What Is The Single Biggest Indicator Someone Will Succeed?
When we lead someone to the truth, there are many times we have no idea what happens. Every now and then, I encounter a participant or a client that seems to fight my input every step of the way. But, the truth is like throwing a stone into the water. It is simply impossible to track where it leads. One of my clients was in an untenable situation with her boss. Every suggestion was met with resistance. I don’t work with clients who fight me.
My turning point on the dynamic occurred when one of my colleagues ran The Stella Adler Institute. She had become too ill to lead. One night they were having dinner. He asked her, “Who are your favorite students? The ones you rescued from obscurity?” She blew out a big plume of smoke and responded, “Hell no! I prefer working with the rich and the famous.” He asked why. She continued, “Because, the rich and famous respect me. The consume every suggestion and word. They send me love notes. The rest fight me every step of the way.”
I was so thunderstruck by her comment that I reached out to the most powerful teachers and mentors I had ever worked with. One of them is a world-famous concert pianist that I worked with at USC. I told him the story about Adler. He smiled and said, “Whenever someone manages to get in the door of my studio, my first question is, Do you want to be a concert pianist. If they respond with anything less than a full commitment, I get up and show them the door. On another level, if I have a student who fights my input, I also show them the door.” I asked why. He said, “Because they will never succeed.”
The experience and the feedback changed my life. I continue to encounter people who shower the cynicism when I suggest we can help them orchestrate their success. I no longer run after them. The work that I have been so fortunate to do forced me to heal and to emotionally grow into an adult. Whenever I walk into one of our programs, it is important to leave my stuff at the door and to be 100% there for everyone. In the early days of Inspired Work, we periodically had a participant that acted out would shower everyone with cynicism. One weekend, a new colleague, a leader in organization development walked up to me at the first break and said,
“Your work is all about building happiness in our professional lives. So, why are you putting up with the witch in the third row?”
I said, “I feel a responsibility in supporting everyone who makes it into this room. She will come around.”
“Well yes, she probably will. But only after she ruins your experience of the program and everyone else in the room.”
I walked to the back table and got out my checkbook. When she came back, I walked over, gave her a full refund and asked her to leave.
We have hosted programs for thousands of people ever since and somehow angry and irresponsible participants stopped showing up.
I realize that many of us have had life experiences that push us into protecting ourselves from anything that could provoke change. Humans seem to have this inordinate capacity to protect themselves from the lives they are meant to have.
Years ago, I was getting booked into radio stations by my publisher. I became used to sitting on the sofa with a coffee and a dachshund on my lap while guesting on shows. There was an evangelical program that regularly asked me onto the program. They seemed to believe that since my book had a spiritual theme, that I ascribed to a religious viewpoint. All goodwill came crashing down when they asked, “So Mr. Harder, how would you describe your spirituality?” I responded, “My basic philosophy is that I do not ass from a hole in the ground.”
Regardless of how others would judge my response, it is my truth. Whenever I believe I have all the answers, my growth is over. When I practice arrogance there is no room for higher thought to make it into my head and my heart.
I do not go to my single friends for advice on dealing with my relationship. I go to the friends that have powerfully solid marriages. Invariably they impress some form of humility on my outlook and it always works.
Over the weekend, I got a note from the former client, the one that I believed was not receptive. She bought out the difficult boss and owns the company. This is one of the options we wrestled through years ago. Her note expressed so much gratitude that I kind of fell out my chair. Her communication elevated the entire week. She went into magnificent detail about how much my input changed her life. Once again, I am literally humbled.
As for her, she is becoming one of the rich and famous.
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