After thirty years engaged in the business of success and relationships, I am beginning to understand certain Universal Principles.
Success can breed the twin evil sisters of Arrogance and Pride. Steve Jobs taught us to stay Hungry and Foolish.
Idealism can breed the twin evil brothers of Bitterness and Reluctance. My encouragement is for us to remain Passionate and Vulnerable.
What do the concepts of friends, price, and value have to do with car salesmen, unrealistic expectations, and the encouragements, above?
This is my experience from last week.
As a preface to this story, I’ll ‘fess up. These are the lessons that I learned. There is absolutely no fault attributed to the cast of other characters. At the point of: “Oh, my bad,” all was well. We pay dearly for our education. I was invested in a refresher course on the merits of gamesmanship.
You see, I had let “magical thinking” get in the way of a perfectly good deal.
This story comes together over the span of the last year. Because of my patronage of The Dealership over a lifetime, two of the car salesmen were beneficiaries of watching me do business. So, when they had questions relative to new investment opportunities, I was honored to provide answers.
They were not Clients and probably never will be. Yet, for the last twelve months, by phone and in person, they asked questions and I gave them answers. First mistake: Free advice is received for what it is; worthless. With no established price, the perceived value is zero.
What begins twisted, ends twisted. With hindsight, I can freely admit that I got what I allowed. I chose not to charge these guys and let them think there was no value in my “priceless” advice. That same advice to established business relationships is priced at $2,500.
Now, I get teased a lot about the condition of my vehicles. At this season of life, with no young children and no rambunctious pets, the only “wear and tear” is on the driver’s seat. With an occupation of CPA and mostly highway miles to reach my favorite people, my 2009 Ford Lariat was in showroom condition; a new pickup, with 82,500 miles.
So, with the unrealistic expectation that I had banked $2,500 worth of goodwill with my car salesmen friends, I waltzed into The Dealership. Second and Third mistakes: Gifts are offered and Friends are chosen.
Preconceived notions are always dangerous. For me to unreasonably believe that the car salesmen were friends and that the relationship was enhanced by my generosity, the stage was set for a wreck.
Imagine my surprise to learn that they believed it fair to dock me twice for my “high miles” to arrive at an average Auction value for my beloved pickup. My feelings were hurt. “How dare they? The dirty rascals,” were my thoughts.
Standing in the way of a perfectly good new 2011 Ford Lariat pickup and the future of a relationship with these two guys was $2,500. Exactly, the amount of their second deduction for high miles and the amount of free advice they had received.
Two years ago, I thought I had learned this lesson. At that time, a Family situation had me asking the same question, “How dare they?!” In one of those life defining moments of clarity, I found the answer: iiWii (It Is What It Is).
OK, now, back to the pickup deal. Same song, second and third verses: taWta (They Are Who They Are) and iaWia (I Am Who I Am).
So, very, tired of the nonsense, I walked away. That’s just good advice for any deal; make a decision the next morning. After a good night’s rest, I woke to the realization, “They have every right to make their choices and I have the right to make mine.”
I will continue to generously give of my best with no expectation of anything in return.
Then, I remembered the inherent inspiration in a verse from my first tome, A Dance To Love:
Since life is the hand of cards to which we awake each morning, I admire those who play theirs with grace and poise. Strength of will and courage combined with the flexibility of thoughtfulness and humility results in a softness that trumps bitterness every time. As the windows to the soul, the eyes can be beacons of hope and the sparkling oasis of plenty.
With head high and eyes bright, I accepted their final offer and left an extra $1,500 on the table.
They have what was important to them, a little extra profit. I am the richer man for having the experience of valuable lessons and the opportunity to acknowledge my mistakes.
These two beliefs remain:
I am passionate.
“Friends deserve the best in everything. No sacrifice is too big, or task too small, when friendship is being nurtured. I have noticed that only my friends do business with me; so, probably in a selfish vein, I take very seriously the relationships with which I have been entrusted.”
I am vulnerable.
“Purpose in life is discovered by acknowledging a power greater than ourselves; delivery of value is possible by being a conduit for timeless and priceless gifts. The greatest gift is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others!”
Stay passionate; Stay vulnerable.