This morning as I was serving my kids cereal for breakfast, my son suddenly erupted in tears. He hurt his foot at camp yesterday and had just bumped his head on a counter, so I thought he was hurting. When I asked why he was crying, he mumbled something I couldn't understand. After I got him somewhat settled in a family room chair, I managed to get to the root of the problem. It wasn't his foot or his head.
My son was crying because he had to share a box of cereal with his sister. To me, this seemed trivial, but after I reminded myself that he was just six years old, and that telling him his feelings were trivial would only make things worse, I probed more deeply.
Had it not been for his sister, we would not have run out of his favorite cereal, and he would have been able to enjoy that instead of what we had on hand. As I walked through this situation with him, I found myself teaching him how to go from problem to problem solving. Step by step, I asked him easy questions designed to help him identify the exact problem, and then move to what he could do to solve the problem. Finally, he said:
What would solve my problem is if I had my own box of cereal that I didn't have to share with anyone. Can I please have my own box of cereal that I don't have to share with her?
See? The power of asking for what you want. I agreed to let him have his own box of cereal, with his name on it. Boom. Problem solved. (I think.) He immediately felt better. He was able to enjoy his cereal this morning, even though it was not his first choice.
I know that not all problems are solved by other people giving you want you want. But this exercise was valuable for my son because it demonstrated the difference between wallowing in “ugh” and being empowered to identify and then ask for what you want.
Solve Your Own Business Problems
Why am I telling you this? Because as an Indie Business owner, you can use a similar process to solve occasional (hopefully, they're occasional!) general feelings of overwhelm and dissatisfaction when it comes to your business.
If you're experiencing a general feeling of “ugh” in your business, identify as best you can exactly why you are feeling that way. Drill down from the feeling to get to the cause for the feeling. Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, overwhelm is not the problem. It's just the symptom. Maybe you're overwhelmed because you need to delegate some tasks. Maybe you're overwhelmed because you don't like what you do and need to steer your business in a different direction. Maybe you're overwhelmed because you're involved in too many social networking activities and need to pull back.
Once you identify the cause of the feeling, you can identify exactly what you want. You don't want to feel awful of course, so what do you want? What do you think would make the “ugh” go away?
Once you know that, you have empowered yourself to solve your own problem. If you need to delegate tasks, delegate them. If you need to change the course of your business, take proactive steps to do that. If you're involved in too many social networking activities, eliminate some of them or at least set up a schedule so you can be present without driving yourself crazy.
I realize that this is oversimplifying things a bit, and that the process of identifying the problem and creating a plan to eliminate it is overwhelming in and of itself. But it works for me, and it seemed to work for my son. Besides, a temporary spike in “ugh” is a small price to pay to eliminate it over the long haul so you can achieve your goals.
Back To My Son
I'm not a psychologist or family therapist, but I have read that children need to encouraged to feel a sense of power and ownership. Even if it is over a trivial box of cereal.
Question: How do you handle things when you feel “ugh” about your business? Did I do the right thing by leading my son through a process that ultimately means he'll not have to share a box of cereal with his sister?