STG 026 : Building An Emotional Firewall Around Your Teaching Business

The Start Teaching Guitar PodcastIn this episode, I’ll tell you about how important your emotions are when it comes to having a successful guitar teaching business. It’s possible to fortify yourself emotionally and build a “firewall” around your teaching business so that when tough times come your way, you can stay steady and keep moving forward.

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Podcast Transcript

Okay, in this episode of the Start Teaching Guitar Podcast, we’re going to talk about protecting the most important parts of your teaching business. So, that raises the question: what do you think the most important parts of your business really are? There are a lot of key components that make up a successful teaching business. You have your teaching skills. You have your business skills. You have your guitar playing skills. You know, kind of sounds like Napoleon Dynamite. Nunchuck skills. Bo hunting skills. But you know, those are the things that are a big part of your business. You have your customers, your guitar students. You have the curriculum that you’ve put together, the things that you teach them. You also have your reputation in the marketplace and with your students.

Those are all very important pieces of your teaching business. They’re all critical for being a successful guitar teacher, but the most important thing that you need to protect in your business is your mindset and your emotions. Those are two very, very, very important things that you have to keep an eye on and guard and protect if you want to have a successful business, and I’ll explain why in just a minute and I’ll also give you some good practical tips and ideas about how you can do that, how you can protect your mindset and your emotions.

What Is A Firewall?

But since the title of this podcast episode is How to Build an Emotional Firewall Around your Teaching Business, some of you may not be familiar with the term firewall. If you know anything about computers and the Internet, then you’ve probably heard this term before. The term firewall. There was actually a Harrison Ford movie back in, I think it was, 2006 that came out by that title, where he was like a computer security expert at a bank or something like that, so that movie was called Firewall. And I have a background in IT, so I’ve worked with a lot of firewalls in the past, so that’s why it’s a good illustration for me. Hopefully it’ll carry over to all of you as well.

But if you have a high-speed Internet connection in your house, in your apartment or in your flat, you probably have a firewall in your house right now. A firewall is basically like a gatekeeper. And it’s either a piece of software or a piece of hardware that sits at the outside edge of your computer network and it blocks all the bad stuff from coming in. So, you probably have heard stories about attacks coming into computer networks from the Internet, so a firewall is designed to help protect against those things. It let’s the good things in and out, the things that you want to be able to do on your computer. It allows that, but it blocks and filters out the things that could harm your networks. Things like viruses, hacking attempts, malware, and things like that. That’s basically what a firewall does. It’s like a gatekeeper for your computer network.

And maybe you’ve seen what can happen to a computer when there’s no firewall to protect it. Hopefully you haven’t discovered this from firsthand experience. I have in the early days, whenever I first got a computer, but if you’ve ever experienced this, you’re going to know what I’m talking about right away. But without any kind of firewall or protection on your computer, it can get infested with viruses and all this other junk, and it can stop working completely. So, an example of that: a couple years ago, there was this really bad virus going around called Botnet. I’ll put a link in the show notes to an article about it if you want to know more, but Botnet came out in 2010 and it infected somewhere around 12.7 million computers, and most of those computers were inside of major corporations like Google and banks like Wells Fargo, and places like that.

So, it was a really big deal and I think a lot of money got stolen and things like that from that virus, but that’s just an example of something that could get in if your security is not good and you’re not protecting your computer. And another thing that could happen is it could get hacked and taken over by somebody else, and they can use your computer to bad stuff; commit crimes, and things like that. So, I’ll give you an example of that too. There was this guy named Jonathan James, several years ago, and he gained notoriety when he became the first juvenile to be sent to prison for computer hacking. He was 16 years old when he got busted and sentenced, and he hacked into computers that belongs to the US Department of Defense and NASA, the space agency in the United States, and he stole a bunch of sensitive information from them and got busted and went to prison for it, but he was the youngest hacker that ever got sent to prison. And I’ll stick a link in the show notes for that too.

This doesn’t really have much to do with what we’re talking about, other than to illustrate the point that I’m trying to make about building a firewall around your teaching business. So, just to kind of wrap up this illustration, viruses and other cyber attacks like that can really mess everything up. And once they get inside your computer, it can be really hard to get them out. So, the best thing to do is just to protect yourself so that they don’t end up getting into your computer and into all of your stuff in the first place. You’ve probably heard the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, the point is if you can protect yourself from outside attacks like this, then you don’t have to deal with all the aftermath and all the mess that it takes to clean them up and put things right afterwards.

So, that’s a little bit about what a firewall is in the computer and the technology world. You can apply this exact same principle to your teaching business here, and that’s what we’re going to talk about next. So, just like a computer network is the most vulnerable point of something like a bank or a Government agency, you know, that’s usually what gets attacked first. You know, there are not too many bank robberies in a big bank these days. Not like there was in the old days. A lot of the stealing happens electronically because that’s the most vulnerable point. It’s easier to hack into a bank’s computer network than it is to bust through the front door and do a hold-up or something like that a lot of times.

