The Hero and the Victim

Over the years I have observed an interesting situation in the world of small business entrepreneurship. I see it frequently in the blue collar service world, but I am sure it is equally applicable to any small business regardless of industry. It’s the owner who thinks of themselves as the hero, yet also loves to play the victim.

What do I mean by this exactly? It is all too common to encounter the owner who “has to do everything” or “if you want it done right, the owner has to do it” mentality. These owners love to play the hero, running around fixing every problem and always being the hub of every wheel in their businesses. These same owners are also the ones that love to complain incessantly that their staff don’t care, are lazy, stupid, incompetent, etc. You get the point. They just think their employees make their lives and businesses miserable.

Oh, to be both the hero and the victim.

The reality in nearly all of these cases is a failure of the owner to let go. To hire people smarter or better than them and let them do their jobs. To do the hard work of learning leadership and effective delegation. But they do not. Often the reason is EGO.

I can relate to this. Early on in my career as a manager and then a small business owner I loved to be the hero. It stoked my ego to know that I was all knowing, that they needed me. I was the “straw that stirred the drink” and I loved it. Until I didn’t.

My ego was the roadblock to success.

My business partner, Larry, suffered from a lack of trust and micromanaging the staff. He couldn’t get comfortable with letting them learn and make mistakes. He loved checking on everything. Until he didn’t.

His ego was the roadblock to success.

You see, the surest way to burnout, stress, anger, and certainly lack of growth in any company is the owner who cannot see that his/her ego is in the way of real progress. We love to play both the hero and the victim. We run around putting out fires all day and then complain about it at night. We have our ego stroked both ways, getting kudos for saving the day and sympathy with all we need to put up with in the name of being a business owner.

This is all foolishness. The can-do attitude that helps us get off the ground in the start-up phase hinders us as we take on staff and try to grow. Start-up phase should be 12-24 months, not 12-24 years. Yet, over and over, I meet exhausted entrepreneurs who cannot grow (or even enjoy their businesses) because they are in the way. They are not doing the work on themselves to make change. They are stuck in a rut.

I know what that’s like. I have been there, and I decided to seek help to fix the problem.

So how do you fix this problem? First, get help. Find a coach or mentor who will help guide you and make you uncomfortably aware of your shortcomings. Then, own it. Don’t fight the coach and do it your own way. Your own way of doing things has gotten to you to this place to start with. Reprogram yourself to change your thinking patterns. Last, but not least. Take 100% accountability that everything that you don’t like about your business is your fault. Once you can get there mentally, a whole new (better) world will open up for you.

Once you get to this point you will realize you don’t need to be the hero or the victim.

Eric Sprague
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Co-Host, Blue Collar Nation Podcast
Director of Education, supertechu.com