It turns out there’s much more enthusiasm for teaching humility than learning it. Probably because teaching humility doesn’t require any soul-work on our part.
Wishing someone would learn their lesson - or as we say in Texas, “get their comeuppance” - is a natural way of soothing whatever pain we feel over others’ actions.
The thing is, it is very difficult to arrange for someone else’s day of reckoning. Of course, if you are their boss or their client, you can fire them. If you are their parent, you can punish them. But that doesn’t guarantee a lesson learned.
The circumstances of life conspire to give us the lessons we need over time. The other, to whom we are trying to teach humility, will very likely continue to spin their web of arrogance, regardless of what we say or do. We can rest assured that natural consequences will patiently and consistently arrange lessons for them - lessons that get increasingly more painful if the early ones are ignored.
The real question is, if we are so keen to teach a lesson in humility, could there be one here for us to learn?
For most of us, this is the first Monday back at work after time off with family and friends. The question facing all of us is, what will I bring to the table that I didn’t last year?
If we were even marginally successful in 2013, then it is tempting to wash, rinse, and repeat. Same goal, same strategy, same tactics.
The trouble is, things have changed since then. The market got smarter, our competitors matched our offer, and we are about to get caught flat-footed by some unavoidable reality. Its not a matter of if... just a matter of when.
Even traditional industries are reeling from the disruptive forces of innovation, transparency, lower barriers to entry, and smart young whipper snappers entering the game. We have two choices:
If you don’t know what that means for you or your market, here are some ideas:
I hope 2014 brings pleasant surprises instead of the other kind. May you be the bringer of disruption, and benefit immensely from it!
I always get a lump in my stomach when I see the subject line, “Subscriber Removal Request” - it means someone doesn’t want to hear from us anymore. I’m working on my Zen-master-like state of gratitude, trying to wish that person well on their journey, even though that journey will obviously now suck as a result of them not wanting our products or services.
Breathe. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
OK, I’m back to Zen.
Why is this subject so emotional for us? I believe it is because we don’t yet appreciate the power of brand focus, brand loyalty, and brand resonance. If we try to please everyone, we end up pleasing no one. In fact, we’ll be boring, commoditized and irrelevant.
So, that’s why I’m working on my mantra, “Thank you for leaving.” And I’m working on saying it with genuine gratitude for the person who left. Because if they left for the right reasons, then it means we did our job. It means we said the right words, set the right prices, and articulated our brand clearly enough that he or she could self-select out. It also means that the list of people who remain is now 0.1% more loyal, 0.1% more focused and 0.1% more like the people we aspire to serve.
We waste our time trying to please those who are on the fence... the ones who are always threatening to defect... the ones who buy on price alone... when we could be going deeper with our Tribe (as Seth Godin calls it.) Find out who already loves your brand and give them more. Then do something provocative that helps a few fence-sitters find their bliss... elsewhere.