Is Being Hard Headed Good for Your Business?

Am I hard headed?

Without a doubt.

Like most Entrepreneurs, I am.  I like things done my way: I don't want your help in the kitchen, I don't need your help with Crossfit, and don't even think about giving me advice about my business.

But what really got me into trouble comes from not wanting to go to the Doctor. Although I have put on some weight over the past few years that I am working off right now (, I am generally pretty healthy.  Doctors I have gone to in the past envy my cholesterol levels, I am hardly ever sick, and other than tendinitis in my Achilles tendon, I don't have any nagging injuries or pains.  

And when I do get sick, I typically know what to do to make myself feel better.  I typically act like a giant baby when I am sick, but I get over it quickly. I am an aficionado of over the counter and natural remedies for pretty much any illness I have contracted, and that has worked for me until the "Flu-pedemic" of December 2014. 

Even though I could barely hold myself upright in the shower, couldn't play with my daughter, didn't want to eat anything, couldn't even think of working, and could barely climb onto the couch, I wasn't going to go to the Doctor.  I knew that they could provide the medical intervention that I so desperately needed.  I was miserable, and because I am hard headed, I decided not to go to the Doctor, but that I would wait this out too in my agony. 

This experience opened my eyes to another world where I realize that I don't have all the answers.  And the great news is: I don't have to know everything.  One of the most valuable resolutions I have made is to eliminate my utter reliance on myself, evaluate the areas in which I am weak, and get the help that I need in those areas.

Are you hard headed?

If you are a Business Owner or Entrepreneur you probably are, and in many ways, that is a great thing.  When the going got tough it is what has kept you from quitting.  When you had to find a way, you found one because you weren't going to give in. It has decidedly helped you stick to your guns when you had to make hard decisions.

While being hard headed is definitely a strength, it is also a weakness.  If you have to do things your way because they were your ideas then being hard headed is definitely a detriment to your business success.  As much as I love Entrepreneurs and Business Owners, we do tend to fall in love with our own ideas; some of those ideas are good, and some of them not so good.  

It is ok to have ideas that aren't so good as long as you can learn from them.  In my experience working with a lot of hard headed individuals, it is hard to learn from those bad ideas if you are hard headed because you will hold onto them for far too long.  I should know, when I worked as the Director of Business Development and Affiliated Realtor Training at Bull's Eye Investment Group, holding onto bad ideas almost ruined us.  I had a lot of failures over my career that I have learned from and have greatly improved my skill set as a consultant.

I had a boss very early in my career that was concerned that I never reached out for help, and he shared this truth: "When you hire someone that is smarter than you, you prove that you are smarter than they are."  Why?  Because you have the sense to put the best talent to work for you.  You use their ideas and their effort (and in some cases their money) to increase revenues. Quite simply, you are increasing your leverage by hiring high-aptitude, cutting-edge employees, vendors, and consultants.

So what is the prescription for hardheadedness?

1. Get input from employees often.  I am not advocating that you relinquish control of the decision-making process, but rather brainstorm problems with your key employees in their areas of expertise.  I advocate a weekly bullpen session with your employees to keep open channels of communication and encourage their creativity and resourcefulness.  When you empower your subordinates, they will not let you down.

2. Educate yourself.  I have long said that there is no business problem that cannot be overcome with better education. Attend workshops, go to industry conferences, become a regular at your local bookstore (or Amazon).  I have found that these resources make business owners far more rounded in their vision and management skill set.

3. Dig your well before you are thirsty. Yes, Harvey McKay had it right.  Start the process of creating strategic relationship with the people that can provide the best answers before you need the answers. Seek out Consultants, and Providers, and Partners who can cover the gaps you have in skill set and can provide a fresh view on opportunities that you might otherwise miss.

4. Take action on great advice.  There is a saying about elbows and a------, how everyone has them and most of them stink.  When I was a Freshman, I had to learn the ten principles of the effective speaker. Number six has stuck with me from the day I learned it. "The effective speaker reads and listens with discrimination, neither blindly accepting the ideas of others, nor stubbornly refusing to accept ideas opposed to his own."  Perhaps this is one that we should adapt as "Effective Business Owners" and "Effective Entrepreneurs".  When you hear great advice that resonates with you, be sure to take massive action on it.