Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Does this really need to be said?

This is going to sound like a shaggy dog story, but ber with me - there is a point.

A friend of mine, Heather,  told me the following story:

"I'm a small time landlord, and recently rented one of my apartments to a single mom, a nice lady with two young girls. The woman was getting out of what sounded like an abusive marriage, and in a real hurry to sign a lease before she left the country briefly to care for her ailing grandmother. She was REALLY not looking forward to this -- she grew up here, didn't know her grandmother all that well, and hates being in Fiji, her grandmother's country.  She was the best family member to go, though, because she makes her living caring for the elderly.

"She signed a 1 year lease, gave me a deposit, and we made plans for her to move in just after the first of the month. This would give me a couple of days to clean up the place in case the last tenant didn't do a great job.

"Four days before she was supposed to move in, she called from Fiji, and reached me on my cell phone. The number was blocked. I was in the car on the way to a MeetUp, but my friend, Jack, was driving, so I took the call. My tenant said, "My grandmother died, and I'm stuck here healing with cultural issues." Wow! I was shocked, and said I was sorry. Then she said, "I don't know if I'll be back in 2 weeks or 2 months. Can I get out of the lease? What do I do?"

"I told her calmly, but firmly, that she had signed a lease, and I was not about to let her out of it. That she was responsible for the $10,000 amount of the lease. That the law is that I'm required to make reasonable efforts to find another tenant, but that she is responsible for any deficiency. That is, if it's vacant for a month, she owes me a month's rent. And that I'll take her to small claims court to collect whatever she owes me, as soon as I know the amount of my damages."

"She said she understood, and would call me back in a few days to let me know if she could borrow enough money from a family member to keep the lease. I said I understood, and would look forward to her next call. Of course, she never called back.

"That was bad enough. Then I heard through a mutual friend that Jack was telling people that I dealt with this all wrong. That I should have just expressed my condolences and put off a serious discussion for another time. Never mind that he didn't know the situation, that he didn't hear her side of the conversation, that he didn't know the phone number was blocked, so I had no way to reach her, that he's never been a landlord, that he didn't know the law, and that I really need the money.

"So now, I'm not only out a tenant, but my reputation is being ruined by an ignorant jerk, who apparently knows better than I do what to do in my situation -- and is happy to tell anyone who will listen. And who is so cowardly as to not tell me this to my face. By the way, I tried to approach him to talk about it, but he has excuse after excuse as to why he 'can't' get together. What can I do?"

If he won't meet with you, there's not a lot you can do, except to realize that there are ignorant, cowardly jerks everywhere, and to let it roll off your back. You did the best you could. As my grandmother would have said, "Don't dignify that with an answer." Focus your attention on more positive things -- and let this go.

I think the lesson here is more about not being in Jack's position. How do you avoid that? In the words of Craig Ferguson (yes, the guy from the Late Late Show -- he's a very perceptive guy, not just a funny one), ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me now?
And if the answer to any of those questions is "no",  keep your mouth shut.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to keep showing up!

In the fall of my second year in business school, my friend, Candy, who'd just completed a summer job and been offered a full time post by that company for after graduation, had to go to a company recruiting cocktail party on top of studying for mid-term exams. Trying to put myself in her shoes, I sympathized with her time crunch, as well as the stress I thought this would bring (or it would have brought for me).

Candy looked at me with a wry smile, and laughed softly, "Oh, no, this isn't stressful! All I have to do is show up. I'm good at showing up!" She continued, "I'll get brownie points for showing up. That's  really all I have to do --  show up and say 'hi' to a few people I know, so that they know I'm there, as part of the team. I don't have to impress anyone -- they've already offered me the job. I don't even have to talk to the recruiters much; they're more interested in prospects they don't know."

This idea that sometimes, all you have to do is show up, stuck with me. Or as Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

I'm reminded to mention this now, because I personally have a lot to show up for at the moment. In fact, it seems never ending -- the weekly radio show, the clients, my other businesses which seem to constantly need something, let alone friends and family. (Did I mention taking the barest of acquaintances in for surgery last week because he had no one else?)

