The only thing we truly have choices about and control of is our reactions (to people, events). While it is often challenging or nearly impossible to “be reasonable” in our reactions to things that happen and things people do, channeling the energy we lose to things beyond our control into positive actions can propel our personal, professional, and business results to a new level.

If you have ever had a business associate (co-owner, key employee) leave at a critical point in your business without fulfilling financial and other obligations, you have experienced the gamut of emotions and reactions that come from those types of situations. If you are lucky (relatively), they sit across the table from you and inform you they aren’t going to carry through on their part of the business. If you are unlucky, they tell you they are going to wrap up a few things so you can continue to run the business – and then they don’t. If you are even more unlucky, then they leave you to find out that they have left you holding the bag (and sometimes the bag is empty!).

If you are fortunate and able to salvage the business, then you will have issues – business, professional, personal, emotional, and financial. If you aren’t able to salvage the business, the issues will differ in magnitude and scope. The issues which come from having to close a business down and deal with the financial obligations that were left behind often include tax liability, bankruptcy, and more.

Who is left “holding the bag” is often different from who legally leaves the business. When a business “partner” says “I’m stopping working on this business”, then they have “left” the business (and you) holding the bag. That bag contains all kinds of things, especially your emotions and reactions, which are as much personal as business.

Because the ramifications are also personal and business, developing the ability to compartmentalize the two is to your advantage. Use the emotional reactions to drive your energy for dealing with the issues. Channeling your emotions into taking the steps necessary to turn the situation around enables you literally to work through the “issues”.

On the other hand, if your “partner” has left you with no realistic option for continuing the business, then look to minimize the impact. Even if that means you are legally the one who walks away from the business while still infusing the capital to settle the business’ debts. Don’t walk away without sound legal and financial advice. It is worth the investment in legal fees to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s of exiting the business.

Now you would think that once the business is “dead” – legally and financially – that your reactions will be history too. That isn’t necessarily true, because you may see this person who “betrayed” your trust going on to mislead, misrepresent, and generally stay in your environment (and your face!). You may cross paths at business events or social occasions. Keep you head up, your chin out, and a smile on your face! Conduct yourself with discretion and valor!

You can’t control how others behave or cause them to “live up to” your standards and expectations. The only thing you can control is your own action and reactions. Keep in mind the old saying “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time …” or something like that. In situations where you “know” the story and reality below the surface, you just have to conduct yourself “above the fray” and well, you just have to laugh.

The ability to laugh means that you aren’t allowing them to influence and control you through emotions. It also means you are recognizing it doesn’t really matter any more – the person and the experience are behind you. You can focus your energy and efforts on your own success. Remember this: ultimately those who can’t do are revealed. You may never know it and it really doesn’t matters. You are laughing, and that is the best reaction and medicine.

Copyright ©2006 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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