For as long as I remember I’ve always had to complete what I started mentality. You can partly blame my parents for instilling such values. I can blame the rest on myself for pushing myself even further. But really is that such a bad thing? I don’t give up no matter what. It is my integrity.

Unfortunately my never give up attitude gets the best of me and my time way too often. If I take on a project I have a hard time not seeing it through to the end. I will usually finish it no matter what. If that means spending an unreasonable amount of time on it to complete the project. Then I will.

As I’ve grown as a professional I’ve come to realize (with the help of a few mentors) this never give up attitude is actually very dangerous if not kept in check. It actually has held my business back. Since I can’t let go of projects I end of spending my time and resources doing work some one with a lower skill set could do. Leaving the high skilled work that I am best at not done or it eats into my personal time. I also can’t let go of projects due to emotional attachment. Even if the project won’t help my business or bring me any money.

To most people, letting go means giving up. I use to think the same way, it wasn’t until I shifted my thought process from self-employed to business owner, that that changed. I realized that I could pay some one to do the work, still over see/manage the work, be able to do more important things, like work on my business, and still make money.

This shift hasn’t been easy for me. Nor is it easy for a lot of other business owners. Long ago I use to work for a company that the owner had to have his hand in every thing that went on in the business. That was fine when the business was small but as it grew the bottleneck became the owner. Projects usually grounded to a halt because of him. Little was done and the business started to become stale. This was happening to my business too.

The problem became clear, the owner had a lack of trust in his employees. I had a lack of trust in any one else to do any of my projects.

To move forward with my business, to move from self-employed to business owner I had to find some one I trusted or could trust. Once I found that person, there was a turning point in my business. My business is able to do more. I can pass off the low level work to my apprentice, now I have time to focus on more important things, like improving my business and getting more business.

But this doesn’t help the second type of letting go. Letting go of projects that are meant to help my business but at this point don’t get me any closer to my goals. Trust in my apprentice won’t help get the project done. In fact having him help me is very bad. The only reason I want to finish the project is because I’ve become emotionally invested in these projects.

But cutting the emotional cord is difficult. I’ve invested so much time into the project that I don’t want to give it up. It wasn’t till I started to evaluate each project to see if it align with my goals did I realize that spending any more time on a project that doesn’t help me is actually hurting my business.

It doesn’t mean I have to throw away the project. It just means I need to either shift the focus of the project to some thing that will align with my goals, stop the project until it does align with my goals, or break up the project and take the pieces that will help me.

The next time your business starts a project ask yourself questions like this:

  • If this project is to help my business, will this help me achieve my goals or am I just working on this project because of emotional investment?
  • Can I pass this project off to an employee and still achieve the same results? (make sure you define what results you are looking for)
  • If I don’t trust an employee to do this project. Why don’t I trust them? What can I do to trust them? Will some training help?

At the end of the day trust is earned in both yourself and your employees. If you can’t trust yourself to let go of projects or stop working on projects, how can your business grow?