I tell you this to let you know that my brother’s and I were fast friends as children. We spent lots of time together and enjoyed each other’s company. But that’s not our reality today. As I started to run my business, I noticed that spending time with them was dragging me down. It was dragging me into a place where I wasn’t taking control of my business. I was letting their complaining influence my work, and I was falling into the subtle trap of blaming everything around me for any misfortune that came my way.
I was allowing myself to become a victim instead of owning my success. We have all heard stories of people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and blame others for their failures. It’s their parents fault, their boss’s fault, the fall of the conservatives or liberals, the cigarette companies, the fast-food industry – the system is out to get them. Whah, whah, whah! Someone or something else is always the cause of their failure. – [The 12 Week Year]
The truth is that successful business owners aren’t victims. People like you and I take the bull by the horns and produce good work.
What the victim mentality looks like
The victim mentality shows up when you blame a bad client for a project not working out. If you have a bad customer, you need to have a better [client vetting process]. If you “have” to take those bad clients to make ends meet, it’s your fault for not specialising. It’s your fault for not budgeting effectively and living within your earnings. Being a victim means blaming some technical problem for not delivering a project on time. If your timelines are so tight you can’t deal with a technical issue, you planned poorly.
If you can’t pay your taxes at the end of the year, that’s not the government’s fault. Taxes are not a surprise. You should have saved. If you can’t set money for taxes and pay yourself market rates and afford your expenses, you run a hobby, not a business. The thing is that it’s easy to fall into the thinking above. You watch the sanitised life of others on Twitter or Facebook and look at your reality against their edited life. You’ll never match up to that false reality. If you’re ready to be successful, then it’s time to break the victim mentality and start taking responsibility for your business. It’s time to change the victim mentality.
How successful business owners avoid falling into the victim mentality
The first place to start when trying to change your victim mindset is to change your self-talk. No more “It’s someone else’s fault”. Instead, acknowledge you made a mistake and state the next step to get yourself out of it. If you’ve got a bad client the self-talk will look like: “This client demands too much phone time. Next time I’ll make it clear to a prospect how often we talk on the phone. I’ll also designate one day a week to calls.” Taking that even further, when you have a problem with a bad client, stop yourself and write down three ways you contributed to the problem. The project that is late is rarely only the fault of your client. If you hadn’t overbooked yourself, you would have had more time to land the project earlier. Making sure you don’t overbook yourself next time.
One way to take control of your time and land projects on time is to stay off social media. While Twitter and Facebook and Slack may be your ‘water cooler’ you shouldn’t be spending all day at the cooler. If you worked in an office and spent that much time at the water cooler, you wouldn’t have a job. You may not have a business because you’re doing that same thing with your social poison of choice. Social media also promotes a victim mentality. As I said above, you measure your current reality against the sanitised and polished version of the people you follow. You can’t help but feel like everyone else is more successful than you.
A final way to break out of the victim mentality is to establish boundaries. I had a client one time that would liberally swear at me. They weren’t being mean really, but they were very colourful. One of my boundaries is that I’ll only deal with people that speak respectfully to me. I enforced that by hanging up as soon as they started one of their profanity-laced rants. It took three hang ups in 10 minutes for them to finally make a comment about the phone not working. Only then would they give me any space to remind them that I had told them I’d hang up if they kept swearing at me.
The swearing stopped immediately, and I was no longer a victim. Having a victim mentality will only harm your business. You’re telling yourself the lie that you can’t take control of your business. You’ll wonder why you never hit your goals. You’ll be baffled when you see others that can’t perform as well as you, gain more success than you do. By changing how you think, you’ll be able to short circuit any thoughts of being at the whim of the great business god in the sky. You’ll start to take control of your success. When you start to take control, good things will happen to your business.