Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do You Hate What You Do for a Living?

I just finished reading Andre Agassi's autobiography OPEN and was surprised to learn that Andre Agassi hates tennis. He says it several times throughout the book. He even hated it when he was young and winning tournaments all the time. Whenever he confesses this fact to friends they are incredulous and don't believe him. Even now, he doesn't have a tennis court at his home.

Basically, tennis was all Agassi knew how to do and so that is what he did. As a child prodigy he spent his school years on the tennis circuit traveling all over the world. He didn't even finish high school. At times his dislike for the game surfaced in his bad attitude or unsportsmanlike antics.

It reminded me of how small business owners can both love and loathe what they do for a living. You feel boxed into a corner like what you are doing is all you know how to do. You may feel like there are no alternatives available. Guess what? Your customers are on to you. They will know if your business is run by someone who hates coming to work every day. It will surface in poor customer service, low quality, bad employees and eventually reduced sales.

Here are a few tips for jazzing up your sales when you feel like you hate what you do for a living:

  • Focus on what you like instead of what you don't like.

  • Be good, but not perfect. Perfectionism can cause you to focus on tiny details that don't matter and can really bog you down.

  • "Control what you can control," is advice Agassi's conditioning coach gave him. Unhappiness can result from feeling like things are out of control. If you don't have the power to change something then let it go.

  • Take a quick look at yourself. Are you miserable in other aspects of your life? As a business owner I definitely understand that work and home life can be one in the same. Make sure your dissatisfaction at work isn't a by-product of other issues in your life.

  • Figure out exactly what it is that you don't like. Don't get overwhelmed and say that you hate EVERYTHING. If it's the 24/7 schedule find a way to have an employee cover for you at times. If it's having employees you can't count on, make finding better employees a priority. If you can articulate what you hate in one sentence then you are on your way to finding a solution to your problem.

  • Don't quit. You may just be unhappy because a big deal you were working on fell through or you lost a key account. Don't let one failure define who you are or the reputation of your business. All businesses have big losses on occasion. Good businesses learn from it and move on.