, I think you might be interested in reading this post titled: Sell Me This Pen. I Tackle the Wolf of Wall Street Sales Riddle. Do You Know the Right Way to Sell the Pen?
Are you a younger entrepreneur? Here’s another interesting article I wrote:
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