Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 192, August 2015)
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We seem to frequently use the wrong metrics. For example, people on Facebook often print pleading requests that their "friends" prove that they read their postings by responding in some way. Their metric for validation is that others read their posts. (See The Human Condition below for more on this.)
Publishers presumably look at social media popularity to gauge the sales potential of a prospective author, and determine the likelihood for books to be sold. Yet, there is no direct correlation. Someone could have thousands of followers, not one of whom would purchase a book, since they are only connected at the moment because it's free.
Evaluation sheets (I call them "smile sheets") after a speaker's presentation are useless, because the audience comprises the last people to be asked about the impact of the session (which also typically includes how did you like the lunch, were the handouts easy to read, and how comfortable was the furniture). The only person who matters is the buyer who invested the money in the speaker's fee. Most of the time I'm hired to discomfit an audience, to make them squirm, to provoke them. I don't care at all what they put on the smile sheets, I only care that I'm rehired and referred to other clients.
It's interesting that my car is rated at 205 MPH, because there is no road at any time that can accommodate that, short of the main runway at Dubai. (Spare me the autobahn, you can't do it there, either.) It's more important to know that my car has other attributes, such as the largest brakes in the world and blowout-proof tires.
We measure speed readers but not their comprehension. We love the ability to launch new ideas but don't look too closely at sustainability of those ideas. We think standing ovations are impressive measures of quality, yet they are as debased as the currency, provided now de rigueur by people who are trying like crazy to convince themselves the $250 they paid for the ticket was worth it (or who just didn't understand the performance and don't want to admit it).
I don't care how many proposals I send out, I care about how many are accepted. I don't pay attention to ingredients labels, I pay attention to how I feel after eating the food. I don't put much credence in what you claim so much as how you actually behave.
It's a matter of input vs. output. I was at a table in the kitchen of one of the finest restaurants in London. The chef didn't measure a thing, he simply kept tasting what he was creating at each step along the way. That was good enough for me.
The human condition: Validation
Have you seen these pleas on Facebook to "like" postings, or even to indicate that you've read someone's posting. Apparently, it's insufficient to many people that your friends on Facebook, you actually must demonstrate an active friendship and some kind of filial loyalty.
I've seen and worked with speakers who place more importance in the audience evaluations than whether the buyer will hire them again. They feel they've failed if they don't get the now tired, hackneyed, obligatory standing ovation (once reserved for real talent and not mere courtesy). One woman who finished a bit early, and wasn't in the moment enough in her memorized performance to simply ask for questions from the audience, left the stage in a tizzy when I went up, as emcee, to rescue her.
Later, I found her at the bar and told her she was fine on stage. "Fine isn't good enough!" she cried, literally, "I have to be great!"
I coach people daily who make ghastly mistakes in their meetings with buyers—buyers who can approve six-figure contracts—because their entire being is focused on being liked, instead of respected. They don't dare disagree, or push back, or become provocative. Instead, they are focused on what they feel the "right" answers will be so that the buyer will like them. Whether they are liked or not I'm never sure, but I do know they're not hired.
You simply cannot create a persona that requires external validation and affection. We do enough of that in our lives with graduation diplomas, driver's licenses, and the ghastly "certifications" from "coaching universities." (Who certifies the certifiers?) If you rely on others to confirm that you are sound, sane, and sensational, you will never be your own person and never be fulfilled.
In fact, if I'm not ticking someone off, annoying someone, or causing discomfit—if I'm not daily unfriended, unlinked, unfollowed, defrocked, defenestrated—I'm just not doing my job. I don't need you to love me, I just expect you to respect me because I'm an intelligent, articulate person who has interesting things to say. If that threatens you, or you don't think I conform enough (I follow no one on Twitter which hugely annoys some people there, to my glee), that's YOUR problem, not mine.
I don't need your approval, I'm a good, complete person. Just ask my dog, Bentley.
When I drive to workouts in my convertible, I place my wallet in the glove compartment and lock the car, which has an ultrasonic alarm which sounds if anyone reaches in. But I make a mental note to remove my wallet when I get home.
This was especially important last Monday when the car was being picked up for service. I drove home, took the wallet out and placed it on the seat with my towel and water bottle, and left the car in front of the house with the key in the cup holder. I took my workout gear inside.
An hour later I'm on the phone with a client when the house phone keeps ringing, but I don't answer. Then I get call waiting beeps on my business line and figure someone wants to talk to me urgently. I excuse myself to find the Bentley service manager telling me that they found my wallet on the passenger seat!
She said they'd send it right back with another driver. I asked her if she could also return a bag in the trunk that had my purchases from the pharmacy the night prior. When the driver returned, he brought my wallet, the bag, and my complete road kit, which weights about 15 pounds (flares, cables, flashlights, etc.). I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't need that one...
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Save the energy you expend trying to secure a "deal" and spend it on your growth and success so that you never need a "deal."