In your lifetime,
you're going to help people
with all different kinds of problems.
It might be students, patients, friends, colleagues,
strangers and family.
In business, consultants listen for openings
to offer themselves as the solution.
Hey - you have a problem there.
Hmm..I wonder what could solve it.
Wait a minute! I know - ME!
Which is very convenient for the consultant.
So on one end, the person helping
might be busy with a prepared answer
ready to "customize" on a moment's notice.
If you're listening with a set of answers in mind,
are you really listening?
On the other end is the person with the problem.
"Help! I'm stuck in a tree!"
How did you get there?
" I climbed it."
So why don't you come down?
Of course it is. :)
Now we're not including the "Captain Obvious"
tragedies and disasters in these complications.
Make a list of them before we get started.
The terrible accident? I'm not talking about that.
That's an accident - not a complication.
The horrible illness? Nope. Not that either.
I am officially not talking about anything on that list.
I defer to your judgment to know the difference.
A complication is a frame where certain things
can't be addressed freely because it's extremely uncomfortable
or potentially puts something important at risk.
It's a problem that's frozen in amber.
Nothing is going to change in the foreseeable future.
No. Way. Out.
But complications aren't all bad are they?
Some complications buy you time
and give you cover for sub par efforts.
These types of complications
are the wingmen to procrastination.
They give all the alibis and
back you up like loyal friends.
Complications are like
a dream public relations agency.
You want examples.
Here's a few:
It's not that you're afraid to talk to the client,
it's the client is hard to reach.
It's not that the student needs extra help,
it's the student doesn't take the teaching seriously.
It's not that someone needs extra training,
it's "we need to find more motivated people."
It's not that you turned in sub par work,
It's "my heart just wasn't in it."
See all the work complications do for you?
You get all the credit and none of the blame.
These complications are pretty awesome! lol
Now if someone is telling you these complications,
who wants to bother debating with them?
Isn't it so much easier to just agree?
You can come up with ways for them to find new clients
instead of dealing with their fears.
Even for yourself:
You can look for easier topics to teach
instead of digging deeper with a student.
You can make promises
with asterisks to people.
I promise to give you my best*
(*unless I'm feeling scared, uninspired,
overwhelmed or my heart isn't in it)
Of all the problems
you've ever overcome in your life,
I will assert one undeniable truth:
You are very, very strong.
You may be feeling weak in a moment.
But that strength is there.
Notice how I go back and forth
between someone telling you about their problems
and the problems you face?
Because you're deciding
how to respond to them and yourself.
When you sell something,
you're saying something
is more valuable than something else.
When you listen, what you value
determines what you hear
and what you remember.
You can write whatever you want.
The reader decides what is valuable.
So you keep this in mind.
You have things you repeat.
You have things you emphasize.
AND you have things you downplay.
You even have things you deliberately leave out.
The narrator designs the story.
Why are you telling me the story in a certain way?
How else could the story be told?
Are you leaving anything out accidentally or on purpose?
Think about it.
When a contract is disputed,
one side sees themselves as the hero.
Funny enough, so does the other side.
Family members remember key events differently.
This goes to the core of what I try to teach:
An honest and reliable eye.
If you can't see your role in a problem,
it's going to be hard to fix.
It's easier for a client to point
to spreadsheets than to admit being afraid.
Who else has tight control
of what you see and don't see?
They design slot machines
to have maximum "game play."
So when you put money in,
it doesn't just tell you if you won or lost.
The game would be over in 2 seconds
and it wouldn't be any fun.
Instead there are bright lights and loud sounds.
It gets all your senses involved.
You feel a sense of accomplishment...
While you lose.
That's the difference between a story with an opening
and what I call a "quicksand story."
Quicksand stories have no way out.
When I hear one being told,
there's usually a line of noble people
who tried to help before me.
If everyone failed to help, that's a red flag.
I'll ask what they've tried before to get free.
When people tell you they're stuck,
ideally they're sharing all the ways
they're trying to overcome being stuck.
Hopefully they made real progress.
Or at least they're open to trying to get unstuck.
I run into some people
that are determined
to keep their complications.
You know the famous help wrecker:
"but my business is different."
When they tell their story,
it sounds less of a business problem
and more like an episode of Game of Thrones.
There's lots of narrators stuck in trees- with competing stories.
Some fighting help when they get it.
Then even if they like the help, it may not be enough:
- The help didn't come when they had free time.
- That help isn't what they're focusing on at the moment.
- "Maybe come back another time and I'll see if I'm up for being helped. lol"
I get tired just tracking all this!
Then we get to the plot problem.
The plot problem keeps lots of people stuck.
What's the plot problem? The secret script you have.
There's a script for how it's all supposed to go for you, isn't there? :)
Something is supposed to be happening and why isn't it happening?
Why isn't my life like my favorite Instagram feed?
So how many people are really stuck?
And how many people are just being stubborn?
It depends on who you ask. :)
But if you come across help along the way
and you know you need it,
don't count on the next bus coming.
Take the help.
And give it whenever you can.