Written by Business Motivational Speaker and Sales Trainer Derek Clark-
As a CEO who has seen what kinds of things adversely affect a company from every angle—entry-level employee, supervisor, founder; top, bottom, and middle—the principle of not letting employees personal problems infect the workplace can never be stressed enough. We all have troubles in our personal lives, stresses that are difficult to shrug off when we set out for work. But putting on your work clothes should be like a superhero putting on his costume. You are becoming your alter ego; your costume and cape are impervious to bullets and flames; you must put on a brave face to go fight villainy.
Dragging your personal life into work is one of those major business “Don’ts” that we all know in principle, but often have a hard time practicing. The ease of spreading negativity seems especially true of the workplace. Think of the door to your workplace as having a guard station. But instead of checking in your weapons or other contraband, the guards insist you relinquish your pessimism, nay saying, and bad attitude.
Imagine yourself sitting at your desk, personal problems consuming all your energy and attention. Let’s get hypothetical, and pretend your life reads like the lyrics to the saddest country song ever written. Your son is in prison and your daughter in rehab. Your spouse wants a divorce and says they never wanted to get married in the first place. You have $100 in your bank account, your credit cards are maxed, your home is in foreclosure, and the bank wants to repossess your car. Your dog had surgery and the vet is sending your bill to collections. Your mother is sick and your dad is leaving her for another woman. Your brother just got a DUI and your sister just joined a cult and gave them all of her money. To top it off, all this was sprung on you the week before Thanksgiving, and now you have no idea who’s going to cook the turkey. And frankly, you’re starting to feel like your turkey is already cooked.
Now your head is swirling, the world is crashing in around you, and you’re wondering how you can possibly put a smile on your face. You just want to crawl in a hole, disappear, drown in your tears and never return. Yet through it all, you have your daily commitment of going to work. You have to earn a living. But with your mind tangled up with so many distractions, problems pulling your thoughts in every direction, your head is full of noise and you can’t focus.
Ask yourself, what can you do about any of these troubles right now? Most likely, absolutely nothing! Even supposing you can, how are you going to justify spending time on the phone trying to put fires out on your boss’s dime, or texting when nobody’s looking? Will losing your job or being put on probation help solve your problems? I should think not.
Even Superman had a lot of personal problems. In a way, he was a foster child who never got to know his parents. He was in love with a woman whom he had to lie to constantly. He was sometimes burdened by his role as a savior to mankind. But you didn’t see him carrying this heavy baggage along with him when it was time to go duke it out with Lex Luther. Take care of business first, and save the rest for later.
Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who put together a pyramid, each level representing a human need that, when met, allowed the individual to concentrate on fulfilling his or her next level of needs. His idea was that a person had to settle one aspect of their life before being able to concentrate on another. At the bottom are basic things like food, water and shelter. Just above that are employment and property. Still further up the pyramid are human relationships. Maslow demonstrated that for you to have the good life, you needed to have your bases covered and your basics taken care of. So don’t take employment for granted! It’s the base upon which your mighty pyramid is built!
Something else to consider. It is a truth proven time and time again all throughout history. Sometimes the brain, the unconscious brain, does its best thinking when the conscious mind is occupied elsewhere. Often a brilliant solution will come into your head when you don’t even know your brain is dwelling upon a problem and working out a solution. Many great ideas were worked out while a person was occupied with other things, or even sleeping. Focus your energy elsewhere, while being assured that at the back of your mind the problems are still being considered by some part of yourself. Then, on your own free time, there is a good chance you will have a clearer head and will be better able to tackle whatever challenges are burdening your spirit. Maybe your mind has even already solved the problem! Set upon your priorities, the tasks at hand, and let what needs working out work itself out naturally, in its own due course.
Let’s be real, being fired is no fun. But I promise you, having to fire somebody is no picnic either. It’s hard to tell somebody they’ve failed to meet whatever expectations you’ve had of them. I have had the extreme displeasure of having to fire employees due to personal issues with drugs, disrespect, fraud, a threatening demeanor, or simply an inability to get along with their coworkers.
I don’t think I’ve ever made a bad hiring decision. In fact, everybody I’ve had to let go was great in the beginning. But somewhere along the way they tripped over one of life’s stumbling blocks and couldn’t regain their footing. Their bad attitude was wearing other people down. As the founder of a company, I felt that my business was a reflection on me. Being a good person and making a good living are not mutually exclusive. I want any company, whether it’s one I’ve founded or one I’m working for, to reflect my values. I want it to be a positive influence on the world.
This is not to say that our personal lives are less important than our professional lives. Most of us, if forced to choose between a dearly loved one and, say, a significant raise, would most certainly opt for the loved one. But there is a feedback loop between professional and personal. When you bring those negative aspects of your personal life into work, you darken all your professional dealings, which then are brought back into your personal life, so that both become corrupted, and both start to fall apart.
Strong personal relationships need firm footing, and economic security is a major part of that solid ground. It may even be the most important. One of things people who love one another most often argue about is money. Money issues are cited as the primary cause for divorce in the vast majority of failed marriages. Economic security brings emotional security. Taking care of business will better allow you to focus on personal issues.
Before you take your economic security for granted, take stock of where you are. First of all, you are very lucky to even have a job. Being employed is nothing to take lightly. No, your boss can’t read your mind, but do you think he or she won’t notice if you’re dragging your life’s sewage into the workplace on the soles of your shoes? Trust me, it will stink up the place, and if you do it too often nobody will be able to ignore the stench.
Written by Business Motivational Speaker and Sales Trainer Derek Clark.
To find out more about his inspiring and informative presentations and keynotes, visit www.NeverLimitYourSales.com and www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com