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Edition 196 – The Road to Business Injury

Three days prior to flying to Canada a few weeks ago, I injured my back. It was the most innocuous of actions, reaching for something in the shower, that made it give way. The slight reach meant my legs collapsed from underneath me as the excruciating pain tore through my lower back.

What followed were a couple of intensive physiotherapy sessions, followed by stretching exercises and intermittent periods of rest that just needed to happen if I was going to present at Sydney Airport on Friday morning.

I also had to make some last minute changes to my schedule. I cancelled my car parking at the airport so our son, Callum, could drop me in and help me with my luggage. He did that the night before as I booked a last minute overnighter at the airport hotel to avoid the early AM traffic. A mad dash to upgrade to business class seats and a google search of physiotherapists in Vancouver for an arrival check up meant that a rush contingency plan was put in place to ensure I landed as best as I could, and was checked up after a 15 hour flight.

The funny thing is, I should have known this was going to happen! My back tends to play up when I’ve put on a few kilos, spent too much time sitting, commit to very little physical activity and am stressed about getting things done before a trip or taking leave.

The same happens in our family businesses, every day. We let things ride until something turns pear-shaped.

We don’t commit to regular training or tool box talks for our staff, until there is an incident, an accident, or worse, in the workplace.

We don’t market our businesses or make the effort to create new customers until we’ve lost an important one.

We don’t worry about the bank balance until one day, when we login in, the number is frighteningly low.

We don’t focus on innovating our product or service, or inventing a new one, until, when we finally take a moment to reflect, we look back and notice what we thought was a a gradual decline was actually a seismic shift. 

Contingency plans sometimes work. But they’re really band-aid exercises to get you through. They’re not long term solutions.

What it really takes is a focus on changing what we’re doing to create a new, improved, ideal future. Like a change in diet and finally signing up to a gym programme, all guided by someone who can give direction, support and, occasionally, a necessary kick in the tush!

Like our bodies need movement, so do our family businesses. If you’re standing still, you’re falling backwards. If you don’t move it, you might lose it.