Breaking Your Hand Can Make You Better at Business
Ouch! It happened fast and in slow-motion. I was recently helping my son move a mattress into the house, tripped and smashed my hand on our hard asphalt driveway.
Two scraped knees, a pair of lopsided glasses and a shattered fifth metacarpal later, I had to have surgery on my right hand. The result was having two pins in my hand for 6 weeks to keep the bones in place, while also wearing a splint. Funny enough, this type of break was called a Reverse Bennett fracture, and I was on my way to see Tony Bennett perform the night of the injury (don’t worry, the break did not stop us from going to the concert!)
At first I was upset, confused and unsure how to handle the situation. Since I am right-handed, this injury curtailed my ability to perform basic daily tasks such as brushing my teeth, feeding myself and driving. And have you ever seen a one-handed magician? Running Pivotal Business Solutions presented a few more problems. I caught an Uber to our office the next day and sat down at my desk. I was flooded with a sense of dread. How could I possibly work, since keyboarding is so vital to my work – and possibly to my sanity.
Instead of letting my worry control me, I took a deep breath and began one step at a time. I first installed a left handed mouse; although this was initially uncomfortable, I also began to learn to type solely using my left hand.
Then several people suggested dictation software. I started with Microsoft dictate (which I did not particularly like). On the advice of one of my closest friends from college, who is a lawyer and quadriplegic, I moved on to Dragon software. Dragon is amazing. Not only can I now dictate what I want to write, but some things can actually be done faster than when I could use two hands. I’ve now integrated Dragon into my workday. It stays, even when I gain back full functionality in my right hand.
Then, once I got my pins out, I had to begin rehab for my hand. Fortunately, my wife, Amy, is an occupational therapist who specializes in hands. I have all kinds of exercises I must do throughout each day that take time and hurt, but I know they are getting me on the right path.
As I adjusted to life as a lefty, a one-armed typer and to having to do the hard day-to-day work of OT rehab, I learned a new appreciation for others who face long-term disabilities. I also found my experience ironic and slightly humorous. I realized the process was parallel to running a business. Entrepreneurs know that each week different hurdles are thrown in your path. Just like having a broken hand, business leaders who succeed are the ones who learn how to adapt.
How you get to where you are going next often doesn’t matter – rather it is persistence, the tools or methods you use to solve your problems and then doing the hard day-in-day-out work that are most important. Part of most successful solutions includes a few pivots to the unexpected. Often, it includes talking to others, testing new technologies and figuring out what works through trial and error. Of course, if you can tap into advisors who have been through the experience before, you can pivot faster — like calling on my lawyer buddy Joe Gibney who shows me all the time how to leverage technology and to always look at the bright side.
From a psychological standpoint, learning new skills is actually good for your brain. Adult humans’ brains are neuroplastic, meaning that we have the ability to keep learning at any age and to expand the capacity of our brains. Your problem may be the loss of a key employee, operational inefficiencies or market pressures. The ability to be flexible, learn new skills and open up new neuropathways will help you succeed.
This adaptability is truly fascinating regarding loss of hand function. When you have to switch to using your non-dominant hand, there is an interesting form of new learning that happens. Your left hand is correlated with right brain ability, and vice versa. So if you are right-handed, you are primarily left-brained. By being forced to use my left hand I actually began to create new neural networks within the right side of my brain.
The left side of the brain tends to correlate with linear thinking, facts, logic and mathematics, which is primarily what I use in work day-to day. However, the right side of the brain is the brain’s creative hub, related to imagination, intuition, and more holistic thinking. Therefore, over the course of the past few weeks, by being forced to use my left hand only, I likely formed new brain network pathways that I hadn’t used before.
Related to this concept, many experts actually encourage individuals who are not ambidextrous to switch things up every so often. If you write with your right hand, try writing a business letter with your left hand, or draw or even just brushing your teeth with the non-dominant hand to spur brain cell proliferation.
Another interesting thing about accidents and major setbacks is that most people have a set point level of happiness, and bounce back to this point rather quickly. Many of us tend to overestimate how long we will be really happy for if we win the lottery or how long we will be really sad for if we, say, break our hand. Actually, you tend to go back to your usual happiness level rather quickly, whether something really good or bad happens.
It is funny, because this mirrors what we do for our clients. We help them pivot to something better when they get thrown off their set point. Something comes up and blocks them, we help them pivot and change – not give up. If you want to learn more about how Pivotal Business Solutions can help you pivot to funding, hiring, operations or even to life with a broken hand. Give us a call.
Click here to schedule a 15 minute introductory call to talk about your business.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin