Sometimes You Can’t go Back (You Think you have Time)
I was working for Fred Pryor (training company) teaching a workshop on dealing with difficult people. One of the options (there are several) I suggested was leaving the situation/relationship when you felt it unsafe.
There were almost 100 people in the room and I knew I was going to get some questions about this option. I always did. A lady raised her hand to ask a variation of the question others are thinking and did not have the courage to ask: “How can you ask me to leave my family? Would you do that?”
I told her this story.
When I was 19 I knew I needed to be in college. I did not know why. I build my entire life around achieving this goal. My parents were not wealthy and did not believe in college. After all my father dropped out of school after the fourth grade and my mother dropped out in high school. My father figured I could work three jobs like he did.
I choose a different route.
I worked nights as a janitor (11 PM to 7 AM) at a local high school. I did the locker rooms, cafeteria and the main hall. Needless to say it was not pleasant work. I left work and went to school from 8-3. I would try to catch a nap in the local lounge but I was not always successful. I did this for several months and as you would expect, I was tired. I can home from school one day and my father greeted me in the kitchen with this demand, “It’s time you pay rent.” His demand was reasonable – to him. He wanted me to pay $100 a month to live at home. I was only making $400 a month. I felt it was not reasonable to spend 25% of my income for this privilege. I told him if I pay rent I can’t afford college. He simply said, “Not my problem.” I then asked what would happen if I choose not to pay him rent. He just said, “Leave.”
So I did.
Probably not my best move. Not only was I broke living pay check to pay check, I have no place to live. It made my dream of graduating from college that much more problematic. I saved, I worked, I lived in a ghetto for years and I remember waking up in the middle of the night and knocking roaches of my arm. With the help of others, I was able to eventually graduate.
Never in my wildest imagining did I consider this a lifetime decision. Apparently my father did. Like most things in my family there would be a flare-up and a few days later things would be back to normal. Not this time. He specifically asked that I not come home again for any reason. I hurt his pride (or something.) Money was very important to him. As a result of this rash decision I spend several holidays alone, until I met the special lady who became my wife. That was a very difficult time for me.
Why am I writing this?
Several reasons come to mind. As a business coach who works with clients to achieve top line growth, I hear some of the most personal and intimate details of a persons’ life. Some problems are heart wrenching: divorce, death, drug addiction, aloneness, dementia, lack of self-worth, loneliness and so much more. All reasons why nothing is getting done.
As my clients came to trust me and share their deepest concerns, I noticed they became lighter, more productive and happier after some of more intense discussion. They started focusing on what was important and they started seeing some very good results. I came to realize that I was carrying this around as baggage, ashamed of what happened and not being successful in rebuilding the relationship.
I have nothing to be ashamed of. It is a story of what happened. As with any story there is three side: what I thought happened, what he thought happened and what really happened. I finally took the risk and shared this experience with some close friends. They could not understand what the fuss was about and they did not make any judgments about how I reacted. They accepted me and pointed out the inconsistency in behaviors and beliefs and how they were holding me back. I now experienced the same sense of relief my client felt and things started rock and rolling with my business. Even the coach needs a coach.
Some incorrect beliefs helped drive my decision to leave and what I really learned is that before I could grow my business I had to deal with what was holding me back. The story above was a big building block for me, a true defining moment. I since realized to help my clients achieve their goals we needed to get the other issues out of the way first. These other issues were driving their behaviors.
It is hard to focus on growing a business when your kids are doing drugs or your mother has need for 24×7 care. Sometimes there is no easy solution excerpt giving ourselves permission to acknowledge our anger, shame, insecurities, unworthiness and other feeling that dominate our thoughts and hold us back. Those thoughts of unworthiness hold us back from accomplishing what we want. “Why try, I’ll just blow it (again!)” Once they surface they lose some of their power over you and you can ow make a choice. The choice is simple: Will I continue to let this belief hold me back?
I am working with a very successful businessman. He has a strong need to be right. This works great at work because of the competitive nature of his market. It is also a problem in creating strong personal relationships when the other person always has to be wrong. It’s almost as if his self-worth is dependent on others being wrong. As we work through these issues he is starting to thrive outside of work and his relationships at work are better and as a result he is getting more buy-in and support from his staff. Strangely his business is growing again.
I worked with a plumber who business started growing after we started working together. When business improves I always asked what was done differently to get results. When I asked him this question he is what he said, “I realized I can’t stand my wife. I would rather work than go home.” This created a whole new set of issues we needed to address.
