Ah, entrepreneurship—the opportunity to be your own boss, to come to work when you want, to not ever have to deal with office politics, to make millions, and never even have to change out of your jammies. Over ten years ago I transitioned out of the soul-sucking, life stifling world of bureaucracies to run through the liberating fields of entrepreneurship. No more bully bosses; if I have a beef with corporate, I just march in front of the first mirror I can find and have a 'come to Jesus' meeting with me and Jesus (He’s my CEO btw).
While I have never looked back in regret, I still had to be ever present and watch out for the inevitable cow patties found in all of life’s fields, regardless of industry, size, nationality, or mission. Having worked in five different organizational settings, I know that certain things stink no matter what. It's just that I like the sweet stench of entrepreneurship much better than I do bureaucratic B.S. (B.B.S. for you acronym lovers).
I coach and speak to thousands of folks every year looking to make a tremendous transition in their lives. Almost 100 percent of the time, they are looking to break out of the confines of a J.O.B. and show up with a sense of passion and purpose in the work of their designing. I designed a term called “Entremanure" which is someone who can succeed despite all the crap. Possible responses to B.S. in previous professional settings, after the critical chain of command had failed to yield any results, entailed the following options: begin job searching, give your two weeks’ notice, disengage and go silent, sue, destroy from within, blast on social media, cry on a therapist’s couch, drink heavily all weekend long, or acquiesce and become a cog in the wheel.
You see, there will always be crap to deal with, but not all crap is created equal. Some piles are incredibly nourishing; others teach resiliency; and then there are those to avoid altogether. Crap is crap; however, some forms of crap are much easier to dig than others. So how do you navigate all the shite you’re inevitably going to deal with? Here are four lessons to remember?
You Can’t Polish a Turd: When you are running your own show, you get to move quickly and consider options that you previously could not have due to the exhaustive approval process. You'll need to be intelligent about what sells as well as margins, who to pay for services, and which organizations' would make profitable strategic partners. Most importantly, you'll need to know when to cut losses and quit throwing good money after bad. We've all witnessed a new idea being unfolded to the tune of millions of dollars, only to have everything reset back to the original way after one year. Big business can sustain this; entrepreneurs can’t.
I had to learn that my operational expertise in a large organization could be my Achilles heel in a small one. I could only cut cost for so long before I had to recognize that underneath it all was still a turd. We can’t throw good money after bad because good money is hard to come by. You’ll have to run this business like you own the checkbook, because you do.
Does it Pass the Sniff Test?: Essential to any entrepreneur is the ability to stay on point and avoid mission drift. As my father, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." What is the one thing that you can do better than anything else, which the world needs, and for which they will actually open their wallets? Do that thing. Avoid looking at what other people are doing and mimicking them. I’ve had numerous consultants call me up and tell me what they could do for my growth. When I asked them for their plan, they used a strategy that worked in other industries, at different times, but which failed to stay current on buying trends and in particular, in my industry.
Personal development isn't like selling jewelry, wine, or trips to Disney World. It takes a particular person hungry for the journey of lifelong learning. So if someone sends you a proposal, make sure it's got your unique scent on it; otherwise, it'll just stink up the place.
Under all that Dung is a Pony: You’ve heard the joke about the pony in the dung heap where there were two sons, one an optimist and one a pessimist. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities — one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist — their parents took them to a psychiatrist. First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them."
Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. “What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist.
“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere for me!” To be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be an optimist. Otherwise, you’ll never make it.
Manure Provides Nourishment: I am a proud South Central Pennsyltuckian, and one thing I am familiar with is the aroma of manure being spread on the fields. The fertilizer that is covered in our lives is also an incredible source of nourishment. Adversity makes us stronger, more resilient, and intrinsically checks our dedication to the job at hand. One of my favorite sayings is, "A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her." Hardship also makes you into a more compassionate leader, and a sense of compassion is something that separates entrepreneurs from regular business people. We are in it for a higher purpose; otherwise, why would we put up with what we do?
Plus, the stinky situations and people we cross paths with teaching us precisely who we do not want to do business with and become. The beauty of entrepreneurship is, we get to decide just how much manure we are going to put up with before we move out of the stench zone.
My father always joked that he knows Republicans lie just as much as Democrats. It's just that he liked the Republican lies better. Entrepreneurship is a lot like that. There are pros and cons to everything in life, and we truly can make the best of any situations with the right attitude, self-control, and behaviors. The question is, which pile of dung heap would you rather spend your life in? For me, I much prefer that challenges of entremanureship rather than hitting my head against the bureaucratic wall. Those who are savvier at office politics will be much better at climbing the corporate ladder than I ever was. Life is all a matter of what suits you best because when you dial that in, everything, even the crap, smells a whole lot sweeter.
LOOKING FOR MORE TREMENDOUS CONTENT?
Listen today to the Tremendous Leadership podcast with Dr. Tracey Jones, or watch on youtube.
Dr. Tracey Jones is now booking for speaking engagements for 2020 and 2021 including her most frequently requested keynotes: Ethics and Excellence, Crisis Leadership, Engaging Employees in the Age of Millennials, Women in Leadership, Making the Dream Team a Reality, Unlocking Motivation, and The Power of Books.
Contact us today if you are part of a pre-merger organization. Dr. Jones can guide your business to prevent unnecessary stress for both the entity as a whole and individuals. For more information, please contact us today.
I love this! When I am faced with a dung heap where I know there is an opportunity … I often say “I’m still looking for the Pony”. I appreciate your faith, “keeping it real” and a tremendous faith that guides what you do. Thank you!
I can’t express just how deeply grateful I am for this wise and truth-filled post. I have lived this and had come to much of these same conclusions. GOD, in his wisdom, put me in a church setting to learn a lot of this because He knew my naivete in tending to “trust” church leaders and assume they were always telling the truth-it took me a while to learn that some were not only NOT honorable but were wolves in sheeps clothing who were fine with “robbing” you. I have become a stronger, bettter, and wiser businesswoman as a result of the bricks thrown by insecure people. I have learned that all is not as it appears and I hope to teach it as you do one day so well-meaning people who really do want to improve lives through business will not be taken by users. You really should consider speaking at the Global Leadership Summit one day.
You piled it on with this article! No bull.
And I started to read this thinking it was one of the pawthors writing this, leaving one of their messages behind.
(I can pun-tificate, too.)
Great view of entremanureship.
Where ever a person “works”, they will probably be dealing with uncontrollable garbage. The key to it, is how much garbage is one person going to CONSENT to deal with? We can decide to continue dealing with something, and if we do, then we are showing everyone else that we tolerant and accept what is going on..what management is doing. This is ludicrous and does not have to be the case. If we finally have enough of the garbage and walk away from the job ( because most of the time this is where the uncontrollable stuff is) then we are saying , " Know what, I am done with this" and walk away.