Have you been getting complaint calls about an employee…and you know exactly who they’re talking about before they mention his name? Does your eye begin to twitch every time your office door creeks…and it’s the same guy, every day, standing there with a question you thought you’d answered already? Has the quality of your life and your business diminished because you don’t do what must be done— because you believe retaining this employee is a necessary evil?

If so, then you need to stop and take a trip back to when you first started your business.

Starting a towing business is a lot like planting a garden. If you’re going to come away with anything of value, you need to have a plan.

With a garden, you need to choose the right site with proper amounts of sun and drainage. You need to decide how many rows and what kind of vegetables you want to grow. You must properly prepare the soil and know how deep and when to plant each seed or seedling. And you’ll want a way to efficiently remove the weeds, keep the garden watered, and deter insects and other pests from making their home there.

Similarly, your towing business needs to be in the right location to thrive. You must decide which customers to focus on— motor clubs, auto shops, or law enforcement. You need to market your business effectively and hire employees when necessary. You need to have a procedure for disposing of abandoned vehicles. And you’ll want to develop an efficient method of ridding your business of time-wasting customers and bad employees while nurturing the good ones.

But too many times we forget the importance of weeding.  With a garden, if you allow weeds to take hold— eventually, it’ll produce nothing. Well, your business is no different.

I have a friend who runs a very successful body shop, one that his father started in the 1960s, and I’ve learned a lot from him. One day, while I was moaning about some difficulty I was having with an employee, he gave me a nugget of wisdom his father once gave him.  He said, “Don’t let the bad behavior of others cause you to behave badly.”  Which I understood to mean — when dealing with difficult people, you should not, in the moment, fly off the handle and get nasty.  “Don’t get down in the dirt or stoop to their level”…is what I thought he was saying.

But it wasn’t until many years later that I finally understood the deeper meaning of those words.  More than just a suggestion to be nice in the moment, I realized his father meant that— no matter how impossible it may seem, you need to cut your losses and cut nasty people out of your life as soon as possible. Because…if there’s one constant in the world…it is that change will occur.  Meaning that, whether you like it or not, allowing bad customers, bad employees, or just bad friends to stay in your life will have a negative impact on you and change you into something you don’t want to be.

We all experience envy, greed, anger, and fear. We all have needs, wants, and desires. And some of us use not-so-nice methods to get what we want. You can excuse those methods, believing you’ve got to take the good with the bad in order to get what you want. But you’ve got to count the costs.

For example, I tend to give more attention to the bad things that happen than I do when good things happen.  When someone attempts to cheat me or change the terms of an agreement, I give it my full attention and tend to complain way too long— even after it’s all cleared up.

I know I’m not unusual in this regard. Evolution has caused our brains to be hypersensitive to anything that may cause us harm. Regardless, this tendency to focus on the negative causes me to have less appreciation for the good things. And it impacts how I treat good customers and employees. I see everything through a cloud of negativity.  And…since experience has taught me to always be on guard…instead of seeing opportunities to build valuable relationships, I mistakenly see each transaction as a win-lose scenario.

There’s no use denying it…You are your business. How you see yourself is directly dependent on the vitality of your business. When something goes wrong, you internalize it, and it detracts from your value as a person.  When something goes right, you’re full-up inside…just for a minute…then it’s back on the lookout for all that might go wrong.

To say that the towing business and towing customers are unpredictable is an understatement. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.  You never know when you’re going to be busy or when things will go wrong. You’re going to butt up against difficulties, and it’s sometimes hard to recognize the weeds, especially when you’re looking through a lens of negativity. But because you are your business, it’s vitally important that you recognize and remove what’s not working as soon as possible. If that happens to be your negative attitude and limiting beliefs, then you’ve got some work to do.