The maxim is one of the most interesting of expressions because in its definition we find both truth and consequences.
Webster says a maxim is a “generally accepted truth.” But that makes it sound like we voted on it, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t the truth be beyond debate? Well, that’s why something is a maxim; it’s merely “accepted” as the truth, and therein lie the consequences.
In the world of leadership, one of the best examples of a maxim is “It’s lonely at the top.”But must it be?
Small business owners know all about being lonely at the top. Even though being atop a small business isn’t very high in the greater marketplace, no Fortune 500 CEO can move the loneliness needle as far as an entrepreneur can. But small business loneliness is a self-imposed exile that we don’t have to accept as the truth.
Maxims are usually harmless, unless they turn out to be untrue. For example, sometimes taking the maxim “It’s lonely at the top” too far can actually manifest as dangerous lies.
Consider these five:
- Lie #1: I’m supposed to know how to solve this.
- Lie #2: I shouldn’t ask for help because I’m the only one with this problem.
- Lie #3: Admitting I have a problem makes me appear ignorant and uncompetitive.
- Lie #4: I don’t know anyone who can help me.
- Lie #5: Even if I found someone to advise me, I can’t afford it.
When you allow any of these lies to become maxims the consequence can be maximum failure.
In the 16th chapter of Proverbs, King Solomon coined a maxim that should be prominently displayed in every business owner’s office: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with advisors, they succeed.” Here are some of the places small businesses can get counsel, from free to fee.
No Cost: Local peer-to-peer mastermind groups; Small Business Development Centers (SBDC); SCORE.org.
Zero to $250: Local chamber of commerce; continuing ed classes; industry trade groups.
Budget Required: Consultants; franchise peer groups, like Vistage or The Alternative Board; legal, accounting, etc.
Remember, “It’s lonely at the top” — and the five lies — get maxim status only if you accept them. Since you didn’t get where you are today by being a conformist, why start now?
Listen to the wise man, and seek counsel. Otherwise you could become painfully acquainted with another maxim in Proverbs 16: “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Write this on a rock –
Abandon the exile, lose the martyr act and ask for help.