The Gov’t Shutdown Had a Big Effect on Small Businesses

The federal government shutdown impacted my small business in a big way. Although my own job and salary didn’t get temporarily put on hold, I was indirectly affected by those I know and work with who were put out of work for the few weeks that the government shut down. A good amount of our training sessions were put on hold, many of our trainers were not paid their normal fees that they were counting on, and most importantly, uncertainty kicked in. Many of us have come to learn that uncertainty and the lack of faith in something we count on to make ends meet is one of, if not the, scariest feelings.

The anger and frustration that trickled through my company was immense. And without knowing when the end to the shutdown would come, I started to think of how I could fix this situation for those around me. I began to recognize and pinpoint the problem at hand – the United States government lacks some serious work-life balance.

For any of you who have read my articles or followed some of my business practices, you know I am all about the “5 Bucket List” concept. This list contains the five aspects of life we should strive to fulfill in order to find complete work-life balance: finances, career, volunteering, health, and family and friends.

During the government shutdown it was clear as ever – our diplomats put all their focus on two of the five aspects of life: finance and career. While these are very important aspects of life, and we should strive to succeed in both, we cannot let either one outweigh the rest. When this occurs, people become out of touch with reality. For example, our politicians were so wrapped up in their career and finances – money and power go hand in hand here – they forgot to remember the reason they are there in office in the first place: to be the voice of the people. The people had no voice while the government shutdown and the politicians refused to compromise for weeks. Politicians let their own constituents struggle to make ends meet as their voices went unheard and their lives filled with uncertainty.

One of the skills that has enhanced my role as a CEO is being in touch with my employees and understanding what matters to them so I can try to balance this along with the success of my business, not letting one outweigh the other. During the government shutdown, never once did I turn on the TV or read an article where any politician seemed to truly care for the devastation they were causing the people. Nor did they seem to feel too much urgency to diplomatically fix the problem so they could bring back some order into our lives. They placed too much weight into only two buckets.

Now that the shutdown is over and things are getting back to normal, I am reflecting on the situation and how it was handled. For years I have been involved in the field of emotional intelligence; acknowledging employees’ emotions is the only way to effectively manage them. Certainly it is overwhelming when all the buckets are colliding at once. In the case of these politicians, they are so out of touch with the other bucket that it’s almost as if they don’t matter.

What is my takeaway? Never to allow something like this to happen to me, to remember that home needs work and work needs home. Unlike the government, most of us do not have the luxury of dealing with conflict by simply walking away. We don’t live in a world where we can take a time out and shut down during a conflict – such a scenario does not exist in the realm of day-to-day life. What we can do is work on our bucket list and make sure we focus on each aspect of our lives. Work-life balance allows us to learn how to manage the hard times, without shutting down.