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When is it OK for Another Business to Be Cause for My Business?

On Monday I came in to my office to find no phone and no Internet. Again.

I took this project for myself, and spent almost an hour on my cell phone talking to - but not communicating with - AT&T support.

Ten hours later I'm looking at what I have learned while two technicians are wandering around outside waiting for another tech, somewhere else, to accomplish some task that was supposed to have been done hours ago. Besides offering these guys coffee there isn't much else to do for them. I can only do things for me.

So what have I learned? I've learned something about customer service. I've learned even more about me.

On customer service - I will never again tell a client to train the front line staff to listen, then to repeat what the customer said, and then to ignore the customer. These are intelligent people who work for AT&T. When I pointed out that they were listening and then ignoring what I said, almost every one of the employees agreed with me. They then ignored my comments about that as well.

I choose to help my clients do better than this. But that wasn't my real work on Monday. My work was to treat AT&T as it really is - unimportant.

And I mean that in the kindest way.

The company is an artifact. It was designed with historical standards to meet ancient perceived needs. AT&T is NOT a person. It's NOT alive. It cannot frustrate me. Only I can frustrate me.

I always ask my team to talk about what we will do, not what we can't do. I hold myself to the same standard. So my work is to focus on moving forward and not to deal with AT&T at all.

It starts with a deep mental breath. When one of the techs calls to say that he is lost and needs directions, and we both discover that he is the wrong tech for this problem and agree that he can't fix it, and then he ignores me, I get to take a very deep mental breath. There is absolutely no point in pushing my own buttons over this.

This isn't about AT&T. It is about any time I feel in the control of another company. It happens all the time with each of us as business owners or managers. We're in communities that have dozens of members who seem to want to have some form of control over us. They can be suppliers, competitors, customers, and partners. And they seem to be able to push our buttons. And then we do things that are unnatural for us.

What do I mean by unnatural? Giving the authority for our growth to another company is unnatural. Think about it. Most of the requests we get from companies are about solving an immediate need instead of supporting long-term progress. And every time we give authority to another person or company, we stunt our own progress.

On the other hand, what is natural? Guiding our own growth. And then exercising our own strengths to make them stronger.

Taking even 20 minutes of my day to get unhappy with AT&T is really about a wider question:
Am I giving my authority to a corporation?

In other words:
Am I performing an unnatural act?

When I look at what really is natural, I can think and feel my conviction of why I am here. I am here to grow, and help others do the same if they wish. I am here to consciously enjoy the fullness of what I am capable of doing.

My business is designed clearly and specifically to support growth for my clients, my team, and me. When I take that deep mental breath, I can enjoy that growth. And when I do, AT&T's problems evaporate just like mist in the sun.

What is the basic principle here? It's that I am governor of my fate. Not that I control AT&T, but that I control how I act around my sense of the company. The natural position is that my business uses them as my tool, but my business not dependent on them.

I work with lots of other businesses, but they do not govern what I do. They do not have lives of their own. I am the governor of my own business. When I take that position, I am stronger and my business reflects that in the top and bottom lines. My business and I grow naturally no matter what AT&T and other corporations do or don't do.




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