Saturday, July 27, 2019

It’s the Why, Not the What.

Often we are told that if you want to know what’s really going on and who’s doing what, “Follow The Money”. That’s not bad advice. But if you want to know the WHY behind what’s going on, you have to go deeper, down to the roots.

And what I’ve learned, after many years, is that when it comes to big decisions and choices that really matter, people act primarily out of FEAR or ANGER or both. They may not admit to fear or anger. It’s hard to admit that you’re afraid or to confess that you are really angry. Fear and Anger are strong words that might cause others to think we are not in control of our emotions. So we use softer words. Instead of fear, we use words like ‘concerned’ or ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’. Rather than say we are angry, we use words like ‘upset’ or ‘not happy’ about whatever it is that actually made us angry.

Since I’ve been in the headhunting business, I’ve never seen a person change jobs unless they were really concerned (afraid) or very upset (angry). They may say they are looking for career advancement or more income. But, it nearly always comes down to some level of concern or being upset. When people are secure about their job now and in the future which includes meeting their income requirements now and in the future, they stay put. When they like what they are doing and who they are working with and for, in other words they are not upset, they stay put. I don’t recall ever placing a candidate who wasn’t concerned or upset about something even if it’s just moving to a more desirable location.

And employers don’t hire people unless the employer has a “need”. And needs to hire are rooted in some type of fear and anger. A fear that if a problem is not solved or results do not improve it will have negative consequences for that employer. Or they are really upset with an employee and want to replace them.

In other words, if there is no problem, there is no need for a solution. And when something is not important enough to create some serious discomfort, enough to cause you to be concerned or upset, then it’s not really a problem.

People don’t make major purchases unless there is a problem. You may argue that people often trade-in late model, low-mileage automobiles for a new one just because they like having a new car. Fair enough. But why do they like having a new car? It could be that they are concerned about reliability and believe that newer is better and safer (they may well be wrong, but perception is reality). Maybe they are concerned about appearances. A neighbor or someone at work, just bought a new car. Got to keep up. Or if the person is very wealthy, buying a new car every year is just not a big decision.

Remember, we’re talking about BIG decisions and choices that really MATTER. If I bought an expensive watch, that would be a big decision. I don’t have a problem that needs a big watch solution. Someone who can afford to buy an expensive watch as easily as I might buy underwear, doesn’t see it has a big decision. But if someone like me made a really irrational purchase that is beyond their means, there is something else going on. That person is concerned about trying to impress others. Or they are upset about something and a crazy purchase of some sort is a way of getting back at whoever upset them.

So if you’re in sales or managing people or just trying to navigate through life, take note of fear and anger. In yourself and in others. It’s in our DNA. Our ancestors didn’t hunt large, dangerous animals with spears and clubs for sport. They were afraid of starving to death. All wars have been fought because people were afraid and/or angry. People commit crimes out of fear and anger. Religions are built on fear and anger. Human fear of higher powers and the potential anger those higher powers might have toward us if we don’t stay in line.

Every big decision I’ve made in my life has been driven by fear and/or anger. Some were good decisions and some were terrible. I look back now and realize there were times when I let my fear or anger get the better of me and I made a poor decision. In some cases my fear or anger was unwarranted. At other times, it made sense to be afraid or angry, but I picked the wrong solution to solve my problem.

So when you are faced with a big decision and choice really matters. Check yourself. What are you afraid of? What’s the concern? Why are you angry and upset? Is there really a problem? If there is, what’s the best way to fix it. Don’t make it worse. .. and we can always make it worse. That’s also in our DNA.

If you try to get rid of fear and anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.- Deepak Chopra

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