Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. Especially if you’ve convinced yourself that whatever you’re holding onto has great value.
For most of my adult life I’ve been one who hordes things like a pack rat. I am of the ilk of Fred G. Sanford, a junk man. I collect the things that people simply discard. Why? Well, I’ve looked deep into the abyss of the problem to come to the realization that I’ve suffered from abandonment issues for most of my life every since my mother passed away. This traumatic loss has often led me to form co-dependent relationships with people, places and things that aren’t always healthy.
Case in point: for the last few years, I took a person under my wing in a mentorship capacity. We have similar business interests and once shared a similar working relationship with a former partner. On the surface, this was the ideal situation. We have a repertoire of common experiences. We are passionate about creativity and sticklers for presenting excellence in all that we do.
So, what was the problem?
Well, because I had a familiarity with this person I gave him a great deal of latitude and insight behind-the-scenes of my business. I figured that he could use my successes and failures as a template for his own business model. He was privy to trade secrets, confidential intellectual property and pretty much given carte blanche because of our relationship which encompassed both business and personal elements.
I offered and provided pro-bono advice and counsel to him on building infrastructure in his own business aspirations. He didn’t have much real-world usable knowledge on how a business should function and took a ‘fly-by-night’ approach to client prospecting. In fact, he had few clients, and those that he had seldom paid him on time or honored the agreed upon budget. He left a lot to be desired when it came to client service and operational controls, but I nonetheless took a personal liking to him and offered my help whenever I could.
Don’t misunderstand this person wasn’t totally unskilled and useless labor: he had added value in his area of expertise. In fact, part of our ongoing relationship was based upon a mutual agreement of him contributing to areas of my business in his area of knowledge and my continuing to do the same for him. The problems began to arise when I started to realize that this person was all ‘take’ and so-so when it came to giving. I would put together prospects for him and line up follow-throughs and then his true nature manifested itself. He began to be sporadic in his follow-through. At first I thought it was lack of business acumen, but it was rooted in something far deeper: jealousy and fear of success. He was jealous of my successes and therefore would sabotage situations to demonstrate this jealousy before projects could blossom into success. Of course he didn’t admit he was jealous of me, trying to sabotage my success or harboring any ill will, he would usually have some excuse that seemed perfectly rational to him.
Like for instance, the time I asked him to forward me a project for a client via e-mail by close of business and he didn’t. No, it wasn’t because he couldn’t, he didn’t. I called him throughout the day for updates and kept getting his voicemail. So, I left voice and text messages. I repeatedly sent him e-mails. But I got no response. I waited. And then I waited some more. Finally, despite being swamped with another project deadline, I left the office to go to his house, which doubled as his office to see if things were okay.
He answered the door disheveled with bloodshot red eyes and I could smell the haze a chronic (weed) before I stepped inside. I was heated, but I chilled to hear his explanation. I thought to myself, “He didn’t send me the project because he was smoking weed?” But, I awaited his response nonetheless. There was none. I casually asked about his day and he was evasive. When I inquired about the unanswered e-mails and phone calls he arrogantly said, “Yo, I’m not going to be putting all types of pressure on myself for this project. Besides they’re not paying me any real bread (money) anyway. I’ve got other things to do.”
Imagine my surprise. This was someone who was underemployed, without any real client prospects and trying to build a portfolio of usable experiences to cross sell his service offerings. And he didn’t see the necessity in being responsible in presenting himself in business. To make matters worst, my business was front-ending this project since the client wouldn’t have trusted an unknown with their work, and here he was placing my reputation and livelihood in jeopardy.
This sort of nonchalant attitude of entitlement led to my being embarrassed a few more times when I extended myself on his behalf, so I began to try to funnel books and audio CDs on business to him. I suggested resources to improve his personal to business lives. I even went so far as to offer him usage of my own proprietary business collaterals to get him pointed in the right direction. He took it all in, but I seldom got a sense that he absorbed it, because his productivity remained consistently inconsistent. Whenever we sat down for talks, I reiterated the importance of business ethics to him and tried to get things back on track, to little or no avail. He simply seemed to have a self-destructive streak when it came to success, despite always crying me a river about being broke and more talented than his circumstances revealed.
I tell you, I put up with a lot from this slacker for a long time. He agreed to do some projects that directly affected my businesses bottom line and just as always, he didn’t follow through. I started to develop a negative relationship with clients and his reputation for slothfulness became synonymous with mines. People began to align me with failure and half-stepping. It was not a good look, and I had to fall back to regroup. I was spiraling out of control because I hitched my wagon to a horse going to 5 mph to Nowhereville.
Before you enable someone to hurt your business be honest with yourself:
1. Are they a help or hindrance?
2. What have they done for you lately?
3. Does the risk outweigh the reward?
Have you had a similiar business experience? Reach out and share your solution.
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Minister S-Dot, is a spirit-filled motivational speaker, anointed writer/editor, life coach, Bible teacher, secular-to-faith based marketing and experiential branding expert offering practical solutions to the everyday challenges faced by Generation Jonah: a chosen people with a heritage of running from their past to find their future.