Never pick your zits when you’re a teenager, and especially not when you’re in business.


Several years ago a delightful young woman came up to me dressed in a white dress and a bright smile. She looked me straight in the eyes and started talking. Then about thirty seconds into our conversation she broke out into tears.


Crying she said “I know, I know, it looks terrible, it looks awful. I tried everything I could to cover it over but I just kept picking it and now I have this zit that is just all over my face! I’m so sorry, it’s so hideous!”


The funny thing is that I never even noticed that she had a zit. Quite frankly I was enjoying the conversation with this delightful young woman. How frequently in life and business do we stumble and make the same faux pas?


Last week I was contacted by a close friend and associate who has an online problem with Google and he was seeking some SEO advice. Apparently when you Googled his name the second listing that pops up is a negative term. As I dug deeper into the scenario, I realized what had happened—indeed he had picked the metaphorical zit. Frequently in business we become fixated on a small negative problem, and then we pick it and we pick it and we pike it, until it becomes a huge problem.


Several months ago, this individual noticed that when you searched his name…way at the bottom of the auto fill was the term lawsuit listed with his name. The interesting thing is this lawsuit result had nothing to do with him. This lawsuit was not his problem. However, he and his entire team, and everyone around him became so fixated with the “problem” that they repeatedly searched and clicked on the erroneous lawsuit results, repeatedly.


As anyone who knows anything about Google knows, the repeated searching and clicking, alerted Google that this certain search result was, in fact, pretty important and relevant. What was the result? The zit grew bigger, the problem got bigger because the team and the individual himself kept picking the zit.


So, when you have a problem, highlight the beautiful, good things, don’t get fixated on a negative problem. Don’t highlight it and bring it to everyone’s attention.


The lesson from that young woman that came up and looked me in the eyes and started a delightful conversation is this: Most people would never have noticed or cared. We don’t need to point out our problems. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t open and real! it simply means that we don’t need to make small problems into big problems.