Who’s running your business: Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?


My husband, Joseph, is a confirmed movie fanatic. While we have a fairly enormous collection of DVD’s, he’s always sampling new ones from the library, and I never know what will show up next.

Focus is vital for success.Recently he brought home a film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you’re not familiar with the story line, here’s the incredibly condensed version: Dr. Jekyll is convinced that within every person are powerful yet opposing forces of good and evil. He develops a serum that allows the evil side to completely take over, and he decides to test the serum himself. (Seriously, Dr. Jekyll?) The result is the evil Mr. Hyde, who goes rampaging around London for a while before being killed.

The story got me thinking: Do we ever let our own Dr. Hyde loose when making business decisions?

Think about it: There are a lot of opportunities to do things that, while not evil, are perhaps not at the highest level of integrity. You reply very late to an inquiry; you give one person a discount for no good reason but charge another full price; you ignore a commitment to have a piece of work done by a certain time….The potential list is virtually endless.

Even though such actions may be attributed to a kinder, gentler version of Mr. Hyde, they’re still not ultimately in anyone’s best interests – including yours.

So why do we sometimes get sucked into less-than-helpful behaviors? There are any number of possible reasons:

The question then becomes, “How do you ensure that it’s the noble Dr. Jekyll running your business, and not the evil Mr. Hyde?” Here are some ways you can manage who’s who.


Self-awareness and courage precede success.


Hone your awareness of your daily activity flow.

If your days are typically productive, effective, and energizing, it’s a pretty sure thing that your “good” side is driving the bus. On the other hand, if your days are characterized by start-and-stop work, activity that has no strategic value to your long-term business viability, or outright ignoring of work tasks that need to be done…say hello to Mr. Hyde.

Identify areas in which your results are disappointing.

Is nobody interested in connecting with you on LinkedIn? Is your Facebook page generating exactly zero engagement? Are your speaking proposals being rejected everywhere you turn?

Any or all of these outcomes can provide clues that your uncommitted/fearful/indecisive side is sabotaging you.

Do a 180.

This is one of my favorite exercises for figuring out what to do next (which is always a challenge for us creative entrepreneurs). It’s simple – although not necessarily easy or fast – and so worth while.

Once you’ve increased your self-awareness and acknowledged where your performance is falling short, you can start to identify ways in which you can shift your behavior a full 180 degrees to start doing the opposite of what has not been working. For example:

A few months ago I submitted a proposal to speak at a conference. Since I’d already presented at an earlier conference put on by the same organization, you would have thought I would have no trouble being accepted again (or at least that’s what I thought). It was only when I found out I was not selected as a speaker that I stepped back and tried to figure out why my proposal for such a rock-star topic fell flat. I concluded there were two main ways I had sabotaged my success:

Lesson learned. The next time I want to toss my hat into the ring, I’ll keep focused on my desired outcome and be sure that I’m active in the online community. (The high-value content I’ll come up with is something I take as given.)

Practice being brave.

This is a particularly good time to remember that even baby steps are WAY more valuable than staying frozen in fear.

I find I often hit myself with a one-two punch, courtesy of two different but related habits of thought. The first mental trap is “But what if I miss out on something?” This is often exacerbated by the “But I don’t know what to DO with this information!” trap, or its close relative, the “But I don’t wanna do all that work!” trap.

Here’s how this idiot thinking plays out if I don’t ride close herd on myself: I find myself with a dozen different windows open simultaneously on my laptop, none of which I’m actually addressing, and all of which are sucking away my energy by remaining open but ignored.

When I realize this is what I’m doing, I get to challenge myself with a question: Does this potential new resource directly and effectively impact one of my consciously chosen goals?

If the answer is “no,” I get to shut down the window, because “out of sight, out of mind” is beneficial in this case. If, on the other hand, the answer is “yes,” I get to schedule time in my planner to come back to this bookmarked page and figure out how to apply it to my particular needs.  For me, this is a great setting in which to practice being courageous by either letting go of something or actively and promptly addressing it.

While this particular example may be something you just can’t relate to, I have no doubt that there are any number of other situations facing you that nudge your inner chicken: going to a live networking event, posting an article on LinkedIn, speaking to a large group, trying sushi…The nature of the scary situation matters less than what you do about it. The more you can practice doing little things despite the fear, the more willing and prepared you’ll be to tackle the bigger, scarier projects with higher payoffs.


What about you? Do you find your inner Mr. Hyde sometimes gets in the way of your Are you sabotaging your success?success? If so, how do you banish him so you can go back to enjoying results that make your heart happy?

Or are you so busy doing stuff that you have no clue what’s working for you and what’s not, much less why that may be happening? If that’s the case, I have some tools that can help.

One type of client I specialize in helping are those entrepreneurs who are running so fast that they don’t take time to be strategic in their activities. I show them how to slow down enough to be calm, purposeful, and effective in building their businesses.

I know I have the tools to help with that busy-but-not-productive hamster wheel.  What I don’t know is if you and I would be a good fit for each other…but I’m certainly curious about it.

If your curiosity is aroused, too, there’s a way we can satisfy ourselves with no risk to either one of us: a get-acquainted call. By asking and answering some questions, both of us will confidently reach a decision about working together, whether that decision is “right now” or “later” or “never.”

If that sounds worth some time, you can arrange that call by contacting me at 319-270-1214 or by emailing me with “It’s time to get the Hyde outta here!” in the subject line. We’ll set up our call and see what’s what.

(Thanks to Charles D P Miller for posting his Jekyll-and-Hyde images in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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