Starting a business—or taking your company to the next level—requires, by definition, shaking up the comfortable state of normalcy. While this change can ultimately lead to good outcomes, you will make other people unhappy in the process—guaranteed.
Whether it’s your current boss, significant other, parents, clients, or even yourself, someone will respond negatively to the change, which may fill you with an enormous sense of guilt.
When left unchecked, this guilt can lead you to:
- Avoid making decisions
- Allow people to disregard your boundaries
- Overcompensate by giving much more than is appropriate
- Never really take the next step in your life and your business.
Fortunately, you can overcome the power of inappropriate guilt in your life through addressing and learning from the situations you encounter.
To help you through this necessary process, here’s a “Guiltless Question Cheat Sheet” complete with sample answers to these questions in two different scenarios. The first is a situation where you made a late delivery to a client, and the second is one where you chose to leave your current position to start a business:
- Did I actually do anything wrong in this situation that warrants an apology?
- If so, how should I apologize?
- Example: Tell my client: “I’m sorry that your order will be delivered after our agreed on time due to our recent upgrades. But I’m confident that you’ll really enjoy the new features available to you because of this improvement.”
- If not, why did this person respond in this way?
- Example: My boss responded negatively to my choice to leave because looking for a replacement causes him stress. However, as an employee, I haven’t done anything bad or wrong by choosing to resign.
- Is it my responsibility to do anything to remedy the situation?
- If so, what will I do now?
- Example: I am not obligated to do anything for my client. But I would like to give her a discount on her next order to show I’m sorry about the inconvenience and to build the relationship.
- If not, how can I explain why I am not going to do anything further?
- Example: I can communicate to my boss that I will do everything possible to ease the transition, but at this point, I have made up my mind about leaving.
- Can I do anything differently in the future to avoid this outcome?
- If so, what will I modify in the future?
- Example: When I know that we’re doing another upgrade, I will make sure that all customers receive delivery estimates that include extra time to account for upgrade-related delays.
- If not, how can I anticipate and prepare myself for this response in the future?
- Example: Before I have a similar discussion with someone who doesn’t want me to leave a position, I will practice what I will say in advance and tell myself that it’s not my fault if someone responds poorly.
By letting go of guilt, you can move forward with confidence and courage as an entrepreneur!
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder & CEO of Real Life E® Time Coaching & Training that empowers individuals to overcome guilt, frustration and overwhelm and accomplish more with peace and confidence.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.