RückenschmerzenLast weekend I had the pleasure of ushering in my fortieth birthday with two shots of cortisone in my lower back.  I guess it was either that or a trip to the islands for some free diving.  When you step back and look at it…I mean who can resist long epidural-like needles into your spine?

While I was waiting in the prep room wearing the equivalent of a speedo with no backing, a gown that must be see-through it’s so thin and an IV in my arm, of course I started thinking about the kitchen and bath industry. I could feel myself getting geared up for the procedure (hey, who doesn’t hate needles) and in pops the thought that this must be what industry owners feel with their businesses.  Then someone stuck me with something akin to Valium and I was just happy to be there.  I was so numb I don’t remember much of what even happened.

Feeling the Pain

My thought before I started down toad’s wild ride of euphoria was that you owners must get pretty geared up too.  All these things you want to do differently yet sales are struggling, lead generation is probably not very consistent and the mistakes of the business still eat into your precious margins.

As your business grew, shrunk then even started growing back slowly, you had to work on other areas of the business to keep things running.  You know, fun stuff like payroll, taxes, legal, accounting and maybe even building a culture (if you even had that luxury).

Instead of dealing with the old pain points head on, however, I’ve witnessed many of you decide to take the numb route.  It’s called disconnecting – that’s when you’re sufficiently removed from the pain such that it doesn’t feel as bad as it once was.

Take the Shot of Cortisone, You’ll Love It

The pain you felt in the early years when you were on the front lines was intense.  Like the pain your employees feel now.  And in those years you witnessed the struggles of the business in all its glory and wished it could be better.  You struggled, toiled, stayed late and even worked on weekends.  It took hours to do the simplest of things.  You may have even promised yourself to one day fix it.

But since you’re so disconnected you’ve effectively put cortisone in your operation’s nerve center.  Hey that stuff really works, you know.  Your team complains like you once did.  They’re living what you lived back then, but now even more complexities, tougher markets and exhausting competitors.  And sure you remember some of it – but living it every day like they do is different.

Will You Remain Numb

Being numb to the pain feels good, but it doesn’t really change anything.  It disguises your pain, turning a problem into an after thought – something on the top of your seventh priority list.

So while I won’t be taking up football as a sport anytime soon because of my back injury all those years ago, I can move around freely for the next few years.  But I remember always that my injury is still there and I might still damage it further.

Your operation and its pain aren’t as permanent as my back injury.  Staying disconnected from the realities your team lives day in and day out might even feel good for a while.  But remember that if you don’t deal with the inefficiencies of your marketing, sales and operations now, you’re doing real damage to your business.

Who knows, maybe your operation is different.  Maybe you can market and sell more effectively without changing anything substantial.  You know, just do nothing and wait.

Unless of course your operation turns the equivalent of forty like I did.