187 – July 6
“When a feller says it ain’t the money but the principle of the thing, it’s the money.”—Abe Martin
Sometimes people owe you money and are slow to pay up. You can be diligent, have a follow-up system in place, send second notices, or, as a last resort, sue them or turn them over to collection agencies to do all that for you. But for the most part, when you have to go into these gyrations to get paid, you have already lost the war.
When someone owes you money, and doesn’t pay you, month after month, year after year, there are only two reasons:
- They are tuna: They can’t pay you.
- They are sharks: They don’t want to pay you.
Now doesn’t that just make you mad?
Well, get over it, because it’s your fault.
As a dolphin, your job is to do business with dolphins. Don’t go making loans or payment agreements with tuna—they’re not going to be able to pay you back. It’s their nature. You can get frustrated, and yell at them, beg them, send them angry letters, and sue them, but if they don’t have any money you’re not going to be able to get any money.
And if you can’t get money out of a tuna, you surely aren’t going to get money out of a shark. Even if you sue them, they’re likely to sue you back. Even if, eventually, you do get some money, along the way you’ll probably bleed to death from the shark bites. Sharks won’t hesitate to bite you, you know. At the very least, you’ll have spent a lot of time, money, and energy in a crazy-making, anger-provoking business. Not my idea of a good time. (Sometimes necessary when you have to defend yourself—you don’t want to be a tuna—but to be avoided if at all possible.) I never saw anyone become happier by getting involved in a lawsuit.
If somebody’s “got your goat” and is making you angry because they’re not paying you the money you are owed, put the responsibility for this back where it belongs—on you. You picked these people to do a financial transaction with. Bad idea. Big mistake.
Now you have to put an end to both the anger you hold for them and the lingering hope that “someday” they’re going to pay you. Righteous indignation and unfounded hopes will keep you in an endless rerun of this drama. So write off the debt. Take it off your accounts receivable ledger and chalk it up to experience. You just paid a fee for a Life Seminar called “How to Lose Money Swimming With Sharks and Tuna.” Tune in to your higher self, write them a genuinely nice letter forgiving the debt, and consider it your “School of Hard Knocks” graduate diploma—bought and paid for. If you truly forgive them and yourself for this experience, you win. And more money will flow to you from other, expected and unexpected, places.
Then pray that you don’t have to repeat the course.
“All my clients pay me in full, fast!”
I think I was mad at myself when I wrote this page, having had some people not keep their payment agreements with me. I care about people so much, and believe I can help, so I have always made some fairly easy payment terms so people could enroll in the class. But as someone once said, “Do you want to work and not get paid? Or not work and not get paid?” It’s aggravating when you work and don’t get paid.
But in practice, as I review my accounting, I can see that my payment plans with people have mostly worked out terrifically well! A lot of people who can benefit from my financial coaching have been enabled to take my course and learn and grow who otherwise would not have been able to. I’ve had more people to coach, and my income has grown because of that.
All companies have some delinquent accounts. They write them off, and price their services to accommodate the fact that not all accounts will be paid in full. On balance, it all works out. And I feel good about having helped people who otherwise might not have gotten the help they needed to improve their happiness and prosperity. If a shark or a tuna swims in there occasionally, I can deal with that. They’re a minor blip on the radar screen of life.
The pleasure is in helping the dolphin pod jump for joy!