Reduce Anxiety With Healthy Boundaries as a Christian Entrepreneur
Can healthy boundaries build your business? In this episode, Pierce Brantley unpacks three principles that will help you build successful business relationships so that you can continue to create win-wins in whatever it is you do. He’ll also show you the common pitfalls of bad boundaries and how to avoid them with the same techniques he uses himself.
Topics in this episode include: boundaries, boundary building, relationships, performance, Godly perspective, relationship with God, mental health, good questions, and building your business.
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Calling: Awaken to the Purpose of Your Work – by Pierce Brantley
To read the first chapter free of Pierce’s new book Calling and for more information or resources please visit eternalentrepreneur.co
Welcome to Lunch Break a special weekly series of the eternal entrepreneur that gives you bite-size pieces of wisdom on how to build a function of faith and business. Each episode unpacks, a short, actionable topic. You can put the practice this week. Let's get into it. Hello again, thank you for joining us for lunch break. I am Pierce Brantley cohost of the eternal entrepreneur. And today we are going to talk about boundaries, how to have boundaries in our business relationships, how to set boundaries with clients, managers, direct reports, anyone who you have to have a relationship with in the going ins and the coming out of the normal ways of operating your entrepreneurial journey and your business. And I already know, I have already kind of come to terms with the fact that this is a controversial subject, particularly in the Christian community. I'm already expecting backlash and that's because we have somehow blurred the lines. I use that language intentionally with what it means to set boundaries because, and our personal relationships in the ways we think about our faith. We very easily get caught up in the language of grace. And agency and having to work with people and the ebb and flows, and we just need to continue to kind of try and, and, and live at peace with each other, all that type of stuff. That is great. When we're talking about relationships in the personal sense business relationships, while they deal with people are outcome performance driven relationships. That doesn't mean that there isn't a personal aspect to them, but business relationships have metrics and outcomes and things on which their relationship is predicated. And if those things, those agreements aren't met, then you don't have a good relationship. Unlike a personal relationship, which is a meant for a biting. For intimacy for growth, for enjoyment, things which ebb and flow with the seasons of life, a business relationship does an ebb and flow with the season of life. At least it's not supposed to, it's supposed to have mutually beneficial outcomes that are decided on ahead of time. And if one of those parties is a meeting those outcomes and you don't have a good relationship. And so it's important that we have distinction. And how we think about these relationships, because if we don't, then we operate from the wrong grid, the wrong precepts, and it blurs the lines. It negatively affects the way we have these relationships. Saying that we're Pierce, you know, kind of, where do you got to get the perspective or the, the, the wherewithal to, to talk like this? So most of my business experience has been in the consulting world. I sold a boutique agency, age 26. Most of my business relationships have been with fortune 500 companies. Very powerful. High stakes, large multi-million sometimes billion dollar projects. I've worked with the top 1% of the fortune 500 and continue to the reason I say that is because I've had the pleasure to see a range of high stakes situations and a range of a very diverse and strong personalities. And I've had, have had to learn how to navigate. Oh, a large range of very large problems and large personalities. And so I want to talk to you all about three principles. That will really help you in your business relationships. It will give you a metaphorical trip to the chiropractor. They're going to adjust you and help you stand up straighter in some of those pains that you feel subconsciously are hopefully going to be articulated and hopefully go away. Once we have kind of brought them to light. So principle number one is start with what you want. They say Pierce. That is absolutely anti-Christian. That sounds extremely selfish. It's not selfish. When I say you need to know what you want. Remember earlier, we said business relationships are transactional. Again, it doesn't mean they're not friendly. It doesn't mean they can't have good things grow for them, but they're transactional. So if you are getting into a relationship with a person, a company, a project, an initiative, whatever it is, you are getting into it on your own terms. The problem, when most projects, relationships, clients, when these things kind of go south, the reason is because we didn't articulate ahead of time, what we wanted. Out of this relationship. And so oftentimes if we're just focused on revenue or getting another client or whatever, whatever we, and we haven't personally articulated why we are trying to make that relationship happen, we will oftentimes have the sense that something isn't working out. Well, we don't know why it's because we haven't told ourselves why we wanted that relationship to begin with. Because we're dealing with people. Most of us want to stay in a relationship because we want that relationship to be healthy. We don't want to failure from the sense of from a people perspective. Right. But