Small business owners know all about that metaphorical business reptile — the ubiquitous alligator. They slither in from everywhere, continuously chomping holes in your business, tearing apart projects, taking a bite out of performance and eating away at momentum.

As the CEO of your business, if your enterprise is to survive, let alone flourish, you have to deal with each alligator that pops up. To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, your business’s sustainability and organizational effectiveness depends on the ability to keep your head when all around alligators are trying to take it off.

We know three things about these caustic crocodilians: 1) every small business has them; 2) they don’t go away on their own; 3) besides the operational intrusion, they take an emotional toll. And as good as we may get at dealing with the damage they can cause, we’re not usually as good at dealing with that emotional thing.

Best-selling author and friend, Marc Allen, introduced me to a way to minimize the emotional toll. When Marc has a difficult challenge, he has a word with himself as follows: “I will deal with this problem in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way.”

I like Marc’s best, but here’s one I learned from a mentor: “This is no hill for a climber — and I’m a climber.”

Clear your mind of other issues except the alligator at hand: negative cash flow, lost customer, etc. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat after Marc with emphasis on the key words: easy, relaxed, healthy, positive. I’m convinced that saying it out loud — the physicality of speaking and hearing the words — seems to improve focus and make them sink in better.

This affirmation is also a great way to just start the day and it fits right into a prayer.

To keep your head and at least stay even with the alligators you must do three things. This first two we’ve talked about in the past, and no one does it better than a small business owner: show up every day and practice proven operating fundamentals.

The third is that positive self-talk. It’s important for your spirit — you know, the force that drives your protoplasm around. You probably take good care of your body: healthy diet, exercise, all that. But you also have to nurture and feed your spirit, because business alligators love a malnourished one; it’s their favorite food and they’re voracious eaters.

A well-nourished spirit reduces the size of alligators, which contributes to success. A strong spirit is a confident spirit, and alligators hate the taste of confidence. So, before you go best-two-falls-out-of-three with the next alligator, remember what Marc taught us: easy, relaxed, healthy, positive.

Slay your alligators by showing up every day, practicing business fundamentals, and feeding your spirit with positive self-talk.

Write this on a rock …

Repeat after Marc: Easy . . . relaxed . . . healthy . . . positive.

Jim Blasingame is the author of the award-winning new book, “The 3rd Ingredient: The Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.” jimb@jbsba.com

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