My Most Embarrassing Post: Playing “Fireman and Babysitter”

FIREMAN AND BABYSITTER, Really?!?!

First, welcome to my most embarrassing post. 

I am terribly humiliated to even share this article. 

As the story goes, 100 years ago (well not quite that long ago but it sure feels like it), I used to describe managing my business with the following description: I was a “fireman and a babysitter.” 

Actually, it was the 1990’s and I was in my early 20’s. 

My description of entrepreneurship? “Every day I was putting out fires and babysitting my employees”.

Yes, I actually said that. URGH! 

Well, guess what? I was hugely successful. At what?

Putting out all of the fires that I was creating for myself every day as well as micromanaging an amazing group of people.

I am horrified at my immaturity and arrogance that I even expressed those words, “fireman and babysitting”.

It is a true embarrassment that my management style was based on putting our fires and babysitting.

Let’s interpret what this really meant.

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A Fireman? Seriously? 

Declaring myself a fireman is completely insulting and offensive to all firefighting professionals who are more courageous than I could begin to imagine.

My interpretation: 

Fireman = I have no idea what I am doing, am completely overwhelmed, cannot think past today to begin to plot out a future strategy. Let alone figure out how we are going to resolve the current firestorm in our midst.

For example:

  • Cover payroll on Thursday (and it is Tuesday night)? Who knows?
  • Dealing with customers past due by 90 days?
  • Handle an angry customer who just received the wrong product and needs it corrected NOW?
  • Handle employee issues that most likely lacked necessary training or probably should not have been hired to begin with?

Sweating the small stuff prevented facing bigger challenges. 

Especially when I was busy putting out fires that I typically created on my own. 

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A Babysitter? Seriously?

Babysitter

Calling myself a babysitter not only insults the employees that I had the privilege of working with but also insults the millions of incredibly skilled babysitters around the country. They are also much more courageous than I could ever be.

Babysitter = I am completely insecure with myself combined with an unjustified arrogance that I need to micromanage every move of my employees.

Yet, so focused on being a HELICOPTER BOSS that I fail to allow these amazing individuals to do their jobs properly and let them do what they do best (also what they were hired to do). Combined with the fact that I was doing my own job horribly as well.

“Babysitting my employees.”

If you find yourself saying these words, it may be time to take a look in the mirror and reevaluate your approach.  

When I finally realized how immature and unprofessional my thoughts and behavior were it was finally time to get down to business.

No boss, parent, teacher, coach or instructor is perfect.

Even the most winningest coach (Ex: Bill Belichick or Nick Saban) has plenty of critics. Including their own players.

Just lose one game and find out quickly that not everyone will love you, admire you or even respect you.

As a coach or boss, every move you make is scrutinized.

You will always be called too much of something. 

Some will think you are too nice, too mean, too lenient, too calm, or too frantic. Not enough passion. Too passionate.

The goal is to build a healthy balance.

Maintaining a strong sense of urgency while never showing panic. Minimizing or even eliminating chaos.

Related Article: When a Mistake Occurs at Your Business, “It’s Never the Employee”

Herding Cats

Babysitter

Seems like the same could be said when people use the expression “herding cats”.

If a person describes managing people like herding cats, doesn’t it simply mean that this particular person has serious challenges with leadership or people skills?

Do you ever hear successful coaches describe leading their players as “herding cats”?

Well, I am ashamed and it was truly pathetic that I lead thinking these individuals needed “babysitting”.

No wonder I constantly struggled to make ends meet.

Helping employees to succeed and thrive should have been my primary focus. 

Additionally, I should have dedicated myself to creating a cause that they could proudly stand behind.

There is a fantastic book called “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen.

The line in the book goes, “As a man thinketh, so shall he be.”

Well as I declared myself a “fireman and babysitter,” so shall I was.

Very impressive, right? Absolutely not! 

As I called myself a “fireman” and “babysitter”, that is exactly what I became.

I am sure you have some choice words to describe my poor business acumen and lack of leadership skills.

Related Article: The Definition of Entrepreneurtude: “Do Whatever It Takes”

Entrepreneurial Crisis

Phil Knight says that for entrepreneurs, “every day is a crisis.”

So the crises are going to happen. It is not a matter of if they will happen, just when and what magnitude. 

Therefore, since the fires ARE going to happen, every day, how you handle them is the key to success.

It doesn’t matter if you run a sole proprietorship or a multimillion-dollar company.

It is all relative. If you prepare and become proactive, great things occur. 

Welcome the mindset that these are not fires.

Each event is not a crisis but simply opportunities to grow. Learn. Expand your business.

Furthermore, the chance to separate you from the competition when challenges occur.

Gratitude

As a boss or leader, consume yourself in gratitude.

Give thanks for this amazing opportunity. For your entrepreneurial venture as well as the privilege to lead others. 

Embrace challenges as blessings to learn and grow. 

A mentor of mine used to share this fantastic quote: “The person who wins a marathon may not be the fastest runner but the person who can endure the most pain.

Your business is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, how do you endure the pain of the race? 

Can you prevent fires?

Strategically position the proper smoke alarms and fire extinguishers so when the smoke starts, you eagerly and tactically put out the burning flames as quickly as possible.

How do you put out a fire? Preparation, teamwork, a calm reserve, and a steady hand. 

Related Article: No Goal + No Direction = Where on Earth are We Going?

Babysitter? There Must Be a Better Way

Babysitter

So, what is a better description of entrepreneurship as opposed to declaring myself a “fireman” and “babysitter”?

Instead of a fireman, what if I declared entrepreneurship as a gift to create an organization that provides incredible products and services? Furthermore, offering powerful solutions that improve our customer’s ability to compete. 

What if I stated that instead of putting out fires we work on strategies that anticipate the challenges our customers face on a daily basis to make THEIR lives less stressful?

Instead of a babysitter, what if I declared my experience of entrepreneurship as being blessed to work with amazing and talented individuals? Where we strived to challenge each other to be the best.

Another thought: “As a team, we dedicate ourselves to building a sustainable business model that offers an entrepreneurial and competitive spirit.”

In spite of my “fireman and babysitter” mentality, our company experienced wonderful growth and success thanks to being blessed with an incredibly talented team. 

As the business owner, you are the boss by default.

The person who cuts the checks typically makes the rules.

Oversees the hiring (and firing) as well as make difficult decisions.

You provide employees with money, however, they grace you with their time. 

Money and jobs can be replaced. Time cannot. 

My humble suggestion: dedicate yourself to the success of each individual who decides to join your team. 

Inspire. Build their confidence. Make them feel on top of the world. Unstoppable.

Explore, discuss and fully understand their goals, their dreams, aligning yourselves on the path to achieving great heights.

Trust me, magic happens. 

Wrapping It Up 

Thanks for reading this post. 

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