Ep106: Business IS Personal

24 minutes

Ever fallen in business love and just assumed you will be working together forever? Typically, life just doesn’t work that way – employees and teammates come and go in our career, even when we wish they didn’t. And even though we might intellectually know this, it doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes react badly. 

Like so many of Eliot’s stories, this is one he isn’t proud of.

Why is that important for business? 

When you find that perfect person for a role in your business, it can be hard not to get carried away with what that means. We create a story of who and what they will be for us, and we think, somehow, it will be forever. 

And then one day it isn’t. And in that moment, when we feel hurt and abandoned, we don’t always behave in a way we are proud of. Whoever said, “it’s not personal, it’s just business” either never ran their own business or is just a moron. It’s all personal. 

This is such a common experience, yet it always comes with dollop of shame, and with the strong impulse to suppress the feelings. It can hurt to put your heart into someone and have them leave, but there is also a downside to not investing in people. As the saying goes: “what if you invest in people and they leave? What if you don’t and they stay?” 

Or, as they say in horse jumping, “throw your heart over and the horse will follow”. (This is what Jodi refers to as “the horse phrase”.)

The moment someone starts to think you doesn’t care personally, that it’s just business, is the point when they start considering leaving for any small reason. You have to invest personally if you want that personal investment back. But, as with all things, it is a risk. An incredibly worthy risk.

Ask yourself: “are you investing in your people in some perverse ways of imagining they are yours forever? Or are you investing in them for as long as the relationship is mutually beneficial, then seeing them go off in the world and being proud of your part in what they accomplish next? The latter is clearly the healthier approach, and yet - it’s okay to feel hurt, too. 

Think of the paper feeder in a printer. When you adjust the feeder, perhaps to print on an envelope, both sides move in tandem – you can’t move one side independently. Emotions work like that as well. You can’t avoid the yucky feelings without also avoiding the positive ones. You can’t selectively numb your emotions. So feel all of them. 

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