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Business Paranoia: When To Worry And When To Have A Thick Skin


looking in the mirror

People with influence, money, and power are a flighty bunch. Whether we’re talking about Richard Nixon or Michael Jordan, people who attain a high level of position are wont to worry about losing it. These fears are not misplaced. Success puts a target on the back of the successful. And even though you’ll still have trusted allies, it can be difficult to distinguish true friends from clingers on. And that’s only the worries that you have in the board room. You’ve also got to worry about the court of public opinion, in which your business’s reputation may be slandered and eviscerated to an inch of its life at any moment.

Of course, maybe you’re just being paranoid. At a certain level of success, it can be almost impossible to distinguish pointless anxiety from meaningful caution. There are, however, certain tactics that serve to waft away the smoke screen and reveal the true nature of your business reality. Focus on what you really know, and you won’t have to deal with the random ebbs and flows of your personal anxiety. You’ll also be able to act with more confidence, and better results.

First, it’s important to understand what your goal is, and who your audience is. If you have a core product, it should be as excellent as it can be. Anything that stands in the way of this goal is going to have a detrimental impact on your business over time. Take a cold look at the people who work for and around you. Do they deliver results? Do they help create an environment in which people can excel? Do you? A pragmatic business look at your mechanisms of action can help you create people and process that contribute to lasting success. Anything that holds you back should be trimmed away.

In the same way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who your audience or end usership is. These are the people who will carry the torch of your business into the world. Marketing is effective, but only insofar as it is credible. When marketing is in opposition to what people say online, your marketing sounds phony. If you have lots of bad press online, there are online crisis solutions which can enable you to survive the furor, long enough to fight another day.

Finally, it’s important to cultivate a healthy life outside of your work. Family and friends, who don’t love you as a direct extension of the work you do in the world, are an important part of staying sane and happy. Some business people spend all of their energies on the thing they are trying to create, and this is necessary work for some. If you don’t feel like you are impelled to put everything into your business because of a reality that is bigger than yourself, create a life outside of work that is as free from worry and anxiety as possible. It will make the hard work of perspective keeping in business much easier.