In business coaching I have learned that sometimes the greatest breakthroughs in building businesses and lives can come from experiences that seem unrelated. About 10 years ago, I had a client, I will call him ‘Bob’.
Bob was in his early forties and was the self-employed business owner of a pharmaceutical related business with ten employees. The business had done well but was now headed in the wrong direction. Bob was referred to me and his immediate concern was how to boost sales.
Business Coaching: What Is The Real Problem Here?
Bob’s company was profitable. But, it was obvious that the marketing business plan he had put together was not being followed. Since it was a good plan we started to implement it. Business coaching is about holding others accountable for what they have committed to do.
About six months into our relationship I came in on Tuesday afternoon for our meeting. Normally, we met on Monday. We had made some progress but not as much as either one of us would have liked.
That day, Bob, who was about 6’ 5’’ was slumped in his executive chair behind his desk. He actually looked small and I could tell he was very troubled. I sat down and waited.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a minute Bob said, “I just had the 3 minute phone call.”
Business Coaching: What Are The Consequences Of Not Solving The Problem?
At this point the dam of emotion broke and Bob started to tell his story starting when he was 9 years old. When he was 9 his parents got divorced and he had never seen his Dad since. But, his Dad had reestablished contact with him when he was in college. They would talk on the phone for about 3 minutes.
His Dad would talk about all the great things going on in his life. He had even become a millionaire and lost it. He had been married several times. But after talking about himself, at the end of each phone call his Dad would always tell Bob that he could be doing better than he was.
It turned out that this 3 minute phone call now came every Tuesday afternoon. And, as the story unfolded, the time leading up to it and after it was not a good time to be around Bob.
Bob wanted the love and approval of his Dad. He thought that by running a good business that he would gain that. It never happened. In fact, Bob had created before this business, two successful businesses only to see them go downhill and out of business.
What was scary was the pattern was now repeating itself.
Business Coaching: If There Is A Solution, Are You Open To Using It?
In business coaching, there is a solution for almost all problems or challenges. Running a small business is an art, not a science. When there is a solution the question is, is the self-employed business owner open to using it?
Bob was at the point where he had to solve this problem. It turned out that Monday was a very busy and good day at work. He interacted well with his employees. But Tuesdays were not good. The employees knew that for some reason it was time to stay away from Bob on Tuesdays.
Wednesdays were better. Thursdays were good. Bob had pretty much put the phone call behind him. Fridays were not good. It turned out that Bob’s marriage was in trouble and he didn’t look forward to the weekends.
Bob shared with me that on the weekends he would start thinking about the 3 minute phone call with his Dad the following Tuesday. And, his wife was tired of hearing about his fractured relationship with his Dad.
Every Tuesday, the wound of the past as a little boy would be reopened. Bob was now at the point, facing the loss of his business and his family, that he was ready to embrace change.
Business Coaching: Solutions
Relationships can certainly be challenging. And, there are three things you can do with any relationship. You can expand it. You can limit it. You can delete it. And small business success and small business growth are very dependent on having good relationships.
In collaborating and supporting Bob he decided that he was going to limit it. The tricky part was how to limit it.
We came up with a script for the next time his Dad called. He would tell his Dad that he wanted to have a relationship with him but that he, Bob, would do the calling when he felt like it. This was no longer going to be a regular Tuesday occurrence. With regret and hurt in his voice, his Dad accepted the new arrangement.
Then we had to decide when Bob was going to call his Dad. It was determined that the best time to call was when Bob had something good going on in his business or life.
Business Coaching: Process Determines Outcome
Over time things got better at Bob’s business and in his life. His wife was very supportive of him taking control of his relationship with his Dad. His employees were no longer subject to the weekly emotional roller coaster ride and drama.
Bob and I were able to work on improving the business and positioning it to be sold. It took two years but Bob sold it and fulfilled his dream of moving to California.
When the day arrived for Bob to turn over his business to the new owners we were reminiscing about the journey. It was a happy day but bittersweet. We had become close but the journey was over.
Bob thanked me and talked again about the biggest turning point in his life, eliminating the 3 minute phone call. Very often it is the small things that will keep us from the bigger and better things. Master the small things and we do stand a chance with the bigger ones.
Master the small things one at a time. Have someone hold you accountable and you will experience success. Very often breakthroughs happen where we least expect. That’s the fun and challenge of business coaching.