A good friend talked about his drinking problem. Another discussed how he and his wife were only best friends. They hadn’t had sex in over 10 years. Needless to say he was not happy with that part of the relationship. Since then I have heard directly from several people that this situation is not uncommon.
Another successful client was working 80-90 hours a week. He hired me to help him get his life back. He thought if he sold more at a higher price he could spend more time at home. Unfortunately, the more he sold the more he worked. His close rate went from 50 to 80%. Yet he still did not take back his life. We determine this work ethic was the results of only having a 10 grade education. He needed to prove himself. This is an ongoing struggle for him now but he now knows about it and he is taking steps to address this.
I could go on but what I have come to realize is that most business people know what to do, they just won’t/don’t do it. You can try to teach them all the skills in the world and until the underlying beliefs that are holding them back are effective dealt with, it is very hard to make progress. Sometimes the best way (or the only way) is to acknowledge them. Sometimes that is all it takes for them to feel free enough to make a different decision. At times professional help is both needed and useful.
One client is a perfectionist and has trouble implementing because it is never right. Another always did was more than promised because he did not know how to stop – he never wanted to deal with a client’s dissatisfaction with his work. It cost him a lot of money.
Most times we cannot go back and undo or redo the problem that got us here. But we must deal with the problems these beliefs, actions, or behaviors created for us: in relationships, business, financially, emotionally and others areas.
When you understand yourself, think of how effective you will be in understand your customer or your employees. From a marketing perspective you will relate to them like no other marketer. They will know you understand their problems and when they know you understand their problems they will reach out to you as your message responds to them. It is about being authentic. People are tired of marketing messages. They want to know you understand their problems, concerns and expectations.
I ran a business mastermind for many years (sometimes I had 10 different groups going.) In these groups we dealt with marketing issues, sales problems and the resulting personal problems. I sat in a room with business people who cannot stop improving their business, even when the time investment far out weights the expected rewards. They do it because it is fun, provides the feeling of control, it is safe, etc. I spoke to others who were unable to pick up the phone and make a call. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think like they do because more than likely they have the same problems you do.
The process to address these problems are easy but it takes great intestinal fortitude to be honest with yourself and a great deal of trust in people you are using as a sounding board. For many of us we have not trusted that strongly or taken that big of a risk before.
The process is simple. 1. Admit you have a problem – what you are doing is not working. 2. Tell someone you can trust what you think the problems is and what it is doing to you personally and professionally. 3. Get feedback. To get feedback you must be open to feedback. Being defensive shuts people down. 4. Ask them for support in ways that works for both parties. 5. Ask them to hold you accountable to make the necessary changes. 6. Be specific. Be realistic and 7. Don’t make excuses.
There is no need to feel embarrassed, rejected, or weak because we had to ask for help. We have been taught to accept the unacceptable; that being seen as weak, tearful, unworthiness, fear of rejection or the hundred other emotions we are taught not share because they make us feel uncomfortable.
Expect false starts. Think of it as peeling back the layers of an onion – there is another layer to peel back. It is the same in business, whether it is sales, marketing or operations. Think of it as failing forward.
The older I get the more I realize what holds us back in business, life, and our relationships is our own head trash, our belief we are not good enough, rich enough, smart enough or any other not enoughness that you allow to control your life. You can’t go back to the source where the problem started but you can make a choice that you will not let your success be driven by fear or what others think. Remember, you don’t have time. If you choose not to do this work the very beliefs that served you so well when you were younger are the same beliefs that prevent you from achieving your goal now. Fail forward now!
It is hard – hell yes.
Is it worth it – hell yes.
Think of the relationships you will build; the friendships you will forge.
Think of the results you will achieve by becoming the type of person that achieves goals – making you a better father and/or husband (wife and/or mother/son or daughter) to others who are not directly involved.
Think of how good it will feel knowing you trusted someone with such real issues and they did not reject you, criticize or make you feel bad because you are human. You will learn how to respond when people come to you with tough issues.
Think of how your life will be different as you model the behaviors you want others to learn; the congruency in your thoughts with your actions will make living life much easier and less stressful.
The trouble is you think you have time. You don’t. Time is short and you can’t go back. He is my truth. I could not do this myself and I don’t think you can. Start now and make the changes that are necessary.
If you want to learn more on how to market your business differently, check this out http://www.akris.net and let me know how I can help.
To Your Success,