Why success in business favors the neurotic

Among the people I admire are those who have the courage to make bold statements based on their beliefs and experiences. Early in his book, The Road Less Traveled, the late M. Scott Peck endeared himself to me when he declared that the people he saw in his counseling practice essentially fell into two categories: neurotics and those with character disorders.

Peck wrote, “Neurotics are easy to work with in psychotherapy, because they assume responsibility.” He went on to say, “Those with character disorders are difficult, if not impossible, to work with, because they never see themselves as any part of the problem.” Thus missing the invaluable opportunity for self-examination.

Contemplating Dr. Peck’s declaration was a true watershed moment, helping me better understand why people-including me-behave as we do. Both types of Peck’s patients sought his help because they were experiencing difficulties in life. But if we’re honest, we don’t have to be dysfunctional to realize that each of us falls on one side or the other of this behavior coin. It’s an either/or default circumstance, where we’re either more likely to take responsibility for what happens in our life, or we aren’t.

How you would respond to these business scenarios.

Challenge: Amazon and Google are becoming more aggressive on Main Street; meanwhile, a new Big Box company just opened.

Character Disorder reaction: “I hate those companies. How can I compete with their prices and free delivery? Why does the city allow them to come in here and destroy my business?”

Neurotic reaction: “Well, it’s on me to survive or not. No one made me open this business, and those Big Boxes and Amazon can’t take my business from me unless I roll over and give it to them.”

Challenge: Sales are off, profits are down, and cash is tight.

Character Disorder reaction: “How can I be expected to succeed in this economy? My expenses are going through the roof. The bank won’t give me a working capital loan. Why is everything against me?”

Neurotic reaction: “Being a business owner is harder than I thought it was going to be. Obviously, there’s something I’m not doing right. I have to find what that is and fix it myself, because no one else will.”

If you’re on the neurotic side of the coin, the challenge is to focus on taking responsibility in a constructive, solutions-oriented way. Take responsibility without beating yourself up. If you’re on the character disorder side, resist spending precious time and resources focusing on how the world has let you down. Instead, reverse your outward focus - no one else is going to solve your problems. And the world isn’t even listening.

Personal self-analysis may be the most valuable skill we can employ to become a better person and CEO. In a small business, organizational self-analysis - and acceptance of what we find - is essential to sustained success in the marketplace. To demonstrate that I practice what I preach, here’s my bold statement that recommend you claim for yourself - especially any time you find yourself planning a pity party.

Blasingame’s Small Business Success Attitude
I accept that my small business will face challenges every day. As I begin my day, I will assume the attitude that, regardless of the number of challenges, the degree of difficulty, or who caused them, if my business is to survive, I must face each one. Therefore, I know that the only thing in question today is how well I will respond to challenges, and the future of my business may well depend on the answer to that question.

Remember these three important keys to success in business and in life: Take responsibility, practice self-analysis, and seek excellence, not perfection.

Write this on a rock … Remember what Scott Peck said: Neurotics can be fixed, but those with character disorders, not so much.

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