I just ended another of my Wednesday business sessions with a friend of mine. He is the former CEO of a pretty large (actually mind bogglingly large... but not like Chase Bank large... really big OK!?) business and has the mind and experience in business that I lack. I am making serious strides, with his help, but still feel pretty "Simple Sam" when it comes to business. Anyway, he has really made a huge difference for how we do things around here regarding the money, accounts, invoices, reports,etc. We have systems and routines that are finally generating some data that help us make decisions and "work smarter".
The more I work with him, where he rubs off on me the most is just in terms of keeping it all in check, in perspective. Its funny, people generally think I am a pretty laid back cat... anal and serious... but laid back. People like this buddy of mine (and another I will mention in a minute) actually know I am a pretty tight ball of stress a great deal of the time. Too much of the time. I don't like to admit this, but its true and most of it stems from anxiety related to the management of the business side of the equation. Its like no matter the evidence to the contrary I can always find a way to see the "worry" in the situation. Its not quite a "glass half empty" mentality, but close. Its more like a "Yeah, that looks good... but I think I can probably screw it up and turn it into a less positive and more (financially) tight situation".
I don't want to get all deep into my business management psychosis... but the fact is that I am having to develop and become comfortable with a whole different host of realities around money now that I am operating as an independent business owner. The variables are vastly different, the flow of money is vastly different, the number of things I have to pay attention to and see shift and flux are vastly different (as compared to when I was collecting a pay check). So for me, its really amazing to see and be with someone who has been in and out of so many situations, business situations, that he simply is not phased. Granted, we meet to talk and work on my business and my money... but still its palpable.
Today is a good example. In the course of our discussion we hit on a pretty significant "blip" (lets call it a blip, shall we?) in how my taxes were filed this year. Now I have been looking forward to my tax return for some time, and feel confident in my projections for the size of that return based on past years. I also have to admit to having a pretty loose idea of how it all works ("loose" = very little idea if any at all). So what we saw today could have quite an impact. That realization almost sent me into anaphylactic shock ( stifled... well disguised... and partially denied shock, but shock non the less). I can not seem to escape the frame of mind that I am one step away from ruin at any given moment... no matter the evidence to the contrary. Furthermore I am usually 100% guilty of tossing the baby, the tub, washcloth, drain plug, and the floor tiles out with the bath water if something looks like its going in the wrong direction.
I love being around this guy simply because his presence is calming and steady and it forces me to call myself out on being addicted to anxiety around the business management. It also forces me to take a real close look at what it is that I am afraid of and how, if I were to let my experiences see the light of day I would begin to ease away from this precipice I constantly place myself on related to the business.
I mean, its not appropriate anymore but I can't seem to let it go. Like in the first couple years it was OK, maybe even justified. I didn't know squat... just farming. I also had not history, no customers, no track record. I also had no experience with these types of issues or decisions so they ALL stressed me out. Its not like that anymore, and I am making progress... but this particular friend shows me how far I still have to go... At least he is generous and humble... its not like he sits around telling me to "shut up and relax".
That job falls to my other friend. If this were the perfect world I'd just toss their names around but you never know what might develop so I'll maintain confidentiality. So the other guy actually tells me to shut up and relax quite a bit. I need that too. He came for a 3 hour drive with me last Sunday to drop off some pigs. That right there tells you quite a bit. Three hours... on a Sunday afternoon! Destination... a cold, dark, "end of the line" establishment (so to speak). And the whole trip he is telling me how I got it made, the kids, the farm, the life! And he's right... but the reminders are so helpful and necessary! Why? Because I spend too much time in my head that's why, in my head with the spreadsheets and numbers... and the worry!
So these guys.... I just would not be able to do it without them.