The Set Up
This will eventually get to a point about Responsibility Redefined…
Awake in the middle of the night, I arose for a cup of go-back-to-sleep tea and found Alan Weiss’s newsletter Balancing Act® in my in-box. Alan is the best-selling author of Million Dollar Consulting wherein he tells how to make a million dollars a year as a solo consultant with no employees and thus low overhead, so you get to keep the entire million and don’t have to manage anyone. I’m not there, but I have been on his mailing list for years now and I enjoy a love/hate relationship with Weiss. More about that below.
The trick — to million dollar consulting — is in value-based pricing (and winning a bunch of business) versus daily or hourly pricing. This book and his subsequent writings and tapes about value-based pricing had a substantial affect on me and is the primary reason I list a fee schedule only for speeches and workshops but not for consulting projects. Weiss convinced me that it is always in my client’s best interest to pay me on a project basis rather than an hourly or daily basis. That way, my economic incentive is to deliver great results rapidly rather than look for ways to increase billable days and hours. You can read much more about this in his book Value-Based Fees.
So, I pondered whether to read this issue of Balancing Act®. Why? I confess that I don’t always, because I get upset when I do, and tonight I intended to go back to sleep (I didn’t).
Why do I get upset? Because Alan Weiss gets in my face and I let him get to me. I admit it. The 5 year-old in me envies him big time. He’s got a newer and shinier bike than mine and I don’t like that. He raises my confront (yes, I mean to phrase it this way), and I don’t like facing the fact that he’s figured out stuff that I haven’t. He’s a master at stuff I’m trying to do or learn to do, and that makes me squirm. I can turn into a brat in the presence of him, his ideas, or his name and say sarcastic things about him, all out of envy.
You’ll recognize “confront” as one of the Keys to Responsibility™ that I teach. Alan has discovered a bunch of truths and dispelled a bunch of myths and he is unabashed about claiming his personal power and putting these truths out there for all to see, admire, and learn from. That’s what gets in my face — he’s striking close to home for me. Besides, Alan is a New Yorker and fond of his brand as being as brash as he is erudite and successful. That gets in my face too.
So, he pisses me off, I get upset, and I don’t own it; and I make him wrong for being so smart (and of course I figure he’s got to have a fatal flaw he’s not showing — that’s part of the master-envy phenomenon that I fall prey to when I dis people who can do stuff I haven’t mastered yet — that’s called Justifying). For some reason, I think I deserve to have what he has (a Bentley and Ferrari, a tony address, huge audience, etc.) and he doesn’t (where do these thoughts come from?! Oh, you have them too?). Then when the next issue of his newsletter hits my in-box I delete it before it gets in my face!
So much for my confession. I did read this issue of his newsletter after all and I’m glad I did. He writes pointedly about victimization. Here’s the excerpt reprinted with his blessings according to my reading of his copyright notice.
Excerpt of Alan Weiss’s Balancing Act® Newsletter
Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 88: December 2006)
Date: December 1, 2006 1:30:56 AM CST
BALANCING ACT: BLENDING LIFE, WORK, AND RELATIONSHIPS®
A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Past copies are archived on our web site: http://www.summitconsulting.com.
Copyright 2006 Alan Weiss. All rights reserved. ISSN 1934-3116
Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase “Balancing Act” is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.
2. The Human Condition: Victimization
Someone who was in my Mentor Program four or five years ago recently wrote me and requested his money back! He said that it was no fault of mine whatsoever, but after enrolling and contacting me a few times, he decided to become a sculptor (unsuccessfully) and never had need for my help in that profession. He told me that I should keep his address because he was sure “some day I would see the light and make good on his bad decision.”
This is the essence of self-imposed victimization. Someone makes an admittedly poor decision but expects someone else to atone for it. Sorry, no refunds.
I watched a speaker a couple of months ago in the UK who talked about the power of African tribes, and why it was a shame that tribes came to ruin in the face of modern nation-states. He suggested that we could all learn from the habits of tribes, and he suggested that he and others were the worse off for their demise.
This was still more of the poverty-based, victim mentality. Tribalism, then and now, has been the cause of tremendous warfare, privation, and loss of life. Rather than bemoan an idyllic past, why not urge people to prosper in the pragmatic present? Heterogeneous populations succeed much more than tribal groups, not because of technological might but because of the power of the mosaic and diversity.
There are organizations which foster victimization, but the most invidious kind is that which is self-created and self-perpetuated. Seeing one’s self as a victim is too easy and terribly damaging: There is no responsibility for current circumstances (“they” put me here), energy is directed toward self-pity rather than improvement, and too many energy-sapping people are drawn to the misery for the purpose of commiseration. I’ve never seen the appeal of people who tell you that it’s okay if you’re feeling low, you deserve to, it’s not your fault, and you’re not alone. I prefer those who say, “Okay, you’ve had your time to curse your bad luck and bemoan your fate, now follow me because I know the way out of this place.”
Mensa, the purported high-IQ group, is a great example of paradoxical victimization. While claiming to be superior to the general population, they also claim they are discriminated against and held back in the workplace because of their “gifts.”Huh? Not smart enough to figure out a way around that?
We’re not victimized by the department of motor vehicles or the tax people. They are equally obnoxious, bureaucratic, and unheeding to all of us. We are not victimized by the economy, technology, or competition. Others are thriving, so we can, also. A woman told me that she lost her job due to “political manipulation, her boss’s resentment of her, and poor management.” I told her that if her contribution had been truly outstanding she would still be there because they couldn’t afford to lose her, so face the fact that she wasn’t deemed all that important, turn the page, and move on.
Victims enter a doom loop, in that they fully expect to continue being victimized. (“Oh, she won’t hire me because of my age, no matter how well I do on the interview.”) They live in a world of perpetual, learned helplessness, bemoaning the fates instead of attacking the frontiers.
Don’t allow society or your own fears to make you a victim. Dismiss setback as singular and don’t immediately search for conspiracies. Change your course, learn something new, get some feedback, try again. You really have no choice if you want to lead a constructive and meaningful life.There are no refunds.
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Love him or hate him, admit that Alan Weiss is not confused in the least about what he believes. He speaks his truth from a position of self-examination rather than unconscious assumptions. He owns it. I think he’s probably a responsibility master.
I love his point about the victim doom loop. Our redefinition of responsibility as “owning your power and ability to create, choose, and attract” predicts that if you think of yourself as a victim, you will be.
That’s right. The mindset of victimization comes from the position of Lay Blame in the Responsibility Process™. And meditating on how you are a victim keeps you stuck in Lay Blame. From the mindset of Lay Blame, the only solution is for someone else to change so that your life will be better.
So instead think of yourself as powerful and able. DO meditate today on all the ways you have created, chosen, and attracted all the cool things in your life and work. Meditate on how blessed you are. And meditate on how you can choose, create, and attract so much more.
I think now I’ll be better able to confront the next issue of Balancing Act® when it hits my in box. Thanks Dr. Weiss.