the relationship is predicated on why you decided to be in it to begin with. And if you don't know why that reason is. Then when things get tense, you're just going to feel frustrated. And you're going to get into the normal drama of normal human relationships, because you haven't had a standard to which you operate your own ways of working with people. So what I mean by that is essentially you cannot offer value to a person to accompany unless you know why you were there, there to begin with. Now, maybe that reason is revenue. Hopefully it's not just revenue. Hopefully there is some mutually agreed upon terms to it. You are operating and what I've seen oftentimes, especially in faith-based kind of business initiatives, as I say, you know, we don't need a contract, you know, we're just gonna figure this out as we go along. Oh, this is a journey. No, it's not. It's not, if you are on a journey and you don't know where you're headed, then you're not on a journey. Okay. You just, you know, kicking stones down the path or whatever, nothing good is going to come from it. This isn't a go smell the flowers and kind of enjoy yourself and, and see where the sin kind of terms up. Okay, this isn't, this isn't going to be productive if you don't do that. So ahead of time, know why you're getting into the relationship. What are the terms? What are the things you won't do? I love to finding the knows ahead of time. And then beyond that, know how you're going to define success and how the other person is going to define success. And even though where you disagree, I think that's really, really important and articulate all of that ahead of time. Most often, if you're not used to these kinds of relationships, you avoid them because you don't like having them in personal relationships and business relationships. They're the healthiest thing you can have, and they're not uncomfortable. And I would say the best business relationships I've had and where we've defined those terms upfront. I can think of one time in particular, I was working again actually with the fortune company and we didn't have the right people to do the job. And I was worried. That I was going to kind of lose out my position or the stake I had in the project. If I did not somehow solve it, it wasn't my problem to solve hint, hint, but I felt the pressure of the problem not being solved. And so I stepped in to try and solve this particular problem. The right answer to the problem would have been. Continue to do what you're doing. The problem exists. Be comfortable with the problem existing and when the right person comes the right person solve it, I didn't take that approach. I said, Hey, I'll go learn the skill set. And I will directly contribute to this problem until the problem goes away. Well, the problem did go away and I put my personal relationships under immense stress by trying to solve a problem that I was not equipped or hired. To solve. And the reason I did this is because of pressure. Now, it was made up pressure. It was pressure. I gave myself thinking that if I didn't solve it, that it would somehow affect me, but sometimes we just need to be comfortable with the problem existing and realize if you're not paid to, or you're not, you have been tasked with solving it. It's not yours to solve. That's not apathetic. It's just not your responsibility. It's not apathetic. It's just not your responsibility. So that's principle, number one, start with what you want out of the relationship, know what you are going to contribute to the relationship. And then don't cross that boundary unless you're going to reset the terms of the expectations and a formal way. Okay. This leads us to principle. Number two, you hold the cards in your relationships, your business relationships. What I mean when I say you hold the cards in relation in the relationship. This does not mean that you are not a giving or a generous person. It just means that you know why you are giving so often in relationships that we want to force to work well, we over-give of ourselves and that overextends our ability. To give. And there's a lot of reasons why this is detrimental and unhealthy for us. But people can not make demands of you. And you may be St. Pierce. I am a manager or a board member or a client. I can't tell them. No. Yes, you absolutely can tell them. Nope. No one can make a demand of you that you don't give into yourself. That's just a principle, right? You can always say no. Now there may be a cost to the no, but oftentimes that cost is a healthy cost in the same way. You wouldn't overwork out your body. You wouldn't oh, you wouldn't work out to a point that would break your body down too much in the same way. And you would say no to yourself in the same way. There are times, sometimes many times where you have to say no in a business context. And that know defines the relationship. And that's a good thing. That's a really, really, really, really good thing. And so, and to that end, I think it's typically best to start with nos in relationships. And you say it appears that's kind of a Debbie downer. It's not if you define the terms of success. So if I know that success for me is to head north and we don't say, Hey, success is north. And we just say, Hey, success is going on a journey together. We ended up heading east and east throws off us way off course. It would have been really helpful ahead of time to say, Hey, we're never going east. We're never going west. We're never going south because we've defined ahead of time. Success looks like north. And so oftentimes we just want to say success is us going somewhere and that's never going to work for you. So start with your nose. And remember that in every relationship