I was onboarding a new client, she was telling me about some challenges she faced running her branding firm when she said,
“I don’t do numbers.”
“Excuse me? What was that?” I asked.
“I don’t do numbers. I’m more of an art person; math, and numbers aren’t my thing.”
“I see. You don’t do any math? You don’t look at any numbers?” My voice took on a concerned tone.
“No, I’ve got a good instinct for my business. I know the right amount that people will pay for a project, and when there’s more money in the bank at the end of the month than the beginning then we’re all good.”
Ah, so there were “numbers” in her life.
What’s that about?
Her “I don’t do numbers” statement was a defense mechanism that freed her from the need to think too deeply about the numbers. Saying “I don’t do numbers” meant that she didn’t have to be constrained by a spreadsheet, she didn’t need to spend time working on “profitability.” Her instinct would get her there (and it had so far).
Her aversion to numbers is a crutch.
It props her up. It makes her feel more comfortable about ignoring a point of weakness in her leadership.
There’s a difference between knowing you have a weakness and finding someone to help you with it, and flat out denying that “numbers” are something you need to care about!
If you don’t want to be in charge of them, fine, find someone who will be! But don’t pretend they aren’t necessary!
What is your crutch?
What do you profess, or believe about yourself, or your business, that protects you from asking the hard questions you need to answer to keep your business moving forward?
Are you fond of saying:
- “I’m not a planner.”
- “I’m not good at sales.”
- “People Management is not my thing.”
- “I’ve never done outreach to build my business.”
- “I’m not a details guy.”
The next 6 – 12 months of business leadership is going to test those “assumptions.” We’re in for a rough ride, with no shortage of tough decisions, and difficult moments.
I expect it to be like running a marathon — an actual marathon. There’s no room for carrying extra baggage with you when you are running a marathon.
Lose your crutches.