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In 2018 a family in China made global headlines when it came to light  they had been raising a Asiatic black bear thinking it was a dog.

Only after 2 years and several hundred kilos of food did it become apparent the reason their dog was still growing was the simple fact it was not a dog.

During these 2 years the family had lovingly cared for the bear and treated it as part of the family, without any outside influence they may well have continued to believe they simply had an oversized puppy. Without being told they had a dangerous bear in the house they would have been none the wiser until one day they woke up to discover one of the children was missing.

“Most of us live with a degree of naivety in work and in life.”

What would happen if you invited someone inside to look at your business?

Would they report that everything is as you believe it to be? Or are there some skeletons in the cupboard that you are unaware of or simply blind to?

There is no doubt that every businesses I’ve been involved with has the best intentions (I don’t work with those who have ulterior motives). The unfortunate truth is that whilst we are trying our hardest we are not perfect and some areas of our work will be found wanting.

“When outsiders take a look inside they see what we cannot.”

This scares most people and makes us defensive – what if the business we thought was practically perfect is in fact on the cusp of insolvency? I once developed an attachment to a weed in the garden that I had looked after for weeks under the false impression it was a flower, it became quite hard to then dig it up when my wife wanted it removed!

In reality most business owners have a good feel for what is going on and very rarely do I have to deliver devastating news about the future of their company.

That is however, only the business owners brave enough to let someone look under the bonnet.

Are you brave enough to take the plunge and ask?

You already are; you’ve had teachers mark your homework and colleagues judge your performance. Ever played sport or run a race? Your performance was judged here as well – how did you compare to everyone else?

“We are judged our whole lives whether people mean to or not and whether we like it or not.”

With that in mind why not ask people you trust to judge something you hold dear? If their feedback can help you improve yourself or your business then what is there to lose?

I would wager the only thing stopping you asking is your ego and fear of failure; this holds me back on a regular basis. However, I am increasingly aware of the fact and push myself to ask for feedback, advice and support. It hurts and it is uncomfortable, but that means I know it is working and I begin to associate it with progress.

“Hang out in uncomfortable places to move forwards – tension seeks resolution”

If something is not right in your business or your life you will feel it and deep down you know it. Ignore it and it will get more painful and stop you achieving what you desire to achieve; by the time you admit the problem it will be too late.

“Keep bending it, if it snaps it was always going to break”

If we are scared of pushing something for fear of failure then we are intrinsically holding ourselves back; great engineers like Brunel didn’t create without causing materials to fail. Those failings were paramount to understanding what different compounds and building techniques were capable of, without some elements snapping we wouldn’t have the architecture we have today.

The longer we tease something without pushing the longer we draw out the process and make it painful on ourselves.

Through being positive we can push and take chances, when things snap and break we learn from the and move on. This enables us to build businesses and relationships that last for years and continue to grow.

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