I have a confession to make. Okay, maybe a couple. First, although the picture to the left is a striking resemblance – it isn’t me. Second, I am guilty of being one of those people who acts like the proverbial ostrich by burying my head in the sand when things start to go out of control.
My wife put up a sign in our master bathroom that says “Life is not about learning to weather the storms, but about learning to dance in the rain!” Every time that I see it I think to myself, “I can’t dance – I have no rhythm.” It seems that for some people it just comes naturally to face trying times head on and see the opportunities in times of trouble; however, for the rest of us it is something we have to learn to do.
Not Given a Spirit of Fear
It’s certainly easy as a small business entrepreneur to be overcome with all of the responsibilities that we shoulder on a day-to-day basis. Add to that the uncertainties of the harsh economic climate we face, and it is no wonder that so many of us just want to bury our heads in the sand and wait it out.
As a Christian, I am often comforted by something Paul wrote to Timothy …
I wonder how many small businesses have met their demise because of fear? Fear to start a business, fear to expand, fear to take a risk, fear that we are not adequate enough, and on and on. You must learn to get over your fears!
Burying Your Head Exposes Your Assets
Okay, so there’s a little play on words with this heading; however, when we bury our heads in the sand we expose our small business to avoidable threats. It reminds me of another story from the Bible where Joshua is building his army (or rather disassembling it).
God tells Joshua to send home anyone who was fearful and afraid, and 22,000 of the 32,000 packed up their gear and went home. God wasn’t finished whittling away at Joshua’s army though. He had only just begun.
5So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. (Judges 7:5-7, King James Version)
Why was it so important how these men drank? Well, just like sticking your head in the sand, if you bend over and drink from the water directly you leave your back side completely exposed. Not to mention a rather nice target for an enemy bowman!
Those men who kept their heads and brought the water to their mouths with their hands were able to keep their eyes scanning the horizon for danger. This gave them ample opportunity to take evasive actions if a threat appeared.
Too often it is not the threats that entrepreneurs see coming that kill a small business, but rather those that they did not see coming while worrying about another.
What Do You Expect to Find Down There?
Speaking as someone who has a long history of burying my head in the sand, I can’t think of a single instance when this practice has helped my small business. I’m not really sure what I expect to find down there – it certainly isn’t the early bird’s worm.
Those 300 men who lapped the water by bringing it to their mouths with theirs hands could see the opportunities in addition to the danger. This handful of men were able to scare off the Midianite army by acting when everyone else was afraid.
Great entrepreneurs have this characteristic. They are the few that face troubling times head on while others only try to ride out the economic storm.
Apologies to the Ostrich
Finally, do we owe an apology to the Ostrich? It seems that ostriches do not actually burying their heads in the sand after all. It is a distinction that we as humans share alone – if only figuratively.
As entrepreneurs, we must face hard economic times head on scanning the horizon for opportunities to grow our small businesses. If nothing else, at least we can keep our exposure to a minimum.