When I was a child, I used to read stories of events in history. One of the ones that gripped my imagination (and still does today!) is the story of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This was the decisive battle between William’s invading Norman army and Harold the English King.
William became ‘The Conqueror’ but it was what he did BEFORE the battle that laid the foundation for his success.
It is said that his invading army came across from France in around 600 ships on 28th September 1066 and landed at Pevensey. After he had disembarked all his troops and equipment, his army watched in horror as William ordered that the ships were burnt on the beach.
Can you imagine what his troops were feeling? Their only line of retreat was destroyed even as they watched.
Do you think that in the heat of the battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066, that when things got difficult and bloody, that the knowledge and mindset that they either won or died on that day, didn’t affect the outcome of the battle?
I’m pretty certain that it stiffened the resolve of Williams army wonderfully.
The reason that I mention this episode in history is because I think it has a bearing on our business success or failure (and also our personal success).
Inevitably in business there will be tasks that you don’t enjoy, that make you uncomfortable or even downright scared. Tasks like speaking in public, pitching your product, creating relationships with people of influence, technical challenges, understanding the numbers – all these things and more are a part of building a successful business.
The problem with being in business for yourself is that WE get to decide what we do on a daily basis. There is no-one standing over us saying that you have to do this or that. This presents a challenge to most people and a large part of why many people fail in business – they simply don’t have the discipline to do what is uncomfortable or difficult.
We sometimes fail to realise that there are certain tasks that are unavoidable if we want business success. Even if we realise it, because we have the power of choice, we choose to avoid ‘the challenge’ in the hope that somehow success will arrive anyway.
Someone once said something like ‘it is in our moments of greatest discomfort and difficulty that we have our greatest learning’. I think that this is true.
When I was in banking, I never really ‘knew’ my customer until they faced a moment of crisis or a moment of great difficulty in their business. Some would lie and cheat. Others would run away from their obligation.
However, others would turn and face almost insurmountable odds in the face of professional advice to give up and declare bankruptcy.
And often I could not pre-judge how my customer would react until the crisis happened.
So what does this mean for you and me in our struggles to create a business?
I think that firstly it is important to recognise that EVERYONE in business faces these types of difficulties at one time or another. If you are facing a moment of crisis in your business, you can be sure that many others have faced the same or a similar difficulty before you.
These are often the moments that will define your success or failure. You intuitively know WHAT you HAVE to do but you always have a choice of whether to do it or not.
Will you take action or side-step the challenge to complete a more comfortable task?
The problem with this is that the same challenge or difficulty will often not go away- it usually presents itself again and again and again. You cannot move forward to be as successful as you might be, until you face that challenge or quit to get a job where someone else is willing to do that which you have been avoiding – often these are well-paid jobs simply because these people are doing what others will not.
Of course, you could outsource the challenge, but then your business is totally reliant on someone else. If this task is central to the success of your business, this represents an area of potential vulnerability in your business. For example, if that person realises their importance to the business, you either have to pay them accordingly or face the possibility that they will look for another opportunity to be paid what they are worth.
This is why people talk about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone – it is only in these moments that we grow as individuals and we allow our business to grow with us. If you avoid these challenges, often they don’t disappear but they keep coming back in one guise or another.
Sometimes we wait until our back is literally against the wall (or the boats have been burned on the beach), before we are literally forced do what we know we have to do. That’s pretty drastic but if that’s what you have to do to move forward, you can easily engineer that situation for yourself.
However, why wait for this moment of ultimate crisis?
If you are feeling uncomfortable about doing something in business, take a moment to to realise that this may be something that you MUST do in order to be successful.
Think through the consequences of not doing it.
If you decide it is something that cannot be avoided if your business is to be successful, then this is THE priority task for you and your business. Everything else is secondary and YOU must find a way – YOU alone are responsible as the business owner.
This is THE moment when you and your business will grow because, by conquering that crisis, you know in that moment that you have the discipline to do whatever it takes in the face of extreme personal discomfort, pain or fear.
If you avoid it, you may be selling yourself short in not only this area but in many other areas of your life. You see, it’s all about self-respect and self-confidence.
When you know that you are willing to do whatever it takes, then your success is inevitable and you become an unstoppable force.
And success is often on the other side of failure.
So what difficult areas of your life or business have you been avoiding?
Often these challenges and failures are disguised as your greatest opportunity for growth. Embrace that fact, ‘burn the boats’ of potential retreat in your mind and move forward with iron purpose and resolve.
Realise that you will not potentially die (like William’s army) if you fail. This is simply one of the challenges that life is presenting to you in order to find out whether you REALLY, REALLY want success.
And these questions will keep on coming (and you will have to find answers) until your success becomes unstoppable and inevitable .
Rejoice therefore in the challenges that you face and ‘plunge into battle’ with your sword arm swinging freely!
If you you want success badly enough, you cannot retreat because you have first metaphorically ‘burned your boats (the line of retreat) on the beaches of your mind’.
You can find more on the importance mindset for business and personal success at ‘The Sky Inside‘
The Sky Inside – Vision, Mindset, Time Management