Why You Need To Protect Your Mindset And Emotions

But just like a computer network is the most vulnerable point of a bank or an agency like that, your mindset and your emotions are kind of the heart of your teaching business, and really the most vulnerable aspect of your teaching business. So, you can do everything else right. You could do everything good. You can excel at every other area of your business, but if you don’t guard your heart, then your business can still end up failing. And the honest truth is nobody else can do this for you. Nobody is going to be able to guard your heart for you or protect your emotions and your motivation and your mindset. You have to do that yourself. It’s your responsibility to take good care of your mindset and your emotions so that your business can grow and can sustain itself long-term.

So, let me tell you why you need to do this. Your mindset and your emotions are so important because they’re the only things that keep you from quitting. Think about that for a second. All of that other stuff that you do that I mentioned a few minutes ago about your teaching business – you know, your teaching skills, your business acumen, your musicianship, your customer list, your curriculum, your reputation in the marketplace. All of those things are really important, but those are not the things that will keep your motivation high and keep you from actually quitting when the going gets tough.

You see, your emotions and your mindset are kind of like your Achilles heel almost, as a guitar teacher. And if you don’t protect that vulnerable area of your business and of your life really, then it’s really easy to get discouraged. And when you get discouraged, it’s really easy to rationalize the fact that you could just quit and stop doing it, and then you lose out on all the hard work that you’ve invested in your business. So, I want to help you keep that from happening.

So, you can do great, like I mentioned before. You can do great at your curriculum and at your marketing, and at working with your students and getting them great results. I mean you can be like the best, the most amazing teacher in the world. You can build a successful business and you can have tons of happy customers. You can have a great reputation in your local market. But if you don’t protect the part of you that wants to keep doing this – your drive and your motivation -, then you’ll give up when things get tough, and then, like I said, it could all be for nothing. So, your mindset and your emotions are so important. They are the things that keep you from quitting and throwing in the towel when the going gets tough.

So, according to the Small Business Association, here in the United States, they have a statistic that says that 50 percent of all small businesses fail within the first five years. So, your business as a guitar teacher, you’re a small business owner. And statistically, within five years of starting out, half of the small businesses, in America anyway, are going to fail within the first five years, and I’m pretty sure that statistic carries over to other countries as well. And this is a big part of the reason why. I mean it’s not the only reason. There are a lot of reasons why all those businesses fail within the first five years, but this is a big part of it. It’s that people get discouraged.

They lose their motivation. They lose that drive and that desire to keep fighting for what they believe in and what they dream for and are working so hard to get, and they give up. So, it’s really sad, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. Honestly, true success in your business is not measured in dollars. It’s not measured in how many students you have at any given time. It’s not measured in all of those kinds of external metrics. Honestly the true success in your business is measured in terms of years. How long have you been able to do this and sustain it and keep it going? The longer your teaching business exists and thrives and keeps growing and being successful, then that determines how successful your business really is.

It’s measured in years. It’s not about how well you start. It’s really easy to start off well. I mean you could listen to things like this podcast and some of the resources that I have available and go out and start a teaching business, and that’s honestly the easy part. It’s not about how well you start. It’s about staying in the race all the way through to the finish line. That’s what make somebody a winner or a loser in their business; is whether they stick with it all the way. Now, you may not do a guitar teaching business for the rest of your life. You don’t have to, but what I don’t want to happen is for you to get discouraged and throw in the towel way before it’s time to do that.

How Emotional Attacks Can Damage Your Teaching Business

So, if you want to protect your mindset, if you want to protect your emotions so that your business can succeed long-term, then you need to build an emotional firewall around your teaching business, and that’s what this episode is all about. So, let’s talk for a second about how emotional attacks can damage your teaching business. So, think back with me to the time when you first got started teaching guitar lessons. Some of you that have been at this for a while, this is going to be a familiar story that I’m about to tell you here. You’re going to be able to relate to this. If you haven’t started teaching yet, then just listen because this is something that you should expect and prepare for.

But if you remember back to when you first started out, everything was really cool. Everything was exciting. Things were happening for you and it felt like you were going to be really successful. Just all the stars were lining up and everything was going really, really good. And that’s like kind of the honeymoon phase of starting a business like this, and it’s really cool. You know, for the first two, three, six month, maybe even the first year for some people, it’s just smooth sailing and it’s awesome. Like I said, it could happen in three months, six months, a year, two years, it could even happen sooner than that, but eventually, maybe you hit a rough patch in your business and things didn’t feel so euphoric and exciting anymore like they did during that honeymoon phase.

Maybe you started a cool program, something that you really put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into, and the response to it was kind of weak and not many people signed up for it. You know, that could be a setback that you might experience. Maybe something happens and then a bunch of your students end up quitting on you around the same time. You know, that could be really demoralizing. Maybe some new students aren’t signing up as fast to study with you as you hoped that they would. Maybe someone said or did some things that hurt your feelings or maybe they said or did some things that damaged your reputation. I don’t know. It could be a number of different things, but you hit some kind of rough patch.

