152 – June 1
“The average man is always waiting for something to happen to him instead of setting to work to make it happen. For one person who dreams of making fifty thousand pounds, a hundred people dream of being left fifty thousand pounds.”—A. A. Milne
Transformational seminars are often uplifting, joyful, fun, and filled with fabulous life-changing accomplishments as people are motivated and encouraged by the group process to make improvements in their lives. But along the way, there is often incredible resistance to change as people break free of their “comfort zone.”
One week, five people who had missed the previous “Time Management” session called to ask if they could transfer to a later session or quit and get a refund. The latter requests came even though the contract everyone signed before beginning the course specifically states that the course fee is due whether or not they complete the course.
Time management is a major issue for many people; our lives seem to be a never-ending stream of possible activities. It is easy to become overwhelmed by competing obligations and fail to keep commitments. The participants who called to re-negotiate their agreements to complete the course had very legitimate sounding reasons for their requests:
“Yeah, but we just bought a house, are closing escrow, have to move, and business is booming—we got three new clients this week! We just too busy right now.”
“Yeah, but the class just hasn’t fit well into my schedule.”
“Yeah, but I just got divorced and I’m too overwhelmed right now.”
“Yeah, but I just got married and I’m too overwhelmed right now.”
Like a lifeguard who has fun in the sun at the beach on most days but who earns all his money on those few days when the surf is rough and people are drowning in the waves, I earn my keep by fielding these requests. I recognize that they expect me to be the “nice guy,” understand their difficulties, and let them out of our contract. But if I do that, I fail them. My job is to keep their feet to the flame and show them how they sabotage their money and their lives with “yeah, buts.” These people were running up against issues about how they manage their lives, their time, and their money. At these times, the inner self that is afraid to succeed, to move beyond its limitations, and to rise to the next level of accomplishment, throws a wrench in the works. “Stop!” it says. “Change is too difficult!” But it is here that opportunity lives. It is here that they can stop taking the easy way out, stick with their agreement, and learn the lessons they came to this class for. It is my job to convince them to do it.
Three of them stayed and got the financial rewards they came for. One didn’t return my calls. And one’s screaming rage made me rather relieved she wasn’t coming back. I wonder how they’re doing?
“I have all the time I need to achieve all my dreams and desires!”
This page still holds true; people still sign up for class and want to drop out when the going gets tough. All their reasons sound so reasonable, and I should be understanding of their problems, shouldn’t I?
But here’s the truth in one of my favorite quotes: “The world isn’t interested in the storms you encountered, but whether or not you brought in the ship.”–Raul Armesto
I am pitiless, because business is pitiless. If you want to be in business for yourself, you have to keep your agreements, even when it’s hard to do. You have to show up for work, even when you don’t feel like it. You have to serve your clients, market and sell your products and services, maintain your web site, write your blog, post on Facebook and other social media, go to the networking meetings, pay your bills, save for retirement, make your house payment, etc. etc. ad infinitum. All the excuses in the world won’t excuse you from your responsibilities. If you fail to run your business profitably and responsibly your business will fail.
Listen, everyone has problems. Everyone cries in the night, has a sick relative, is sick themselves, has a computer malfunction, gets overcommitted, runs out of time or money. As the country song goes, “Sounds like life to me.” Your job is to manage it.
I didn’t always know this. In the very first year of teaching my workshop, I had a woman in my class who was very busy and stressed and in the middle of class asked if she could transfer to the next class. I felt compassion for her situation and agreed. The second time, she had more problems and asked to transfer again. I said okay. But she didn’t complete the class the third time either! That’s when I got it. People want to drop out of class when the going gets rough, they reach the point of change and they hit their issue – the thing that stops them from having all the riches and happiness they want in life. But that’s what they came to the class to solve, and my giving them a free pass out of the process just delays their healing. It was wrong of me to do that and I learned my lesson.