you hold the cards. And that doesn't mean you're arrogant about it. That doesn't mean that you somehow think you're better than everyone else. It just it's a reality, right? You don't have to do what you don't want to do. And to that end, wherever you give your cards, you play a hand, you are giving something, you are making a commitment to someone for whatever the terms are. So oftentimes when we feel pressure is when we give our hand so to speak, we overextend ourselves. I can think of a couple of examples. I remember once early career, I had a client, I was working, partnering with an agency that they don't exist anymore. And they call me at 10 30 at night. I've already eaten dinner. I've already gotten ready for the evening. They call me at 10 30 at night, a radically anxious about a client project that has gone awry and they want my help solving it. And I was frustrated and I was like, you've called me at 10 30. You've got no right to call me at 10 30. I said this. And they were like, you know what? This is an extreme situation. You just have to be on the call. And I didn't have to be on the call, but they wanted me on the call and I told myself, well, I've I want this relationship to work out, so, okay. I'm going to stay. I should have just hung up and said, we're going to solve the problem in the morning. Well, I really should have done that because after getting the client on a call as well. And so we're all having a powwow at 10 30 at night, it turns out they don't want to solve the problem either. And they realize the person is operating from anxiety, not from a, a clear mindset. And so they canceled the call and tell them to basically calm down. And it was again, because the right metrics weren't defined and everything else I can think of another time where again, similar situation had a client wouldn't work on a project for a couple months and they leave me an email about, I want to say midnight is pretty late. And again, kind of freaking about, about the status of a project, really. Like, I need to know when that's going to be finished. I need to know this was going to be finished. Up until that point. I thought that the relationship that the project had been going really, really well, but apparently according to this email, it wasn't. And so I, you know, I respond, I try to be proactive and I probably shouldn't have responded that night, but I did, you know, respond to try and show that I, I can't like, you know, this is where we're at. You know, this is where, you know, we're at, this is the things we still have to do. Things. I was pretty certain that they were already aware of, but apparently judging by the anxiety and everything else in the email, I must've dropped the ball. And so I'm freaking out because, you know, I want the relationship to work well, and I get another response back again, them reiterating that they just don't feel comfortable with the project. And I'm thinking, why is this? I thought this was going really well. And so. I'm feeling the pressure of that. And actually, as I remember, I start working on the project again and going over stuff that night because I'm like, wow, man, they must be really unhappy with me. I want, you know, the contract to finish out well and everything else. And I gave myself too much, you know, I would've been better off working in the morning and trying to clarify everything else, but I just started working on it and eat really late at night. Long story short, I'd see them the next day, or maybe it was day after. And I kind of asked them, I was like, you know, I, I'm sorry. I didn't know. These were such big concerns for you. I thought, you know, we've been looking at the project pretty regularly and I thought everything was going well. What comes to find out, then they go, oh, they're like, I wasn't upset. They're like, honestly, they said I had a lot of wine that night and I think it was probably just a wine. It hit me. And I was just kind of in that state and was responding to lots of things, you know? And it was just the wine talking. I had, I had known that would I have over-giving of myself? Absolutely not. But the point is oftentimes we cross boundaries out of pressure. When that pressure is oftentimes artificial. To begin with. And what we really need to do is hold the line. In other words, hold the cards and say, I'm not going to play a hand just because I mean pressured to do so. I'm going to keep the cards. I'm going to keep the plans I have available to play until it's the right time to play them. I'm not going to be forced into playing a game that I don't want to play. This leads us to our third principle, which is the more you give the more. Is expected. Now, oftentimes we're taught to be generous or to kind of go the extra mile or to, you know, delight our customers or our clients, or, you know, those we serve. And that is a good principle. But when we're talking about commitments, we're talking about commitments. We need to realize that we kind of set the precedent for the relationship. And so if we start going outside of the bounds of that precedent on a regular basis, and that becomes the new expectation for what we will deliver and how we interact with that client and the reason that's so detrimental is because again, things are based off of a rapport and based off of kind of the guidelines that we set. So if we go outside of that regularly, we're basically saying, regardless of what we've defined, this is the way I'm going to kind of go about doing things. And it can cause conflict because he basically said I'm going to establish a new normal. And if that new normal wasn't something that you can maintain, that it seems like in consistency. Even when it's