Entrepreneurs and small business owners often feel lonely and precarious on their perch as the leader of their business. Keeping the team and themselves motivated despite seemingly overwhelming challenges can be a daunting and draining daily task. Putting on a brave face and smiling can go a long way in keeping the team working. You may be convinced that they would bolt if they were to comprehend just a small fraction of your fears.
No matter how hard you try to maintain a positive outlook and attitude, your doubts and fears can easily slip into the words and language you use in everyday communications. You begin to use hedging language, or phrases, that reveal hidden uncertainty about the subject at hand. Consider simple phrases, like, “I think so…”, or, “It should be…”, or, “I hope so….” They seem harmless enough but they suggest uncertainty or doubt and over time they create a pattern that permeates the attitude of the entire team.
These expressions can do major damage to your own psyche as well. They reinforce any uncertainty you are already feeling and allow the doubts to grow into self-destructive fear and distress. Saying your doubts out loud to others with no attempt to counter them with positive actions and affirmations is like throwing out a huge drag net behind your boat. It will take enormous energy to overcome the drag and as you continue the net only becomes bigger.
The good news is that with only a small conscious effort, you can change the words you use. Try saying, “Yes…”, instead of, “I think so…”, or suggesting specific steps to clarify any uncertainty so that work may move forward in a productive way. You’ve already learned how to mask your true feelings by wearing a smile and appearing to be in control. Choosing appropriate words to go along with that attitude goes a long way to keeping the team on track.
Filled with uncertainty and fear, you may feel that you are being deceptive by pretending that everything is fine and putting a positive face on a bad situation. Unless your business is imminently headed for bankruptcy and all of the facts make that clear, there is nothing deceptive about believing in the vision and the dream for your business. Every business goes through rough times. Successful leaders are the ones who maintain an objective focus on the vision and desired outcomes they want to achieve.
In addition to shifting language for everyday tasks, it is equally important to anchor your work and the team’s performance with your vision and mission. Remind them constantly how what they are doing helps to get the business closer to the dream. Congratulate them on every small accomplishment that represents another step toward your goals, both short and long term. This acknowledgement and affirmation will keep them motivated to keep working at peak performance. You might just find that this action-filled language and positive reinforcement serves as a major attitude adjustment for you too. Choose your words and you choose your outcome.