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Are You the Problem or the Solution?

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Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending a conference in Washington, D.C. for the 10KSB (10,000 Small Businesses) Summit alumni. With 3000+ in attendance and another 2000+ watching online, the conference centered on ideas and strategies to help support the growth objectives of the nation’s small businesses.

Sponsored by Goldman Sachs, the conference featured an outstanding speaker lineup that included industry titans Buffett, Branson and Bloomberg, as well as a handful of influential politicians like Rubio, Coons and McCarthy.

Though most of the talks included noteworthy stories of triumph and lessons learned, one of the speakers caught me off guard when he said (and I’m paraphrasing): If there’s a problem in the company, it is you!

What? How can I be the problem? It’s just the opposite: as business owners, we do everything we can to solve problems—we don’t create them.

As the speaker continued with his discussion, he said something that I could really sink my teeth into: “The solution is in the mirror.” Though my initial knee-jerk reaction was one of disagreement and dismay, it was his follow-up that brought the concept home for me.

I am also the solution. 

Maybe he was referring to the mental blocks we all tend to put up—or maybe it’s the fears we carry around. Or maybe it’s both! In either case, I realized, we can be the problem, and we most certainly are also the solution.

We are all leaders. Some of us managers, some of us executives, some of us entrepreneurs, some of us individual contributors—but we are all leaders of something. And as leaders, we are empowered to make the decisions that may impact the top and bottom line. We are also empowered to make the decisions that impact the lives of others. It’s on us. It is our responsibility to solve the problem—even if the problem began with the person in the mirror.

This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help—we most certainly can. I do all the time. But at the end of the day, the ultimate decision is ours.

“The buck stops here. – Harry S. Truman

Have a great weekend.