You know, things started getting tough in your business and, all of a sudden, those warm, fuzzy feelings weren’t there like they used to be in the beginning. And then maybe those temporary setbacks, which is what they were, didn’t feel so temporary and maybe you took it personal and you started to feel some anger and some resentment maybe, and maybe you started to lose your motivation. And then, after a while, maybe you felt like you wanted to quit doing this. Maybe you even started thinking and believing some negative, destructive things about yourself and your abilities. You know, lies. Those negative tapes that keep playing in our heads whenever we try to do something good.

You know, voices saying things like: “Maybe you weren’t cut out to be a guitar teacher after all,” or, “Maybe you don’t really believe in this business owner stuff and you should just go back and get a day job,” or, “Maybe there are other things that would be easier to do for a living,” or, “Maybe teaching guitar is really just a waste of your time.” You know, none of those things are necessarily true, but if you believe them, then they become true for you.

So, you can kind of see the progression of what happened here in this little story. It started out with everything being great and you’re feeling really cool and euphoric and excited about what you’re doing, and then, all of a sudden, a tough situation comes your way, and so things that you really wanted to do didn’t work out so well or things didn’t go as well as you planned. And then maybe those things took an emotional toll on you and then, all of a sudden, now you’re not motivated anymore, and then you decide that maybe you should not be doing this and you quit. It’s a familiar story. That’s what happens to a lot of small business owners.

And honestly, I wouldn’t be doing you a service if I didn’t tell you that there are always going to be setbacks. There are always going to be these roadblocks that you run into and these plateaus in your business, and these things that I like to call challenges. You know, they’re not game stealers or something that’s going to shut down your entire business. They’re challenges. They’re things that force you to come up with the courage and the fortitude to stand up and rise to the occasion and overcome them. And not only does it make your business better, but it makes you a better person too.

So, when things like this happen though, you have a choice to make. The truth is that nothing worth pursuing in life is ever really easy. I mean it seems easy for some people, and you know, for some people it’s harder than it is for other people, obviously, but what’s the old saying? That an overnight success really with someone that worked their behind off for ten years to get to that place, and it’s true. Nothing worth doing in life is ever easy, and this kind of stuff that I’m talking about here – the setbacks – can be expected and it’s part of the process of building your own business. It just goes with the territory, but you have a choice as to how you’re going to respond to it.

So, think about this here. The common threat running through that story is the fact that it’s your emotions, your feelings, your mindset, not your circumstances that can make your business succeed or fail. That’s so important. You know, your emotions factor in higher than your teaching skills, your business skills, your musician skills, and all of those things. How you handle your emotions is way more important than all of that. Why? Like I said, because how you feel about what you’re doing determines whether or not you quit when the going gets tough.

If you can learn how to manage and protect your emotions, you can accomplish pretty much anything you want to in your life, simply because you’re going to stick with it no matter what and you won’t quit. So, this is all about protecting your morale. If you run out of steam, then you’re going to lose out in your teaching business. So, building that firewall – that emotional firewall – around your teaching business is all about protecting your mindset, your morale, your emotions, and making sure that you don’t run out of steam and that you keep on going when the going gets tough.

Protecting Yourself From Emotional Attacks

So, what I’m going to do now is I’m going to share some specific ways that you can build an emotional firewall around your teaching business, and these things are going to help you avoid a lot of this stuff in the first place. It’ll protect you from ever having to deal with a lot of this if you do these things that I’m going to tell you about in a minute. And when you can avoid the trouble, like I said, it’s everywhere. It’s a part of every business. There’s no way that you can be successful and avoid trouble and heartache and pain, and things like that. The key is learning how to deal with those things and let them make you grow, but when you can avoid them, doing these things I’m going to show you in a second – these habits that help you build a firewall around your teaching business – are going to help you absorb emotional attacks better whenever they do come, and then help you bounce back more quickly from them.

So, instead of you experiencing a setback and then, all of a sudden, it takes you out of commission for two weeks because you’re so depressed and demotivated that you cancel all your lessons and you just lay in the bed all day. Instead of that, you’ll be able to take those attacks when they come, absorb them better, and then bounce back more quickly.

So, let’s get into this here for a second. This is the exciting part of this talk, now that we’ve kind of laid some foundation. So, let’s talk about how to protect yourself and your business from emotional attack. And there are three main areas of your mindset and your emotions that you need to worry about here. I’m going to talk about three kind of overarching areas of your mindset that you need to be concerned about and take really good care of so that you don’t get demotivated and quit.

And those three areas are: number one is your motivation, number two is your confidence, and number three is your attitude. So, let’s take those three things one-by-one and get into some specific practical information about each one. [Continued for STG All-Access members]

Thank You For Listening!

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Feel free to use the comments section below to let me know what you think about this episode, to suggest a topic for a future episode or just to join in on the conversation with other guitar teachers.

STG 026 : Building An Emotional Firewall Around Your Teaching Business was last modified: June 10th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder