by Paula on January 16, 2012

My husband has just returned from a week’s ski trip in the Alps. No of course I’m not jealous of the stories of blue skies, great ski conditions & hot chocolate with brandy on snowy mountain tops while I managed business, home and child….well not much….

A week or so before he headed off I confessed to a friend that I was dreading it as I wasn’t sure how I’d cope on my own for a week. They looked at me as if I was mad, reminded me that I travelled the world on my own for a year and have lived before in my own house and flat, so how could one week at home with a small child be anything but easy. It was a very good point and left me pondering. How did I reach the point where something so easy seemed so daunting?

I can now report, on my husband’s return, that in fact it was a very straight-forward and uneventful week which went from a little drama and panic, into a very normal and easy pattern once I remembered how capable I really am.

And that’s the key to this blog. Sometimes as we grow and people fit into our lives around us, we start to lose the confidence and the ability to do those things that once would not have phased us.

Evening two of his week away, I pulled the plug out of my son’s bath and the water just sat there. An hour later I went back up and yes, still there. I waited until the next morning and peeped into the bathroom hoping it was a dream, but no, there was a bath full of water and I needed to have a shower prior to rushing off to a meeting. With my husband around this would have become a “Can you sort the bath please” situation but no, it was just me. I worried, wondered, panicked, texted husband to ask what he’d do, found the sink plunger where he said it was under the sink and plunged. Glug, glug, problem solved.

Had this have occurred when I lived on my own I would have had no issue with knowing what I needed, where to find it and how to sort it, so do we actually lose skills when we co-habit and don’t have to be responsible for everything?

Earlier in my career I worked for a brief spell in the Public Sector. Exciting new job and from Day 1 was raring to go. I was told to take a few days to “familiarise myself with my desk”. Pencil sharpener, pad, computer, mouse, 2 minutes down, raring to go. Still nothing to do as they wanted to “ease me in gently”. I busied myself getting to know people and witnessed a number of people getting in just before 10, having a coffee and a chat about how stressed and busy they were, working up to a long lunch, and then knocking off early. My husband thought it sounded fab and wished me a long and happy career there. But no, not me, I was looking for a new job within months and thankfully found one back in the private sector. Yes it might have been a cushy number but I could recognise even then that too long in an environment like that and I’d be useless in business anywhere else. If that became normal to me how could I ever achieve anything in the “real world”.

What about in our businesses? We start out on our own. We are an accountant, a salesperson, chief marketer, service provider, manufacturer, administrator, telephonist. As we grow, we outsource, recruit and share our workload retaining the bits we excel at or enjoy and gladly delegating the rest. But, does this make us more or less capable as a business?

The fact is there is no way we are going to dismiss all our staff or associates and have a go on our own for a month just to see, so how do we ensure that we still have the edge and are firing on all cylinders when it comes to decisions about taking our company onwards and upwards? We can probably rely on our teams, if they’re good, to take care of the day to day and the existing pattern of work but do we still have the focus and the spark to drive things forward when so many of the skills and areas of the business that we used to know so well are taken care of for us?

Having both taken the role of a business coach to business leaders, and also benefited from some motivating words from a business coach myself I can see that this approach to questioning, promoting, coaxing and guiding us back into the sharp, all guns blazing versions of ourselves can offer great benefit. Unlike counselling or training, I find coaching is for those who actually have the knowledge deep inside but daily life, a growing business, delegated work and being so involved in their business leaves people struggling to bring that knowledge to the fore and use it correctly. It can be a great way of re-igniting the forgotten skills and getting back that perspective on how capable you really are.

What do you think? Does sharing responsibility make you greater or does it take the edge off the skills you used to have? How do you compensate for this and ensure you are still maximising your strengths in the way a growing business needs? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.





Zoe January 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

What a great blog it made me smile on a cold monday morning but also made me think about why I am good at doing what I do, but I am going to sit down and have a look at where my business is going? SWOT analysis of me and my business is todays task, aswell as my accounts!

paula January 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

Thanks for your lovely comment Zoe. Always delighted when I can raise a smile on a Monday morning! Sounds like it’s driven you to lots of positive steps. Good luck with those!

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