I'm actually really good at showing up. I know not everyone is, though, and I think that's mostly caused by lack of motivation. So how do you maintain your motivation?
  • Keep reminding yourself of the big picture -- when you see how a tiny action can really help with the big goals of your life, you'll keep on showing up for the little stuff. 
  • Remember that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", as Lao-Tzu said. Yes, you have to take a lot of those single steps, but only one is the first one, and the 'showing up' ones are pretty easy.
  • Ask yourself, "How much effort is this really? How can I systematize this so that I can do it with almost no effort?" For example, if you're a coffee drinker, you have surely devised a system to make coffee so efficiently that you barely notice making it any more. You can do that with many things in life.
  • Try to find the fun -- or something positive -- in showing up.
Last week, I had a computer nightmare (believe me, you don't want to know the details!). Showing up to deal with it sucked. But the big picture is that I need that computer to run my businesses, and to do the radio show. The first step was to try to do the updates I needed by myself, using all the online help available in forums. When that wasn't enough, I called Apple for help. When that wasn't enough, the online help desk made me an appointment at the local Apple Store for help. When they couldn't solve my problem, they sent me to an outside company who is one of Apple's premium service sites.

There, I met the owner, who is not only the most competent Mac person I've ever met (he almost solved my problem completely, and told me how to do the rest myself), but also turned out to be interested in a lot of things I'm interested in that have nothing to do with computers -- star visitors, the unfairness of our current economic system, angels, the effects of vibrations, etc. We had a fascinating conversation that went on long past the completion of my computer issues. Meeting this man turned out to be the 'something positive' in showing up.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Is it psychic? Or just experience?

Intuition/psychic ability and experience form a spectrum of knowledge, and it's not always possible to tell where one begins and the other ends. Here's what I mean:

There's an old story about a factory owner, whose very complicated, very expensive piece of machinery stopped working. This machine was essential to his manufacturing, so he couldn't let it stay idle for long. So he called a crusty, old repairman,  who arrived with his ancient tool kit. He looked at the machine for a few minutes, opened his kit, took out a wrench, and tapped a pipe 3 times. Then he presented the factory owner with a bill for $1000.

The factory owner was furious. He said to the repairman, "You've only been here 5 minutes. All you did is tap 3 times on a pipe. How can that cost $1000? I want an itemized bill."

The repairman wrote out a new bill, which looked like this:
  • Tapping on pipe                       $  15
  • Knowing where to tap              $985
 The joke obviously revolves around the value of experience.

At the extreme other end of the spectrum, there is knowledge that can only be gained psychically. For example, 25 years ago, when I was first starting to do psychic readings, I volunteered to do readings for a small women's group, to whom I'd been referred by a mutual acquaintance. I eventually became friends with a couple of the women. Last year, one of them told me that she knew right away that I was for real because I told her something she'd done that she had done by herself, and never told anyone. So clearly that was psychic info.

Sometimes it's not so clear. Last November, another acquaintance approached me about joining a network marketing group he had joined, saying that in 5 months, he was already making a ton of money on his tiny investment. The company was Zeek Rewards, in which he bought penny auction bids and gave them away via an automated process arranged by the company. He said he was making "1.4% average a day or 42% a month and it compounds" in just a few minutes a day. This man has proven himself trustworthy over the years, so I believed him.

But I'm not into network marketing (some of the products don't work, all are overpriced, and even if the products work, the commission set up has to be good enough to make money.) I have never made money on any network marketing. It's fine for other people, just not for me. I ignored his email.

I ran into him in early July, and he extolled the virtues of this particular network marketing company, telling me I was missing out on a good thing, taht he was still making money, exactly as he'd told me. Something in me said, "Ponzi scheme". Not only did I not go for it, I told him to take his money out ASAP, before he couldn't get it out at all. Honestly, I can't tell you if it was a feeling (clairsentience) or a voice in my head (clairaudience or telepathy).

Here's the funny thing: I was right.

So was it psychic knowledge? Or was it just that I've been around businesses for a long time, and I know a scam when I hear one? I honestly don't know -- and that's the point. Experience and psychic knowledge go hand in hand -- and maybe that combination is what people call 'intuition'.