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When I was conducting a workshop in London last year, a woman in the program asked if I’d meet with a friend whom she thought could really use my coaching. She said he was struggling professionally, and she urged him to see me.

After a day’s work, I don’t like to have business meetings, I never “sell” my mentoring, and I certainly don’t audition. The danger is that people will try to use an hour or more of my time for free help. But I agreed as a courtesy.

I was sitting in the lounge having a drink with one of the other course participants when the friend arrived for our meeting. In leaving, the course member mentioned how outstanding the day had been to the new arrival, whom I’ll call Roger. Roger’s immediate response was, “I certainly didn’t come here to get testimonials or hear adoration.”

That froze the moment, until the course member hurriedly excused himself and I wished I were going with him.

Roger proceeded to tell me all that was wrong with his career and how none of it was his fault, but rather the result of poor clients, stupid prospects, unethical competition, and a poor economy. He never asked for my advice, but lectured me, and when I tried to offer an observation, he treated it as a challenge.

Finally, I said, “I have to be going, but tell me something, why are you so miserable? You seem to believe that the glass is neither half-filled nor half-empty, but smashed.”

He said, “I’m over 50, overweight, balding, and gay, and my business is in the crapper.” (My apologies for the gross term, but those are his words.)

I don’t consider any of those conditions to be fatal or reasons for depression, and the business problem could certainly be fixed. But Roger had placed himself in a doom loop.

We all have baggage and we all have demons, and we’re all not exactly mainstream in one way or another. (Which is why we’re entrepreneurs and risk takers.) We can use our uniqueness—and the crazy nature of these times—to help propel us forward and exploit opportunities, or we can allow them to insulate us from growth, possibilities, and life.

I’m seeing too many people get down on themselves, and that’s a very powerful enemy. Look around. There are people doing quite well, often with more baggage than you’re carrying. If they can do it, why can’t you? Are they better? Or simply more disciplined and more positive about themselves?

What is the value you provide to others? To whom will you provide it? How will you convey it? If you can’t answer those questions, you need strategic help. If you can answer them but can’t achieve results, you need tactical help. And if you don’t feel like trying, you need emotional help.

“In the best of times our days are numbered. And so it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were assigned in the first place…the opportunity to do good work, to fall in love, to enjoy friends, to hit a ball and to bounce a baby.” – Alister Cooke

The first sale is to yourself. You need to make it every morning.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 5

  • Philippe Back

    October 19, 2008

    Right on.
    I was listening to the podcast episode about discipline yesterday and listen to it quite often now (it’s on my phone, so I have it everywhere 😉 ).
    Yes, that’s key. Discipline. I’ve my demons for sure and even knowing about them is not making them go away. But discipline is going a long way in making the dream come true. Also I read that we do have more than 16K thoughts a day, so if less than 50% of them are positive, this is really a lot of crappy bagage.
    Being a risk taker and entrepreneur goes along with being out of the herd. And making our own choices. Nobody’s going to do them for us. Lots of people do like to whine. But whining is never going to make things move forward.
    Recognizing one’s value and focusing on was really hard for me and I am not convinced that I am able to get the most out of it yet. Thanks Alan for the motivating word and efficient strategies.

  • Gareth Kane

    October 19, 2008

    I had a bleak September – no work and no strong prospects for the first time in my business’s short history (2 years) – and it was really hard. But I kept plugging away and bagged a medium sized piece of work with excellent follow-on prospects. Even better, the client needed me to invoice for the work by the end of the financial quarter (31 Sept) so any cash flow problems were solved instantly. It’s amazing what happens when your chin goes up – the first thing I did was sack a bad prospect who had been leading me on a merry dance. That felt great!

    What I am struggling with is that my standard way into a business (the environment manager) seldom has any buying power despite managing big budgets. Getting to the economic buyer is proving a real challenge and I keep making the mistake of offering a proposal to a non-economic buyer who claims that getting it approved will be no problem (see the prospect above).

    I’ll crack it eventually!

  • Kathryn Christ

    October 19, 2008

    Alan, thanks so much for your supportive words. While we all share a risk-taking attitude, it helps to have an encourager as we continue to put one foot in front of the other.

    I’m finding that prospecting is going well, but it’s helpful to increase the pace (the harder I work, the luckier I get).

  • Gareth Kane

    October 21, 2008

    I’ve just had an environmental manager on the phone to set up a meeting with his MD & FD, so I’m making progress…

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