How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Success

By Bryan Orr

I rolled over in my bed groggily and looked at the alarm clock. The red numbers looked blurry until my eyes cleared and I could see that the screen said 7:00 AM. As I walked clumsily to the bathroom to get dressed for the day I wondered what the me from eleven years ago, or even 3 years ago would think of me waking up this late on a workday, a workday in the summer no less.

I own an air conditioning contracting business and when I started the business eleven years ago it would have never occurred to me that waking up at 7AM in the busiest time of the year would  be an option. Waking up at 5AM was normal and for a while I even experimented with waking up as early as 3AM to get things done before the demands of the workday began.

That changed, and at first I wasn’t sure why. Things were good at work, great in fact. Profits are up, volume is up and I get to work with a group of nearly 50 fantastic people every day. I found things that used to excite me didn’t anymore and things that used to upset me didn’t bother me.

When I started in the HVAC trade I enjoyed learning the business, figuring out how things worked, keeping up on the newest technology and going home every day knowing that I had fixed something and learned something new. But time passes, you grow weary, or maybe just forget to “stop and smell the roses”. I was sitting in my office and it hit me, I used to really enjoy the WORK ITSELF. It was never just a means to an end, it wasn’t that I was just building a career, a family or a business, I was doing something I enjoyed.

Some people can do business for the sake of business, or can go to work everyday simply for the paycheck; successful small business owners are not usually those people.

Forgive me if this is the most obvious statement in the history of business articles, but if you stop doing what you enjoy, you won’t be as good at your job.

Do What You Enjoy Every Day    

If you own a large florist shop it may not make sense for you as the owner to do nothing but make arrangements all day, but you can do one every day. Give yourself 30 minutes a day to reconnect with the work that you enjoy and what made you start the business in the first place- and not only will you enjoy the business more, you will find your perspective begins to change.

Embrace the Art

You may find you aren’t as quick as you once were at doing your craft, some of the details may even escape your memory, but the cool part is that if you have been successful you won’t need to be as productive/efficient as you once were; the pressure isn’t on, so take your time and let your experience fuel your creativity and out of that creativity you will find new avenues that may benefit your entire organization.

Ignore the Voices

Business can feel like a game of “Should”- I should do this, I shouldn’t do that, We should be past this by now, etc..

Stop.

It’s your business, it’s your career, it’s your life.  If you stop to smell the roses either literally or figuratively that is your decision, and it’s one you are unlikely to regret.

So I am waking up at 5:30 again and giving classes to my staff about the trade, reading articles about what’s new and I even started a podcast devoted to air conditioning and technicians to share what I know and what I’m learning.

Guess what?

I feel alive again at work.

Make space to do the things that made you come alive when you first started, don’t do it for the affirmation or the ego of it, don’t do it to “show you’ve still got it”, do it because you want to. That’s reason enough.      

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Bryan Orr
Bryan Orr is a blue collar business owner who helps executives and business owners use storytelling to communicate powerfully with customers and staff. Bryan is a founder of an award-winning small business in Orlando, Fl as well as sought after podcast producer and consultant. Get to know him at Bryanorr.com.

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