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In this blog, you’ll read about a formative experience, that taught me about watching your boundaries. We all have these experiences and they often have more influence than we realise. Even affecting our business.

2-up-2-down

When I was a small girl, I used to visit my grandparents in a 2-up, 2-down. It was a small house with no carpets, an outside toilet, coal fires and recurring kittens.

One time I went to visit with my Dad (or Daddy at that time). He went down the garden to talk to his father and I sat on the kitchen step watching them. Then my Granny asked me if I’d like some kitkat.

The question

What I need to explain here is that my Granny wasn’t quite right. Later I’d hear that she had schizophrenia, but as a small child I just knew she was different. So, when she asked me if I’d like some kitkat, I assumed she meant kitecat.

Just in case you don’t know the difference:

  • Kitkat, chocolate, good
  • Kitecat, cat food, not so good

So far away

There I was terrified that Granny was going to give me cat food. Given she was a bit different, this seemed entirely possible. The week before she’d even given me prunes, so this was just another step along that road.

The garden had never looked longer or my Daddy further out of reach than now. And the worst thing was, I knew that I was going to have to eat it and say thank you too.

Politeness above all

Politeness was very important in our house, and you always did what adults told you to do. No questions, no talking back. And always, always with gratitude and politeness.

So, when Granny asked me if I’d like some cat food, I said “Yes, please”. I also knew that for her, giving me cat food was her way of expressing love. But inside, my stomach was churning at the idea of the cat bowl heading my way and hoping it wouldn’t taste too terrible.

6-year-old relief

Can you imagine my 6-year old relief when she gave me chocolate instead?

Looking back, I remember the powerlessness of that 6-year old, trapped in social structures and unable to ask what someone was giving me or to say no. I wasn’t allowed to put my own boundaries in place, adults decided on them for me. And being a ‘good girl’, I stuck to them.

Early habits stick

The habits we learn as small children stay with us into adulthood. They colour the way we behave even now.

Except now we can change things. We don’t have to eat the cat food. We can say that we don’t like something. Or that we’d prefer Whiskas.

Watching your boundaries in business

So, what does this have to do with your business, I hear you asking (excellent question by the way). Well, business is all about knowing and managing yourself and others.

  • If you don’t know yourself well, quite frankly you’ll be a terrible manager.
  • If you can’t manage yourself, your business is likely to be chaotic and stressful.
  • And if you can’t manage others, you’ll feel like your business has been created in a special ring of Hell designed to torment you.

And if you can’t say No to someone else, it’s going to be much more difficult to get a Yes. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

Your epic business

And that’s not what an epic business is all about. An epic business starts and ends with you, making sure your extraordinariness is displayed to the world and supported by you and by your team (extraordinariness is the E in EPIC).

And that starts with watching your boundaries. That’s why there’s a strictly no-cat-food-rule in your epic business.

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