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Edition 78 – Guilt & Justification

As the owner or manager of a family business, do you feel a sense of guilt when you do something for yourself such as:

  1. Have a day off.
  2. Finish early on a Friday.
  3. Take your family on a nice holiday.
  4. Buy yourself a toy as a reward for the effort you have invested.
  5. Put your feet up on the desk for an hour and just think about the business.

Guilt is a common theme that I am seeing amongst family business owners and the higher level managers in those family businesses throughout 2017.

“My staff can’t see that I’ve bought myself a new fancy car” I’ve heard.

“I’m not telling my team where I am going on holidays at the end of the year until I’m ready to board the plane” is a line I myself have run out in the past.

To overcome that sense of guilt, these same people then feel they need to justify their reward or time off to others in their business.

What we need to remember is that guilt is an internal emotion. No one makes you feel guilty. Only you make yourself feel guilty.

You feel guilty because you don’t truly feel that you’ve earned your reward. You feel guilty because you are not selfish enough. You put others first and will often forgo things to ensure others are kept happy or rewarded.

Now, as a number of you have heard me say throughout this year, here is my advice.

Stop it. 

Stop feeling guilty. It is only you that is making you feel guilty, no one else. Stop justifying yourself to others as a result of your guilt.

If you continue to go down this road, you are actually demonstrating to everyone that you have a low level of self esteem. You are telling them that you don’t believe you are worthy of a reward and, as such, really aren’t that good at setting an example. You’re telling them that you’re not that great a leader.

So, to help you overcome your sense of guilt and stop feeling as if you need to justify your decision, here are a few tips:

  1. If you want to finish early one day, simply gather your things, shut down the computer, close your door, say goodbye and head out the door. You don’t need to give a reason. If anyone asks, you have another commitment.
  2.  If you decide to reward yourself with a new purchase, and can afford to, do it. If someone passes comment about your new purchase, simply remind them that with the same level of investment, commitment and risk taking, they too can enjoy those rewards.
  3. If you have your feet up on the desk one afternoon and one of your employees stumbles in and questions what is going on, merely reply giving consideration to how you can continue to develop your business so that you can provide them and their families with a future.

Take the high ground when it comes to rewarding yourself. You and your family are the ones that have risked everything to create your business and the opportunities that it is leading to. You wouldn’t deny your family that same reward and you wouldn’t feel they should have to justify the reward to you. So, the same applies for you, your reward and those around you.

This Week’s Tip

If you deny yourself a reward because of what others might say, think or do, you only continue to perpetuate the worst of Australian traits, the tall poppy syndrome.