So, lesson one that I learned from my wife, the naturopath was that ignorance is bliss. In any case, this was not the only lesson that I learned about how holistic medicine relates to business. Not even close. And now we’re going to talk a little bit about headaches and other such things. Not the headaches of day to day life as an entrepreneur. Not the headaches of my life as a primary care giver to one of the most energetic children I’ve ever known. No. I’m talking legit headaches.

I used to get them. A lot. For no apparent reason. So I would take headache medication. I’m a big dude so I would take a lot of headache medication. And my headaches would go away. Great. Right? Wrong. Headaches don’t “go away” because you take headache medication. Let me explain what headache medication ACTUALLY does. When you take headache medication, the medicine does not “cure” your headache, the medication MASKS your headache while your body cures your headache. It basically dulls the pain receptors in your body so that you can’t feel any of the pain that is happening in your body while your body tries to heal itself. In other words, you’re not treating the actual problem, you’re treating the symptom. 


This is the primary purpose of western medicine (sorry western docs) is to make you not feel awful. Less attention is paid to why you’re feeling terrible if they can make you not feel that way as often as possible. This is not the way natural or holistic medicine works. With natural medicine, the focus is on why these things keep happening rather than the seemingly more attractive “make it not hurt” modality. Imagine my surprise when I was able to identify and remove those factors that caused my headaches. Saved an awful lot of money on headache medication since (sorry Tylenol).

So, what exactly is the point. What does this have to do with business? I know this is a question that I have asked at about this point on every comparative piece I’ve ever written, so why change now? In any case, what does this have to do with anything? Well, let me tell you another story. Last year I took on an intern. It was a business student that I knew semi-personally and based on our conversations I was very excited about us working together. He had a lot of energy and a lot of great ideas and it was going to be awesome.

But to be awesome, it wasn’t. And I’m not here to blame it on him. Quite the opposite. In fact, I’m here to tell you that I blew it. I failed to recognize that I was dealing with a really excitable young talent. I failed to recognize what he needed to succeed. What he needed to succeed was scaffolding and a whip. What he needed to succeed was someone to be all over him to make sure that he got the job done. And I didn’t give him that.

I was used to old journeyman, people who had been grinding it out and just “do their job”. I was used to corporate people who just did mindless work without really requiring much in the way of carrots or whips. His failings were the symptom of a larger problem. So I would get on him about  getting something done. But I failed to provide him with more vision of where we were headed so that I could let him find his way there. The larger problem was my inability to form my needs to the skills and working habits of my employees. I had always just brought people on to projects who were either EXACTLY like me or were EXACTLY what I needed them to be. I had never dealt with someone outside of MY comfort zone.

Realize that most of the problems you encounter within your business are not actually the problems. They are the symptoms of a problem. That problem may be personnel, finances or other resources. But the thing that seems to be wrong is usually not the thing that is in fact wrong. So how do you identify what the real problem is? It’s hard. It’s not easy. It involves a lot of self reflection. It involves coming to one very big and very difficult conclusion. Are you ready?

It’s YOUR fault. It might not be. But this has to be the very first thing you assume. Why? Because you have absolute control over it. The idea that this could be YOUR fault that things are not going the way you want them to is the thing you have the greatest ability to change. If you eliminate this as the source of your headache, then start moving outwards. Your partner? Your staff? Your business model? Your product? Look at each of these things and say “is THIS the problem?” Be relentless. Do not stop until you know for certain that you’ve put your thumb on the problem. And then do something about it. Don’t take a pill, take action.