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By Tony Misura

WHAT IS THE STORY YOU ARE TELLING YOURSELF? “I am always in conversation and sometimes other people are involved.” – Mark Twain It is human nature to explain our life experiences to ourselves in a way that supports our beliefs and protects our ego. These “stories” are based on fact but colored by our perspective. Everyone has a perspective – they may be different than our own, but this doesn’t mean they are wrong. Perspectives are subjective. As leaders it’s our role to flush out the facts, separate them from the explanations and excuses (stories), and make sure our decisions and actions are based on an objective assessment of the situation. The following are common stories I have heard from industry owners and leaders: “The rising lumber market significantly reduced our company profits in 2017.” While it may be a fact that the lumber markets are rising, it is not the “lumber market’s” fault that profits are falling. It is the owner/leader that lacked the foresight to develop a purchasing strategy to coincide with the long-term pricing guarantees, and then allowed the sales team to be lazy in their response to these market changes. “The housing starts, and job growth rates are flat in my market area, reducing our profits” and “The political leadership is hurting business in my area.” Again, it may be a fact that housing starts, and job growth are flat, however, healthy businesses run by astute leaders gain share in a retracting market. A rising tide raises all boats, even the leaky ones. Too often the core strategy, or lack thereof, for many owners is reliant on the market or other factors outside their control. Instead, explore the growth areas in your market. Find the soft spots of your competition, innovate, evolve, and grow. Your profits are reflective of your unique value proposition, operational discipline, and culture. All three of these define your purpose and are within your circle of control. “The unemployment rate is so low I cannot hire enough people to improve my profits” usually followed by “The turnover rate of millennials is hurting my business.” Yes, unemployment rates are low, but your high turnover rate is more likely reflective of your strategic business plan, strength of leadership and culture. The best leaders develop excellent human resource executives, who turn their human resources department into a core competitive strength. Companies that continue to over-value operations and sales executives and leave human resources in a subordinate role will continue to be disadvantaged and deprived. Owners and leaders – take control, rise above the common emotional self-preservation conversations in your head. Observe, collect the facts, and adjust your stories based on the newly found information. The best cultures actively make this a team event, supporting each other and constantly searching for new perspectives on common topics. The opportunities are there but you must change your perspective to see them. Hire Smarter™ - Tony Misura
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