The Unoffendable Entrepreneur

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People are idiots. Not you or me. But “them.” I am surrounded by morons. I can’t take it anymore. Since I had a child, I drive a bit slower. I take right turns slower. I stop well before yellow lights. I’m just being safe ya’ know? And people honk at me.

Idiots.

Now, admittedly when I have somewhere to be and the person in front of me doesn’t turn on red, I honk sometimes. You can turn on red here. And when they make a slow right without the blinker, I sometimes cuss. It’s irritating and dangerous. And when we both could have made it through the yellow light but they stop short I have been known to smack the steering wheel.

I am surrounded by idiots.

Why are “they” the idiots? Because THEY do stupid things. And “them” is always “them” and I am always me. And I got my sh*t together. That’s why.

For those of you nodding your head in agreement, I hope you can tell by now that I am being facetious. Reality is that we have all done things to offend other people. We all mess up in every aspect of our lives. On the road; in business; in our families; we all fall short. But when we mess up we often make ourselves the victim. When they mess up, we are also the victim. We rarely think of ourselves as the idiot. We are amazing at martyrdom are we not? We always agree with our own opinion because its way better than “theirs.”

The fact of the matter is that we are a culture of offense. We love it. We are not happy unless we are pissed off about something. We live triggered. Perpetually offended. It’s offense porn and we are addicted.

We believe we have some God given right to be offended. (Luke 6:28-36 begs to differ.)

So where Does Offense Come from?

Media and society may fuel the flame but the fire of offense generally comes from a few places.

The first is fear. We are afraid that someone else is going to take our spot, our credit, our clients. It is why we lash out at other hair professionals for doing similar things as us. It is why we have to undercut their work or why we don’t refer clients to people who are the best suited to cut them in our absence. It’s why people often shun collaboration. It’s the fear of becoming irrelevant.

Another is expectation. We have certain values that we think are inherently right. We also have metrics that measure those values. When someone challenges or commits a transgression against those values we take offense. For instance, if you don’t want to go to a first birthday party for your cousin’s kid, you may just decide not to go. No malice, no alterior motive, just not feelin it. But your cousin may take offense because you are family and family show’s up when invited. Her value is that family is supposed to show up for each other and she measures it by you showing up to events. If you don’t show, you are not being a good family member. Offense.

What about voting? All of a sudden if you don’t vote, you are a pariah. Where’s your “I voted” sticker bro? People feel like voting is a universal duty and if you don’t do it, you have failed to meet that duty. More offense.

Another is Ego. If our ego is tested, we cannot let that go unaddressed. It often comes from insecurity, but can also stem from arrogance. We feel like we are always being picked on, or we feel that we are owed an apology. Once we feel threatened, we defend our position to the end, even if we know it hurts us in the long run. A Yale study showed that political bias on either side affected people’s ability to get the correct answer on math problems that seemed to attack their political position. These were intelligent people and mathematicians who would rather be wrong about something with an absolute right answer than compromise a political ideal.  In order to excel in our business we have to drop the ego. As Ryan Holiday notes in Ego is The Enemy, “an amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable.”

Why Should we live unoffended?

Offense is a thief. It robs you of your time, your opportunity, your health. It’s hard to stay happy when you are easily offended. Think about it. How does your body react physically when someone cuts you off, or is a no-show to an appointment? It tenses up. Your breath changes. Some senses are heightened and some shut down. Your neck and shoulders feel tight and heavy. Your stomach is in knots. Its fight or flight except you are not being chased by a hyena.

It also robs you mentally. Sometimes this lasts for hours. The other day someone honked at me when they were clearly wrong. It bugged me for an hour. I wanted to beat the crap out of her tweenage son for rolling down the window. Like bruh, you are 13 and from Great Neck. I am saved but not all the way, Amen? And because I told the story multiple times (in hair you have the same convo 19 times a day) I re-lived a bit of that offense over and over. It stole from me.

You don’t have to believe in God to live unoffendable. Just the damage it can do to your business is reason enough to live untriggered. Think about when you are offended on the job. Do you give your work your undivided attention? Are you completely focused on your next client? Or are you thinking about what you should have said and how to exact revenge? I know that when I am offended by a client, I am a bit less amicable to my next guest. There are days I want to shut down the business I love. And when my wife makes me angry, my daughter gets less of my undivided attention. Its natural. But it robs you of joy (and your livelihood). How many people have left jobs or salons because they couldn’t work with their co-workers?

If time flies, why do we insist on spending it offended, at odds with our fellow man, and sick to our stomachs? Mainly because it is our default. It takes an active will to get past offenses buy You CAN choose to live differently. Be counter-cultural. Unoffendable.

Happy even.