How healthy is your Worry Factor?

September 26, 2011Post by Laura Humphreys

I remember a conversation I had with my friend Melissa Clark Reynolds many years ago.  She probably won’t even remember it.  We were standing in the changing room of the local swimming pool centre at the time.  Melissa had just sold her first business to Southern Cross and I was still mid way into the building of my advertising agency, a long time before I became a business mentor.  I turned off my hair dryer long enough to have a quick chat.  For some reason the subject of ‘worry’ came up.  Perhaps I was particularly worried about something at that time and asked her advice.  Melissa’s words then have stuck with me ever since.  She told me that she believed worry was an important trait of successful business people.  She said its good to be a bit of a worrier.  That the things that keep you awake at night, going over and over in your head, are the same things that cause you to take action the next day.  If you are smart business person and you are worrying about something bad that could happen in the future, you can take action right away to stop it happening.  It was a good way to look at worry for me.  As a natural born worrier, it gave me permission to be myself and use it to my advantage.

There are some positives about the Worry Factor. Worrying is a business persons safety belt.  We wear it to guard against potential dangers that might never happen.  Then as the drivers of our business, we learn to take evasive action to minimise the chances of crashing.  Without a bit of healthy worry, we might sleep through the impending disaster just around the corner.

Of course the emphasis here has to go on the word ‘healthy’.

It is good to worry a bit, to foresee potential problems and take action to avoid them.  It is not good to worry excessively.  I learnt this the hard way in the early days of my first business (a friend used to refer to my ‘purple people eaters’ – the imaginary disasters I could see looming from the tiniest mistake).

It is not good to worry about things you have already done, or failed to do.  You can’t turn back the clock.   Worrying about something you said that you now regret won’t take it back.  But a commitment to apologise or make an offer to make up for it… that’s something you can do tomorrow.

So here’s my worrying tips for wealthy entrepreneurs:

1.  If you see a potential problem coming up in the future, it is good to worry about it, just enough to inspire action

2. But don’t lose sleep over it.  Keep a notebook by your bed, write down the action you are going to take tomorrow then go to sleep

3. Never worry about something that has already happened.  If there is something you can do to make it better, write it down in your notebook for tomorrow’s actions.  If there is nothing you can do about it, let it go. Then go to sleep.

4. If you are not worried about anything in your business, you might be missing something.  Try to be a visionary.  Think ahead and have a little, healthy dose of worry to make you take action.

5. Sleep is also the business owners’ best friend.  It can be a bit illusive at times if you worry too much.  The way to measure how healthy your Worry Factor is simply by your sleep.  If you can’t sleep from worrying, you are worrying too much.

So how healthy is your Worry Factor?