not at least in terms of what was defined as the scope of work or how you're supposed to interact, but that's the way these things work. When we begin to blur the boundaries, the lines of interaction and a business relationship. Okay. So knowing all of this, what do we do when there's expectation on us that we cannot fulfill, maybe more is expected of you than you can deliver. Maybe you are asked to play cards that you don't want to play, or maybe they the relationship wants you to give More than you want to give, or they're not so interested in what you want. What do you do when you have any of these types of circumstances? Well, the best thing you can do is know your non-negotiables non-negotiables are the action oriented aspect of boundaries. Non-negotiables are points of personal integrity. Principles that you keep with yourself. So I'll give you two of mine. One is I keep promises to myself. The other is I confront everything. You guys have heard me talk about this before. So when I say I keep promises to myself means there is something I do, or I don't want to do if there's a way in which I govern a relationship, then I know those ahead of time. And I play on how I'm going to act before I get into a situation or a new business relationship. So, pretty much when I get into a new situation across the board, I don't do something that I don't plan on doing, because I've already defined how I want that relationship to work before I get into it. And so I don't have to think through how I'm going to act because I've already decided that ahead of time. And normally that comes from a lot of, you know, principals that, that kind of go into that, but that's kind of my Mo the other is in the event that I see something that I don't like or don't understand, I confront it. That doesn't mean I'm super or hyper aggressive. That doesn't mean I'm overly confrontational, but what it does mean. Is that if I don't understand something or I see something, I don't like, we're going to talk about it. And if you don't want to talk about it, then we're going to sever the relationship. And that's not to be super hard nose or anything like that. But relationships that are based off of performance only perform where there is clarity and where there's a lack of clarity. You set yourself up for abuse. You set yourself up for mismatched expectations, passive aggressiveness or performing to a standard Twitch, you are not required. So knowing your non-negotiables goes a long way in helping you maintain and live within the kind of those three principles that we talked about earlier. The last thing I'll say is, let's say you have tried to fix the situation. Where you needed to have a good boundaries or you needed something to change in the relationship and try as you might. You couldn't. Make that happen. I had this happen in a recent, recent season where I gave the best advice I could give. I had the right approach. I wasn't just my personal approach, who is industry standard approach. And those that were paying me to do it just absolutely wanted to do it a different way and that's okay. They were wrong. And I'm not saying that even from a private perspective, it was, it was wrong, but that was their choice. And when someone makes a decision that is not in their best interest, that goes against your better judgment. I really am encouraged by what Jesus told his disciples to do. So when he told his disciples to go off into other towns, he said, Hey, listen, when you go into a house, which means basically, what are you gonna go have relationship? When you go into a house, I want you to take your peace with you. And those gifts that come along with that piece with you, and if they invite you and they hear you the much a piece stay now, conversely, if they do not hear you, if they don't have anything. To do with your you know, your advice, what I'm telling you to do, then shake the dust off your feet and take your peace back with you. That last bit, take your piece with you is soon super important, even from a a day, a life, not just a spiritual perspective. So oftentimes when someone doesn't agree with us or a boundary has been crossed. When we try to continue to push our piece on the situation, we continue to try and make it work. We continue to overextend to give, to change the relationship, to make that person happy. When in reality, what you need to do is just take your peace back. You tried, you gave it your best effort. You came with your best advice with your a game. And the best thing you can do is take back your peace and leave the relationship that doesn't say anything about the internal consequences of the relationship that doesn't say anything about grace, that doesn't say anything about your ability to minister to the person. It just means. That if they're not going to hear you out, you don't need to abide with that situation, that person, that program, that client, that project any longer and just be at peace with that. There's absolutely no reason for you to give up your sense of rest in the spirit. To move into anxiety or stress or anything else just to make something work. If it's not going to work, if someone isn't going to hear you out or play on the same terms as you are, then it's not a healthy relationship or won't be a healthy relationship. And so you just need to cut it off. And you should be able to take peace in that. Okay guys, thank you so much. I hope you had a great, great labor day weekend, and I look forward to catching you on next episode. Thanks so much. Bye-bye thank you for listening. If you enjoyed the show, do me a favor and leave a quick review. When you do it helps other entrepreneurs find this content and benefit from it to see next week.