During the last thirty plus years of consulting, speaking, and being involved with many businesses in different industries there is always an unidentifiable “Hostage” situation present. The word hostage is usually not used when speaking about business in general. What I am referring to is not a situation where a person is in a terrorist environment either. No one is held at gunpoint. I would rather comment that it is an emotional position placed on a company or owner. The situation in most cases never becomes life threatening but, it does make life miserable for everyone involved. Most of them can be human 08 elements or they can be the results of a “home grown” environment created by the owner of a company.

As this chapter continues you will start to review all possible situations in your own personal life or your position as an owner or employee in a company. Many people live their entire life without understanding the full extent of how a “Hostage” situation can damage their existence and growth whether it is personal or business. This situation will take over your life. Hopefully after reading this short chapter you will recognize the possibilities of you having this extremely disturbing position in life. In fact, you may even learn that they are correctable and reversible.

The one thing you will get from this chapter is the eye opening experience of reading about a subject or situation you can now call by name, a “Hostage Situation”, and it haunts you every day. Another key message you will get from this chapter is the fact that you can do something about the problem. Recognizing the emotional strain it 09 places on you daily is an accomplishment. Let’s move forward with identifying some of these disturbing moments in our lives.

All “Hostage” situations that may exist in our lives would be impossible to write about. What I intend on doing in this chapter is to mention the most obvious conditions occurring in business and life in general. The comments are made without any intent to demeanor anyone. The order in which I bring the comments out is not necessarily the order of frequency nor is it a case of being more or less harmful to the success of a business. For the sake of pure comfort to you in this reading you may not have any of these conditions in your life if so, you are indeed blessed.

I will start by bringing out one of my least favorite conditions I have had to deal with in my professional career. A business owner being held hostage by having too many family members involved in the business. The daily emotional drama the owner faces each day sometimes reaches that point of insanity. We have all heard or read 10 about insanity; it is when you expect things or situations to get better without changing anything. Family ties are hard to change, alter all you can, choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. The more family involvement in a private held company the more complicated it can get. There are two sets of member groups, the “work-a-bees” and the “want-a-bees”.

The “work-a-bees” understand that discipline and accountability must exist in the company. They lead the way with structure and organization which is much needed in any company. Keeping everyone structured in the company including family members is difficult. Most “work-a-bees” have the necessary foresight to lead the company and keep everyone including family members focused. The difference between the groups is that “want-a-bees” generally don’t want any responsibility and don’t like being held accountable. They just “want-a-bee” there for their check.

Sometimes I tell the owners at meetings that the company is better off discounting their pay and letting them stay at home. Speaking of home, is this paragraph hitting home for some of you?

By now you are probably wondering how would someone go about fixing this dilemma? This is not easy to fix, but it can be done by taking a look at the company’s organizational chart or by designing one showing everyone in the company along with their titles. This process would create a discipline which would place a responsible person in charge of the task for that particular position. This process by design will create a discipline keeping all employees including family members accountable for their activities and the results from them. An owner should schedule regular meetings, this would allow the necessary actions be taken in dismissing the “want-a-bees” from the company’s “Hostage” situation if they are not performing, and it would give new direction and new energy for those “work-a-bees” wanting to move forward with the company.

To terminate a family member from a family owned business is not easy. Would it be easier to take the company down or even bankrupt it? The majority of the issues or problems come from the hiring of family members only because they are not pre-qualified before hiring. Family members feel that they are due the position because of who they are. Most occurrences happen in the second and third generation of family owned businesses. Before I get into describing this situation, when is the last time you looked at your organizational chart? Is there a job description for each member of the team, including family members?

When deciding which of the “Hostage” situations I would write about in this short chapter, I knew it bad to have my view of being in a situation where debt was holding you hostage. This could be business as well as personal. As long as the economy was moving along and money  was easier to make, some people never imagined that the debt in both business and personal could hold you “Hostage”. Each time a note is signed by a business for a piece of equipment / or a vehicle was leased, the situation got worse.

There is no easy way out of this situation, in my opinion the hardest “Hostage” situation to get out of in any case. You could just walk away and go bankrupt, however that is not the only answer. There are other options before someone should consider quitting. Downsizing by reengineering the operation according to the current income and profits of the company. The elimination of all unneeded equipment, employees, and locations can give the results that could save the company and eliminate the daily stress level. Debt is Dangerous, it just doesn’t go away, it is the true 24/7/365 statement in life. Sometimes not only your business is held 14 hostage; but your entire thinking process is preoccupied with this situation. You have a hard time functioning with debt constantly on your mind.

This particular emotional trauma does not have a pause button and it doesn’t have a “time out” call allowed. So before you decided to create another hostage situation in your life such as another business, another investment, more equipment, and the remodeling of your current facility, think about what you just read in this chapter. Being held “hostage” is worth thinking about…

We have so much to write about in this chapter, leaving out the addictive situations such as alcohol, drugs, expensive hobbies, and families who live above their current income, must be given notice. With regrets, I must say it is getting worse, the new economical adjustments are just not happening fast enough. Alcohol, drugs, and all the others mentioned will not take you out of a hostage situation, it will only keep you in turmoil. To get out of a hostage situation requires the same processes an addictive person must take. You must recognize that you are in 15 trouble before you can change anything. Sometimes debt is caused by the addictions mentioned in the above paragraphs.

We must always remember it’s our same beliefs that got us to sign off on the notes; and it’s the same energy we must use to work ourselves out of the position, it can be done. Just because the economy is not what it was, does not mean you are less of a person with less abilities and passion to succeed. Don’t be too proud to ask for help, let your team know your needs and they will respond. Keeping everyone in suspense is not the answer. Failure is not an option!

The word “Hostage” is cold and hard. Sometimes the cold hard facts about your business is that it is out of control. The hostage situation I am referencing here is don’t let your ego destroy you or your business. To admit you need help is okay and it’s okay to ask for help. You will be surprised at how much more respect you will get from your family and friends. You might be so stressed out that 16 you can’t see your way out. You would go to a doctor if you were sick. You would get and attorney if you needed legal advice. Get help if you are in a “Hostage” situation. Either get a consultant or business adviser, if it’s personal find help! Your situation calls for help from within yourself. Get help now so you don’t go without help another day.

I personally don’t like writing about “Hostage” situations, unfortunately I haven’t come up with solutions or a remedy for all of them. These situations can paralyze a person’s emotions and their outlook in business. We live in a great country. We must not allow anything negative to enter our mind, positive energy is what moves ideas and creates the momentum needed when we are working out of a hostage situation. I hope this chapter helped you to understand yourself and your direction better. The more you think about where you want to go and where you want to be in life, the closer you will get to the destination.

Be Careful What You Ask For

An old man lived alone in Idaho. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son, Bubba, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament.

Dear Bubba: I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my potato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me. Love, Dad

A few days later, he received a letter from his son.

Dear Dad: For heaven’s sake, Dad, don’t dig up that garden. That’s where I buried the BODIES. Love, Bubba

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local Police showed up and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day, the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Dad: Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. It’s the best I could do under the circumstances. Love, Bubba

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