“Denial is not a river in Egypt”
“Denial is a very human trait. Sometimes we’d rather not know. We like our delusions. Our favourite bird is the ostrich, head firmly in the sand. Denial may be comfortable, but it’s rarely smart (and it isn’t a river in Egypt)”
The above quote is from a marketing article by Michel Hogan, published in 2012. It really caught my attention and made me reflect on why too many businesses fail when they should not. As managers and business owners it is very comfortable and even re-assuring to deny the current circumstances are the result of our actions or inaction and place the blame elsewhere. This is not leadership but an abdication of our duties as a manager.
My business is about working with business owners and managers to improve the profitability and performance of their business. As a result I come across a large cross section of business owners, from the really ‘switched on’ who want and seek outside advice and assistance to those that are in total denial of their current situation. Over a year ago I met a business owner who after discussing his situation was advised that ‘everything was under control’ and no assistance was required. I was not able to really delve into the issues and I left the meeting thinking I was missing something. After some self-analysis I concluded that I did not manage the meeting well and ask the right questions. Less than a year later, the business went into administration with the loss of dozens of jobs. I subsequently found out that at the time of my visit the business was losing millions of dollars per year but as stated earlier I was assured ‘everything was under control’. In other words, the owner was in a state of denial and ultimately he lost his business.
Whether it was pride, ego or ineffectiveness that made this business owner not recognise their problems I do not know. It was probably easier to blame the economic conditions or customers than to look at yourself and say “Am I the problem?”
Perhaps, it was because the owner could not see the problem even though it was obvious. Unfortunately, we have all seen businesses fail because management is in a state of denial and fails to take the necessary action
As the quote above says ‘denial may be comfortable, but it’s rarely smart (and it’s not a river in Egypt)’. As business owners, managers or supervisors we have responsibilities not only to ourselves, but our employees and customers.
A very important part of these responsibilities includes ensuring we are fulfilling our roles to the best of our ability. This includes self-analysis, removing the emotions and determining where there are problems and opportunities and seeking ways to grow and improve.
Remember egos destroy businesses and careers.
There is kudos in recognising there is a problem. Look at the facts, be open to new ideas, seek advice, get out of your comfort zone and leave denial behind…………