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The Wealthy Franchisee

How to Stay Calm and Get Clarity During Stressful Times Mental discipline is essential for good leadership. It's also the key to becoming a wealthy franchisee.

By Scott Greenberg

Key Takeaways

  • When problem-solving, it is vital to act on data rather than emotions.
  • Metacognition is the practice of building awareness of how your mind works. Being more aware of your thoughts will allow you to take control of them.
  • Clarity is about taking in information with as few filters as possible. We need to get an objective lay of the land. Only then can we take meaningful action.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This is part 3 / 9 of The Wealthy Franchisee: Section 2: Mastering the Mindset for Franchise Success series.

Many franchisees evaluate circumstances based on how they feel, looking at just a few data points and interpreting them through an emotional prism. Rarely do these feelings yield accurate information about what's really happening.

Most corporate field representatives working directly with franchisees will tell you that much of their job is psychology. Their mandate is to ensure compliance with company standards and help franchisees build sales and profit. But the best among them know there are days when the franchisee is not in a good place to go through the operational checklist. Sometimes they need a different kind of help. However, we can't always rely on our franchise corporate team for mental support. We have to manage our own mind as much as we have to manage our own business.

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This mental discipline is essential for good leadership. It's also the key to becoming a wealthy franchisee. You're going to feel your business, but you need to understand that your emotions are often a reflection of your state of mind, not the state of your business. That's why you must be self-aware.


Metacognition is the practice of building awareness of how your mind works. Simply put, it means thinking about how you think. It's not a perspective many franchisees consider. Most are too busy—they just want to work. But being more aware of your thoughts will allow you to take control of them.

Wealthy franchisees are human, and they too experience the triggers, interpretations, and emotional responses (see diagram below.) But their self-awareness allows them to disrupt the process before they react. They insert an additional step between step three and step four: reflection. They pause, calm down, and reclaim their objectivity before reacting, which leads to more constructive responses.

When you feel a strong emotion, think of it as an alarm. Stop what you're doing and stop what you're thinking. Take a quick moment to reflect on where your head is and regain control of your thoughts because that space between your emotional response and your reaction is where wealth is built or lost.

Cognitive Distortions

Metacognition makes it easier to identify the inaccurate thought patterns that may be clouding your reality. Psychologists call these patterns cognitive distortions. These are the subjective ideas that lead you away from the truth. Cognitive distortions infect your brain as viruses do computers. They stop you from operating correctly. When you unload your mind of this stuff, you start to see things as they really are, allowing you to make better decisions. But you can't manage them if you don't acknowledge them.

Deliberate Thinking

The hardest part of controlling your thoughts is stopping them altogether. Great practitioners of meditation can empty their minds. By concentrating on one focal point, such as a sound, a mantra, or their breathing, they completely clear their heads, allowing them to be fully present in the moment. This is difficult. Most people who meditate spend lots of time having to refocus their wandering mind.

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Meditation may sound like New Age nonsense, especially in an article about business. But make no mistake—all franchisees meditate constantly without even realizing it. They just have different focal points. Some focus entirely on improving their business. Others obsess over the competition. Many can't get their mind off the bills. If you have a franchise, I'll guarantee you spend more time thinking about your business than a monk does about his breathing.

The idea is to be deliberate about your concentration to ensure maximum productivity. Learn to control your thoughts, because thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to behaviors, which lead to wealth— or bankruptcy.

Clarity vs. Positivity

Clearing your head doesn't mean being optimistic. A positive attitude is not a business plan—and neither is a bad attitude. Positivity and negativity are just two extremes on the denial spectrum.

I'm not about positivity or negativity. I'm about clarity—seeing things as they are. That's the most useful perspective in business. That doesn't mean I don't expect good things to happen—but when I do, I have data to back up my prediction.

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Feelings matter in business and in life. Emotion is what distinguishes us from machines. Pathos defines and connects humanity. It's what makes all this business and busyness worthwhile. Later, when we talk about customer service, we'll focus on creating experiences with emotional resonance, something a computer could never do. The cold, logical Mr. Spock was a great science officer, but you wouldn't want him greeting your customers.

Clarity is about taking in information with as few filters as possible. We need to get an objective lay of the land. Only then can we take meaningful action.

Leading with Courage

Courage doesn't mean you never feel fear. It means you're afraid but do what you have to do anyway. It's a choice, and wealthy franchisees make that choice. In a way, all franchisees do at some point. I can't tell you how many of my friends have expressed an interest in franchising but were too scared to pull the trigger. Opening a business is a risk. If you've decided to buy a franchise, you've already demonstrated more courage than most. That willingness to move through the fear and step toward the risk is the key to greatness.


Catastrophizing is the act of exaggerating adversity. It's when we take our problems and infuse them with our fear, stress, and imagination. We blow them way out of proportion. We create the darkest possible perception of our circumstances, making our problems seem bigger and more meaningful.

Typically, catastrophizing happens in two ways. The first is to make a problem seem much worse than it is. The second is to make a dire prediction about where your circumstances will lead. Either way, it's a major distortion of the facts.

There's a good reason behind the human mind's tendency toward catastrophizing: It's a survival mechanism. In each hemisphere of our brain is an almond-shaped structure called the amygdala, which is associated with emotion, fear, and self-preservation. It becomes most active when we perceive imminent danger. Think of it as the brain's fire alarm. When triggered, it begins to release a flood of adrenalin, cortisol, and other stress hormones into our body, heightening our alertness, triggering our "fight or flight response," and helping to keep us alive. If you hear a loud bang, your brain doesn't want your first response to be curiosity. It wants you to duck. Safety first, then understanding.

But activity in the amygdala also blocks the neural pathway to our prefrontal cortex, which disrupts executive function, decision-making, planning, logic, and other important cognitive functions. In other words, it disables the part of the brain we need to calm down and solve our problems. It's like having a fire block the path to the fire extinguisher.

These days, most of us are rarely in physical danger. Instead, we react to the mental dangers all around us. The threats we imagine are far worse than the real ones. Few children have been attacked by a monster in their closet. It's the monster in their mind that keeps them awake. Unexpected events in our business can activate our amygdala and cause us to feel threatened. These events may include:

  • Falling sales
  • Losing key employees
  • Legal problems
  • Negative press/reviews
  • New competition
  • Pandemics

Lots of franchisees catastrophize. That doesn't make them weak— it makes them human. Anyone can overreact when a high-stakes investment is threatened. But just because it's normal doesn't mean it's OK. Catastrophizing isn't good for business. It leads to impulsive decisions and can make you do what feels best rather than what is best. You can't allow your need to relieve stress to influence your actions. There's a lot you can do to regain your perspective when things get tough. It always starts with reflection and clarity. Disrupt the trigger to trouble pattern, and then take action. In the next article, I will cover a few ideas for how to do that.

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