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Editor's Notebook

The Most Important Tool in Your Shop

To the best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as an overnight success in the tire business. It just doesn’t happen like that.

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To the best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as an overnight success in the tire business. It just doesn’t happen like that. While tire dealers may have different definitions of success, most will agree that it takes years of hard work and determination to get there.

As with any business, stress is part of the package, so it’s important to fortify against its potentially negative effects. Of course you can’t make the stress of running a business disappear, but you can manage your response so it doesn’t make you sick.

Not long after I opened my second retail location, I can remember sitting on the vinyl table at my doctor’s office, his cold stethoscope picking up the heart issue I had been trying to ignore for months. Before that day, I had cancelled appointment after appointment – I mean, who has the time to go see the doctor when you’ve got a growing business to tend to?

The combination of chronic stress and bad lifestyle choices had finally taken its toll, forcing a fast change in my priorities. But to be honest, I didn’t want to slow down. I knew I was burning the candle at both ends, but I didn’t want to change. I didn’t think I could afford to change – when actually I couldn’t afford not to.

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I also didn’t think I had time to follow my doctor’s advice – to work out, do yoga, cook a healthy meal, pack a salad, etc. Instead, I was fueled by fast food, coffee and chocolate, frustrated by health goals not met and exercise classes missed. Not long after, I ended up in the emergency room with another scare. That’s when I made the personal commitment to take better care of myself.

That shift in priorities made everything better. My sugar-induced brain fog lifted. My energy was higher. My mood was brighter. Both my business and relationships flourished.

As an owner, you are the most important tool in your shop. Your health is your most valuable business asset; your brain and body the most important equipment. So while you have rules in place to wipe things down and perform routine maintenance on your equipment investments, what are you doing to take care of you?

This issue is dedicated to running a healthy business – and the idea of business health extends far beyond the bottom line. Our cover story (page 26) offers tactics and advice on ways to introduce healthy initiatives to your business, including examples from other tire dealers and dealerships. But that’s just the start.

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Personally, I’m more concerned about you – how you as an owner and business leader can stay vibrant so you can fully enjoy the fruits of your labor without being poisoned by the process.

According to the Mayo Clinic, feeling like you’re being threatened causes your adrenal glands to pump hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. When you feel like you’re under attack all the time, you get overexposed to those hormones and it disrupts almost all of your body’s processes.

If you wonder why you gain more weight when you’re stressed out, it’s because cortisol increases sugars in the bloodstream, lowers your immune responses and suppresses the digestive system. At the same time, adrenaline increases your heart rate and elevates your blood pressure.

In other words, when you let the stress get to you, the stress can actually get to you.

Health isn’t limited to just the physical. It also includes making time for activities to feed your soul – spiritually, mentally and emotionally – giving you a sense of balance in your busyness.    

The better you feel, the better you perform. And your performance in your role directly impacts the success of your business and the families of the people you employ.

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I used to think that my business did best when I was completely absorbed by it – and for me that meant 24/7/365. (I was completely wrong, but we’ll get to that in our upcoming February issue). As an owner, employer and mom, I was the glue that held together the lives of those around me. I would take care of my customers, my staff, my family – but I couldn’t seem to find the motivation to take care of myself. As a result, my own health quietly deteriorated.

What I’ve learned is that you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of those around you.

Board any airline and the flight attendant goes through the spiel about keeping the aisle clear, seatbelts fastened and blah, blah, blah. But then there’s the middle part – the thing about the oxygen mask. They say you’re supposed to put the mask on yourself first before assisting those around you, including small children.

Seems pretty selfish. But at 30,000 feet, you’ve got about 10 seconds before the oxygen levels fall into the danger zone, causing you to become disoriented, lose consciousness and possibly perish. So if you put your mask on first, you’ll not only survive but you’ll be able to help those around you, people who need you.

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So, though it seems like it’s better to sacrifice yourself for those around you, ignoring your own health is actually the most selfish act of all, potentially robbing those around you and those you love of a future with you in it.

Pull up any study on life’s regrets – what people on their deathbeds would change as they look back at their lives – and you’ll find two common themes: “I wish I had spent less time working and/or more time with my family,” and “I wish I had taken better care of my health.”

That’s what our December issue is all about.

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