Many businesses currently face challenges from the indirect effects of the pandemic and other factors. Import, shipping, and multiple levels of the supply chain are all disrupted. Interest rates are increasing, and inflation is here to stay. Labor is in short supply and material costs are rising.

The disruptions are real. I have come to the conclusion that much of the actual damage to businesses is self-inflicted.

Drawing from athletics (not really a surprise to anyone who knows me) and creative writing (long ago in a land far away, I co-authored several science fiction/fantasy novels that were published by DAW) one quote from each experience will explain the problem. I am certain the quotes are butchered and apologize for not remembering the exact phrases or specific attributions.

The athletic quote is: Train your strengths to impress your friends and train your weaknesses to impress your opponents. Examine every step in the process. Improvement will translate to results — but improving the weakest parts will typically result in the biggest increase in performance. 

The writing quote is: If you fall in love with a line you wrote, it should probably be removed. Often, the worse the decision is, the more emotionally attached we become. Think of the last political disagreement you had. Regardless of which side you are on politically, at some point you thought, “Wow! That is stupid.” The person expressing the opinion did not think it was a stupid opinion, and this probably did not alter their enthusiasm for defending their point of view. I would also bet they thought the same regarding your opinion.

The point is you need to be willing to admit when a decision is bad and make a change. No one enjoys being wrong. Part of success is seeing alternatives and accepting responsibility. Maybe a decision is a mistake, maybe not. If you do not entertain alternative points of view, you will never know. If you are not succeeding and do not change, the failure is on you. 

Several stories we have published recently include companies that think outside of the box to solve problems. Follow their example.

No one can be an expert in every peripheral aspect of their business. I am not an expert in paper and printing. I am not an expert in the software we use to lay out magazines or to design websites. I have people who are experts and I listen to their opinions. 

You may not be an expert in shipping, manufacturing, marketing or any other isolated aspect. If that one thing is part of the process leading to your pain point, be open to alternative ideas. Don’t let your unwillingness to accept other perspectives or your need to be right limit your success.

You are not obligated to agree with every point of view or act on advice. Many opinions are actively wrong. But, if you are not getting the result you want, it is arrogant to not consider other options. Ultimately, success or failure is on you and your decisions. 

There is always a way to succeed. Get out of your own way and find a path to success. GSCB