A Lesson From Marley

I want to start out by saying that my dog, Marley, is not the brightest crayon in the box, but I love him. Sometimes though, he is the biggest doofus on the planet. I say that with love in my heart and a smile on my face. After all, everybody makes a doofus move now and then. 

When we first got Marley, he was a floppy eared yellow lab puppy from a local rescue shelter. He already had his name and I decided not to change it. Yes, I have seen the movie and I loved it. I bawled my eyes out, and I will never watch it again. I do like the name Marley, though. 

One of Marley’s quirks is that he firmly believes my house only has two floors. Whenever the basement door opens, he becomes afraid and shy. He absolutely refuses to go down the basement steps. I’m not sure why, but something about the basement scares Marley.

As entrepreneurs, we all act like Marley sometimes. Whether it’s in practice or in business plans, we all do it. We all have beliefs that we have accepted from someone else. These are often truths we have never bothered to test in our own lives. We saw or heard something that gave us a fear, and that fear never served us well. The truth is like that basement and my dog Marley.

We never open the door, we never turn on the light, and we never go down the stairs to see what’s actually in the basement. What resources and benefits have we lost or missed this entire time? What problems are down there that we might be ignoring? As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be holding beliefs you simply accept from someone else as truth. You need to test these beliefs for yourself to see where they lead. 

For some of us (including some of my clients), that basement means knowing our numbers to take responsibility for where we are financially. For others, it’s avoiding their tax prep to find out what they owe. These fears in our business practices are only going to do us harm in the future. More importantly, not taking advantage of all opportunities may be cutting you off from valuable resources that will help you grow and change as an entrepreneur.

Like Marley, you never know what is waiting for you when you open the basement door and go down the stairs. Marley doesn’t realize if he went downstairs he could play with Lucy the cat more. He could lay on the cool concrete floor when it’s hot in the summer. It’s a full basement, too. There is literally an entire third of his world just beyond that door. A quick trip down the stairs, and he’d see all this extra space and opportunity for play and rest.

As entrepreneurs, we take on many beliefs that aren’t truly our own. We never test these beliefs to see if they are true. We shut our minds and adopt these shadow beliefs without considering what’s actually possible. These shadows become monsters we invite into our lives, and then we have to feed them our fears and doubts to keep them from consuming us. We make mistakes and poor choices at the behest of our fears. 

We all need to break out of that mindset and challenge those shadow beliefs. We made those monsters, and it is up to us to kick them out. It is time to face our fears. Like Marley, all we need to do is go through the basement door to see the potential world of good waiting for us.