The greatest challenge you'll face when it comes to business is not cash flow, marketing, or customer satisfaction. The greatest challenge you'll face is not what the latest trend is and if it suits your style. It's not landing that big client, or coming up with the next killer idea.
The greatest challenge you'll face in business is human nature.
If we bring the sum of our experiences to the table, then we also bring our flaws. The challenge is that you can't really plan for the flaws of others because they show up at the oddest times.
You don't know how your employee's ego will react when given a few minutes in the social media spotlight if they've never experienced any type of public recognition before. You don't know what new lows a competitor will stoop to in order to get ahead because they're trying to prove to their wife, ex-husband, kids, parents, or former boss that they're not actually a failure. You don't know what long-buried racist views will surface when someone is suddenly in an unfamiliar situation.
Most business plans focus on market research, budget projections, and goals. Very few take human nature into account, but human nature can derail the best laid plans.
The best solution in dealing with the unpredictability of people is to be open-minded, patient, and flexible. To achieve this means that we have to take a hard look at the flaws in ourselves. Not always easy, but definitely worth it.
Originally published December 2010