The word “boundary” has a negative connotation these days. And yet, it is a key concept that defines how to achieve successful relationships of every kind.  Every person has limits. Each person’s limits are different based upon many factors. There is no one-size fits all personal or professional boundary. This is what can make relationships risky.

Entering into any type of relationship, agreement, partnership or contract requires a lot of due diligence and even when due diligence has been performed at the highest levels, there is always inherent risk present. You just don’t know what the other person is capable of doing when faced with challenges that might arise during the engagement. Even in the absence of challenges, the other party may fail to perform.

I’ve been an entrepreneur all my adult life and have conducted business all over the world with small, mid-sized, fortune 500 companies and solopreneurs.  The risk is all the same, but the damages that can occur as a result of not knowing, setting and honoring your own boundaries can vary from minor to catastrophic. The bigger the fish, the greater the potential loss. But, regardless of the size of the fish, the sheer waste of time and energy expended to correct the breach is a drain financially, mentally, emotionally and physically.

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything. ~Warren Buffett

Here’s How to Know, Set and Honor Your Boundaries to Maximize Your Success and Minimize Your Losses:

1. Know Yourself and Your Values. What behaviors are unacceptable to you? What’s you rule about 2nd chances? Do you allow 1 strike, 2 strikes, or none? What’s your #1 core value that if someone can’t abide, you walk away?

2. Don’t Violate Your Own Values. If you can’t honor your core values than you can expect nobody else will and it is the surest way to fail.

3. Walk Your Talk. If your behavior isn’t consistent with your promises or in general is inconsistent, the weakness will be noted and capitalized upon.

4. Clearly Communicate Your Requirements and Expectations. Take the time and make the effort to clearly set forth your requirements. This is an area where I see many companies and solopreneurs fail which causes them loss and hardship which could have been avoided.

5. Don’t Bluff. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you set a clear boundary with a promise to seek remedy, then follow through. Making false threats only escalates the problem, is a character trait of a poor leader and set’s you up for potentially even greater losses.

6. Fearlessly Set Your Boundaries. Learn to say no. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you. If you’ve been wronged, harmed or damaged by wrongful behavior of another party, then step out of fear and into action. Nonaction or delaying action can cause you to suffer far greater consequences than standing up for yourself early on.

In Closing My Shocking Confession: A CFO of a major national bank had just committed perjury against me in a take-over attempt to seize everything I owned! WTF!?? Even my well-seasoned attorneys couldn’t believe it. My very expensive team of attorneys immediately told me I’d get crushed and lose everything if I tried to go up against the giant with the truth. They told me to cut my losses and payout the huge amount of money and hand over the assets that they were demanding. I was exhausted after months and months of court proceedings. I was about to throw in the towel, when I thought about how my letting this guy get away with this was going to give him the confidence to keep doing this to others. I had to take the risk and honor my core values which included honesty and having a social conscience.  Exhausted, I dug deep, sorted through mountains of data and correspondence and found the one bit of evidence that confirmed his fraud. Fearlessly, I reported the individual to the appropriate authorities and sent the evidence along with a letter to the founder of the bank (against all attorney advice). He immediately fired the CFO and dropped the claim. I later received a thank you letter from an executive within the bank stating that both the employees and customers had endured years of abuse from this man.