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Roses and Thorns

Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

This powerful statement illustrates both the influence and the problem with perspectives.

We all have unique ways of looking at things in life, and each perspective provides a separate stream of experience in which we live and operate. We have the ability to manage our perspectives, and through managing them, we find two predominant issues to focus on: getting a correct perspective and keeping that perspective.

Issue #1: Correct Perspective

In our business world, we have two perspectives that need our constant attention. One is the internal perspective of our business.

Internal Perspective

This perspective is how we think our business is doing. Typically, this focus is driven by how we look at our self-defined analytics. We all have certain metrics that we examine daily, weekly, and monthly that we hope provides a picture of our business. By selecting certain measurements, we can cloud or clarify how we are performing.

For example, we have one metric that shows our sales numbers are down. But does this really give us a picture of how we are doing? Is this reduction because we have intentionally adjusted our prices or services to make long-term gains? Or are sales down because our sales staff are not meeting goals? Maybe we need to find a better metric to give us a better picture of our business.

Selecting the correct metrics by which we develop our internal perspectives is paramount. These metrics give us our only insight into our performance. Running a company is an all-consuming enterprise, and having the correct data, and religiously following that data, is what leads to success.

External Perspective

The second perspective that needs our constant attention is our external perspective. We need to be aware of how our businesses are perceived outside our walls. Do our clients and competitors see how we live out our values? Is our mission statement known and acknowledged? Are we seen as competitors by the companies we think of as competitors?

The question we need to be asking is “does the outside world see our business the same way we see our business?”.

Taking off the blinders of focusing only on our internal business will open a new world of perspectives for the business leader who wants to grow and expand their business. You not only learn how you are perceived in the marketplace but also how you need to be perceived.

The difference between how you are currently perceived and how you need to be perceived will give you direction on where and how to lead your business.

Issue #2: Keeping Your Perspective

Perspectives are difficult to keep. The business environment is constantly changing, and the needs of clients and services offered by competitors are endlessly shifting. Negative perspectives are always lurking, and while you should not be unreasonably optimistic about your business world, dwelling on negative perspective will only make meeting your goals more difficult.

Here are several thoughts on keeping things in perspective.

  1. Turn the statistics around. If a report says 5% of your customers are unhappy, think about a report that might say 95% of your customers are happy. What would that change in any of your decisions and actions?
  2. Consider the best that could happen and the worst that could happen. And then place your current status within that spectrum.
  3. When something is not going well, make a list of the things that are going well and use it to remind you of where you want to go.
  4. Remember, nothing is insurmountable. There are plenty of resources of amazing stories where people have overcome much more than you are facing with much less.

The Bible

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God will be there to help you find and keep the correct perspective. And, even when that perspective is negative and discouraging, He will be there next to your side as you go through those troubled times.

To successfully manage our businesses, we must have the correct internal and external perspectives. It is through these perspectives you make all your business decisions. Just remember, you do not have to make these decisions alone.