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Business Leaders, Weenies and the Question of Confidence: The Lessons of a Root Canal

Global Recession | Business Leaders, Weenies and the Question of Confidence: The Lessons of a Root Canal Leslie Kossoff

Yesterday I had a root canal and it got me thinking all about business confidence and the complaints that so-called "business leaders" are making about their lack of confidence in the economy.

What do a root canal and business confidence have to do with one another? Everything. Because, in both cases, it's all about fear and paralysis or, conversely, the willingness to trust yourself and those around you to achieve success. This all occurred to me at two different points in the process.

The first was when I realized that the procedure was going to take place in a foreign language. No, not the language of endodontics, which would have been bad enough. This was going to be done in French. I was having a root canal done in Paris - and that meant that the endodontist and his assistant would be speaking rapid-fire, technical French to one another - which definitely left me out of the loop.

The second point was when, contrary to the assurances of my endodontist that I wouldn't feel anything, I felt something. Not pain. But something. Most important was that the 'something' made me even more worried about what had the potential to happen. Not what was actually happening - but what could. And it was that realization that stopped my fear. Because I realized that it wasn't what I was experiencing that was making me afraid. It was what might happen - which was purely a product of my own imagination.

Sure, there was logic involved. Let's face it, when you've got someone poking around with drills and metal probes in an area that is designed to hurt, there's a fair expectation that hurt will occur. But that doesn't mean that it is or it does or even that it will. It's simply something to be aware of and ready for, and to have your resources lined up to help should that occurrence manifest. Which I did. Because I had a talented and accomplished endodontist doing the work, I didn't have to worry about my decision to have the root canal or the resource I had selected to do the work. I had already created success.

That's what led me to start thinking about those business leaders, because they, too, are in a foreign situation operating within a global economy the likes of which they've never seen before. Also, even with the amazing war chests of cash they've built up, they're so convinced that there's going to be pain that they're reacting as if it's already there.

This all led me to a simple and straightforward conclusion: They're weenies. They're allowing their fears to drive their decisions rather than taking the steps that would help the economy - global and local - to recover.

Escaping the vicious circle

In a world where innovation defines and ensures future success, companies are continuing to cut back on their R&D budgets. Just think HP and you’ll see what the outcome of that strategy is. For those companies that “make things” – of which there are far too many to name – the executives’ concurrent refusal to make inward investment in their enterprises and insistence that they can’t hire until the economy improves, keeps everything in exactly the same dire circumstances that they are bemoaning. Instead of taking action, they'd rather be afraid and wait for someone else to take the big steps. What they should be doing is taking their courage and their smarts in hand and driving success forward. For everyone.

What all of that says is that these aren't "business leaders". By definition, weenies can't be leaders because they don't lead - and who'd want to follow them anyway? So, as you look at what you're doing with your business, ask yourself:

• Do I have trusted resources surrounding me?
• Are there things I want to do and steps I want to take with my business that I think can succeed?
• Am I not taking those steps because I'm afraid?
• If so, where is that fear coming from? Within or without?

Depending upon the answer to that last question, you'll know what to do. If you're generating the fear from within, take your courage in hand and go forward. If it's coming from those around you, the media or any other place, then lose them.

They're weenies. You're not.

Leslie L. Kossoff is the author of The Proactive Guide to Troubleshooting Quality, Change and Development Initiatives.

Tags: business confidence , Change and Development Initiatives , endodontist , global financial policy , global recession , macro economy , Paris , root canal , The Proactive Guide to Troubleshooting Quality
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