Overcoming Your Achilles

Overcoming Your Achilles

In my last blog, I talked about times of crisis and some ways that communities, businesses, and non-profits could overcome them.  What was somewhat hinted at in that article, but not directly stated, is that each one of those entities, and by extension individuals, have chinks in our armor.  We each have an Achilles heel in our goals, our dreams, our ambitions; weaknesses that could make it harder to move forward in our lives.

An Achilles Heel

The story of Achilles is a well-known tale from ancient Greece, chronicling the life of Achilles.  Achilles was the bravest, most handsome, and smartest man around, destined to win battles in the Trojan War.  It was said that Achilles would die in battle and to prevent that, his mother dipped him in the River Styx to make him immortal.  Yet, his heel where she held him had not been submerged and that was where he was eventually shot and he died from his wound.  This is where we get the concept to describe a person’s fatal weakness.

Focus on Flaws

While I believe in focusing on the positives in your life, it’s also important to focus on your flaws.  These flaws could be the weakness that keep you from reaching your goals, especially if you are not aware of them.  Most consultants and businesses do a great job of playing their own “hype” man or woman, but they do a pretty lousy job of NOT knowing where they are weak.  Or they choose not to focus on those areas.

This strategy can work.  If your weakness is that you don’t like traveling to meet clients and prefer to work from home, then you can tailor your business to that approach.  The pandemic likely reconfirmed this idea.  However, there are still holes in that approach as a lot of business connections and resources are done via the in-person and/or personal connection.  Regardless of how much time you spend online with someone, there are still limits to understanding and interaction that cannot be replaced by those interpersonal paradigms.  Does this mean your business is doomed to fail if you choose not to combat your weakness?  No.  But it might mean that you are stifling your own growth.

Easier said than done, I know.  I tend to focus on my strengths, kicking the can down the road on any perceived weakness I might have.  However, after an introspective look, I realize that my flaw is follow-through.  Not follow-through with clients, but with myself.  There are a number of different ways that I intend to grow my business and continue to develop.  Yet, I keep finding ways to push it off down the road or talk myself out of that iteration of the plan because it’s not perfect.  Or I would like to find a way to pilot it first, test it out so I know if it’s worth the long-term effort.

This approach has cost me in more than one way.  I haven’t developed my business as quickly as I had planned, keeping my goals out of reach for the time being.  This can have a mental toll as well, making it feel like I might never get there.  Additionally, I have not been able to directly work with clients in some of these other fields because I have not been confident enough to work these ideas or methods into a contract, even though it could help them.    I have seen many businesses willing to help pilot something, especially if they can see the long-term benefits of the approach.  Businesses are by nature creative and innovative if they want to stay alive, so they can recognize the benefits of what might seem like a long-shot approach to a consultant.

I have been working on ways to overcome this fatal flaw, this weakness in my business plan.  One of the ways I have done this is to talk to colleagues, letting them know some of my goals so they can help push me.  The mere act of having someone else ask how that new product or idea is progressing can force you into working on it or admitting defeat.  A second way I have been working on overcoming this is to put it in my responses to clients or RFPs so that people know it is an option.  This forces me to sit down and write out a basic summary, but have a longer game plan in mind.  These are not exhaustive, but these are ways that I am working on overcoming my Achilles.  Success or failure, whenever you take action, it’s always better than responding to someone else’s.

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to overcome your Achilles is to be aware of it.  Once you know the issue, you can work to resolve it.  This will take time and you are likely to fail at times, just like you did when first starting out.  However, you learned something from all of those failures and you will from these as well.  You just have to be as willing to focus on them as you did when you first went into business.  Like most concepts to success in business, it’s a mental game.  If you can focus on the positive outcome and see yourself achieving it, you have a chance at overcoming.

Now, there is no such thing as a perfect business or a perfect person.  There will always be an oversight, a hole, a flaw in your work.  As people change and businesses adapt, new ones will be discovered and old ones might go away.  But the thing about an Achilles is that it is your FATAL flaw, be it in business or personality.  By working to overcome it, reduce it to the background, then you can move past it and begin to expand your business around that earlier lapse.

Watch For My Next Blog!

Keep an eye out for my next blog!  I’m not sure what I will be discussing yet because I like to try and live in the moment, so stay tuned!

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