Confession time: In the past, I was afraid to ask hard questions because I didn’t want people to think I didn’t trust them. I didn’t want them not to like me. I didn’t want them to think one thing or another about me.
So, I said yes to things that were not in my best interest. Like the guys who flat out ripped me off for $10,000.
It (and many other things like that) happened because I was operating my business and life in the dark. It was easier not to ask the hard questions.
I didn’t want them to think I didn’t trust them. I didn’t want to make them feel bad. I didn’t want to be unreasonable. So I kept my eyes closed and dove in to the relationship without looking.
When they said they couldn’t give me references because of confidentiality agreements with their clients, I nodded and smiled because I thought we were on the same page spiritually. And we trusted each other.
What I recognize now is that I was afraid they wouldn’t like me or wouldn’t want to work with me.
As I’ve been doing interviews for LIFT, I’ve discovered a lot of business owners are just like me in this regard.
Men tend to come at it from a slightly different perspective. They don’t ask the hard questions because they don’t want to look stupid as opposed to not being liked.
What I’ve realized as I’ve been working on LIFT is that being willing to ask the hard questions is part of what it means to be a real deal serious eyes wide open business owner.
I got the opportunity to test this recently.
I attended a charity event a few weeks ago at John Assaraf’s house.
I’m a great believer in synchronicity and that there are no accidents, so I wondered why it was that the Universe wanted me to meet this guy.
After talking with him a bit, I discovered that from what he said he had the power to advance my business substantially.
If what he said was true. IF.
Now, in the past, I would have taken the fact that I met him at John Assaraf’s house and at Vishen’s part (two business men I greatly respect) as the only proof I needed that he was good people.
I would have been unwilling to ask the hard questions that would allow me to verify that truth because I’d be afraid if I did he wouldn’t want to work with me.
But, this time, I did it differently. And I have to tell you, it felt amazing.
After having a couple of conversations about what he could do for my business and hearing how much my investment would be to work with him, I thought about what I should do instead of saying yes right away.
I was aware that I felt fear about the engagement and decided to inquire into the fear within myself instead of ignoring it.
When I did, I recognized that:
1. the fee was going to be high, but definitely worth it IF he could do what I hoped and not a higher fee than I’d ever paid for coaching/consulting before and he’d be doing way more than coaching/consulting on this project;
2. I knew that I’d be able to deliver the goods on my end, if he came through with his part.
So, what was the fear?
The fear was a valid fear that said “Hey, Alexis, you don’t really know this guy at all. He could be exactly who he says he is and be able to do what he says he can do or he could be another person who sees you as trusting and vulnerable. Are you going to blindly trust again?”
And that was right. I didn’t really know anything about this guy other than I had met him at the parties of two people I greatly respected. But, I hadn’t even asked these two people if they knew him or knew anything about him.
What’s that all about?
It’s something we do as business owners when we want so badly to believe and we are looking for magic bullets and don’t want to face reality. You’ve heard it referred to before as self-sabotage, but maybe you didn’t really know what it looked like or couldn’t see it clearly in yourself. Sometimes an example helps.
And since this is really what my LIFT program is all about (because we all teach what we most need to learn ourselves), it was time to put my money where my mouth is and stop the self-sabotage. The only way I was going to do that is to stop being blind to what was right in front of me.
So instead of doing what I would normally do, I asked the hard questions.
I wrote him back and said:
“I’d like to talk to a couple people who can vouch that you guys are who you say you are and have the affiliate network. I like you personally and believe you totally know what you are talking about, but I’ve made too many mistakes in the past where I have not been willing to verify people were who they said they were and then only after I committed to work with them found out it wasn’t all as it had seemed. I 100% don’t believe that will happen in this case, but I’m all about doing business with your eyes open and not avoiding stuff because asking is hard (this is what my LIFT system teaches). So, to honor that, I’d really appreciate the names/numbers of a couple peeps I could call.”
I’ve gotta tell ya, it was really hard for me to send that email.
Inside, as I was writing it I felt so stupid and full of shame. Because it was hard for me to write it. Because I thought of all the times that I made investment decisions without asking for something so simple. Just because I did.
And yet this time, despite the feelings of shame and stupidity, I asked the hard questions anyway.
Within a few minutes, he had responded with a simple email giving me the names of two people to call. No drama. No hurt feelings.
As I thought about it afterward, I realized of course there was no drama. If there had been, I would have known that working with him was a big mistake right off the bat.
One of his references is a guy named Ian David Chapman, who I’ve seen here and there for some time. He’s a social media strategist and was kind enough to give me some of his time. And he didn’t just tell me about his experience, but he helped me make a good decision as to whether this was the right person for my needs at this time based on where I am in my business. He helped me to see a few things I wasn’t seeing.
Had I not been willing to ask the hard questions to begin with, I would have proceeded with this investment in the dark, like I have so many times in the past. Then, I would have not had the results I expected and gotten all victim-y and blame-y about it.
For now on, I’m going to do more asking of hard questions and I hope thanks to my example that you’ll be inspired to do the same next time.
I’d love to hear about the last time you asked the hard questions and it was helpful and/or the last time you didn’t and wished you had. Comment/discuss/share. I’ll respond.
Image courtesy of Flickr