No one can help having a certain set of emotions for their business. Its not just an income, but often a significant source of enjoyment. Many businesses are an extension of the founders, owners and employees passions and interests and personal identity. Over time, our experiences with the business and the relationships we develop create baggage, both good and bad, that we then use as part of our filter for decision-making.
Most recently I’ve seen a few instances where emotions end up hurting growth. In one, the founder’s lack of understanding for how the industry works has caused them to react negatively to customers, causing them to lose business. In another, the founders have romanticized about their business being an industry disruptor. As a result, they are choosing to turn business away because the industry is not willing to work the way they want to work. I might see that if they are bigger, profitable and on a sustainable track, but they are nowhere near any of that.
So, how do we keep emotions in check, because we all bring emotions to bear in making decisions? Here’s a great tool I learned from Andy Grove’s “Only The Paranoid Survive”. Actually, I never read the book, but this tool came to me from a talk by Andy Stanley, who did read the book, and the tool really hit home for me.
Ask yourself, what would my successor do?
Here’s the methodology. If you were replaced by someone new who does not have the history in your company as you do, who does not have the relationships with all the people you work with like you do, and has not poured themselves into it like you have, what would they do in relation to the decision or situation you are in? Since they have little to no background or relationships to use to filter their decision-making, they have to go by the facts of the situation. This question tends to bring much more objectivity to the situation and the decision-making process. It has for me and it might do the same for you
Another area that this question really helps me is when it comes to rationalizing decisions. I am good at rationalizing decisions to make myself feel good about them. You might do the same. When I turn the decision around from the perspective of my successor, I end up making better decisions.
Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.