the business of "feeling"
When I think of successful business leaders, my mind immediately jumps to one of my all-time favorites – Mark Cuban. Before I started a deeper dive into Mark Cuban via books and articles, I was introduced to him (like most of America) through the TV show “Shark Tank” (which became my Friday night ritual when I reached an age where I was entirely too tired from working to even attempt to do anything social on a Friday night other than veg out on the couch.)
What attracted me to Mark Cuban? Well – he was pretty much everything I thought I majorly lacked in business. He had “cojones” – and he by-far struck me as the most confident of the investor on the Shark Tank panel. He always seemed to ask the right questions and I admired his brutal honesty. That, my friends, is a guy I knew I could learn from. After all, I was lucky enough to just narrowly miss “everyone gets a trophy” culture growing up – if you don’t have the talent, you don’t place. End of story. I believed that. I wanted to learn to be MORE like that.
I look up to Mark Cuban because – if I were in his position I would make an absolutely terrible Mark Cuban, and obviously, opposites attract. I would tell someone I didn’t like their idea, but I would probably invest anyway because I empathized with all of the hard work, effort and behind the scenes work they put into investing their life in their business. Even if it were not a smart business idea, I would sit in that chair and be tricked by feeling the passion that people have for their ideas. I fall victim to this on almost a daily basis now.
Real Truth #1: Almost every time I failed in business or life had something to do with some kind of feelings that weren’t always completely logical and sane. For a long time, I believe that feeling and empathy, while making me a “good person” to be around, would halt my success in getting where I wanted to be; I would get close, but no “cigar”.
Real Truth #2: Sometimes we get so brainwashed into believing what our own weaknesses are, that we don’t realize that sometimes what we perceive to be weaknesses and flaws that “inhibit” growth, are actually strengths. Strengths that, if practiced, can turn into positive growth and successes.
My feelings may get me emotional sometimes. I may get frustrated where others are capable of remaining calm and unaffected and are able to simply “let it go”. But it also helps me kick-butt on things that ALSO really matter – in life and business.
Establish good relationships. Most empathetic people actually action themselves by the “Golden Rule” – treat others the way you want to be treated. Trying to action that in business – is going to cause some really BADbusiness decisions. I can attest to that. But in the end, you’ve created a bond that could end up being much more valuable than what you lost. You may lose money, but you gain capital in people – and I’m firm in believing when you are trying to “move mountains” it all comes down to who can help you. Help people, and they will help you. And if they don’t help you – help them anyway.
Anticipate needs. Empathy is also often referred to as the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s the ability to get inside someone’s head and sometimes someone’s heart. If you put yourself in the same situation as a client, boss or co-worker, you get REALLY good at anticipating their needs. You become thoughtful. You can make moves they never saw coming and therefore, you can add value to your relationships. “Here’s a document that you didn’t ask me for” – ends up becoming exactly what the boss, client, co-worker needed. That piece is more valuable than any piece you might have even been asked to work on. And who’s dream isn’t to add value to the lives of those around you? (That’s a post for another day!)
Take ownership. I can remember taking ownership of other’s problems causing me some of the WORST stress and the times where I couldn’t help, causing me even MORE stress. I already had my problems – but I often couldn’t say no to helping with other problems. And if I did say no – I felt an incredible, surmounting GUILT over it. But for as much stress as it caused me, it would never outweigh the benefits of being a support system, and support MATTERS when it comes to success in anything – especially business. Case and point: The support system of Steve Jobs was one of the major driving factors in his return to Apple.
Try marketing. This is silly, but I truly believe being empathetic is what makes helps me excel at social media marketing. The ability to put myself out of my own head and into the minds of others allows me to dissect the way people make decisions and emotional purchases and tap into it when I develop strategies and content for businesses. It helps me do a better job at uncovering need and want and delivering what I feel to be benefit to both the company AND the consumer. Call me a matchmaker, but most successful matchmakers are also pretty high in EQ too.
My point being – don’t let your “weaknesses” hold you back when they could be a force that drives you forward. You don’t have to emulate your role models to be successful, you just have to find those things that you do well and not let one perspective hold you back. Know and respect what makes people, like Mark Cuban, amazing leaders – but know also know it may not be the same as what makes YOU an amazing leader.