Whether we’re buying or selling, we have a choice as to how we do business. But, all too often, we attempt to manipulate our transactions through
At a recent networking event, a financial advisor invited me to meet up afterwards so he could ‘get to know me’ over a coffee. We learn the codes as we go through life and, sure enough, the obviously inauthentic veneer of personal interest rapidly evaporated. When a financial advisor you have just met wants to ‘get to know you’, it’s usually for the sole purpose of picking through the intimate financial details of your life so you end up buying some sort of ‘safety net’. It’s a bit like when someone urges you to attend a meeting about an unspecified ‘business opportunity’; you’re being primed for an MLM scheme or an NMN (network marketing nightmare). Once he’d established that I was a caring family man, he started, with a broad smile on his face, to pile on the fear and the guilt. You have to plan. What’s going to happen in ten years’ time? You could get ill. How will your wife survive? You owe it to…’ And so on. All designed to put a knot in my stomach and prompt me to sign a good proportion of my income away. It didn’t feel good.
Fear – the easy choice
We all get indoctrinated into fear-based decision-making in our early years, and it goes downhill from there, pervading our entire lives. It’s the instinctive reaction of:
- busy parents who are trying to keep things running smoothly
- teachers struggling to manage unfocused minds
- people trying to deal with difficult relationships
- employers keen to increase profits
- companies desperate to get customers
- religious leaders who want to ‘save souls’ and fund operations
- politicians who want to hold on to power
And even though we popularly believe, with the advent of social media and our modern-day connectivity, that we’re in control, we see the same methods being used time and again. It’s become a science. Identify the pain, emphasize the agony of getting it wrong, present a ‘solution’, mix in a string of testimonials, hound prospects who ‘expressed an interest’ with emails and offer a ‘life-saving deal’. Does this make anyone feel good?
Creativity – the refreshing option that works better anyway
The philosopher Ivan Illich famously said that “school is the advertising agency that makes you believe that you need society as it is”. You don’t. There are always different ways to look at everything. It’s usually just easier to go along with the collective belief and not think about it. But when you do set aside those things you ‘know to be true’, really examine them and exercise your creative powers, great things can happen. Beliefs are, after all, just that. Many of them are born out of fear. If you create new neural pathways and connect disparate bits of information in new ways, new thoughts emerge that ultimately translate into new things. That’s exciting.
It’s called progress
It’s also inspiring. And we are naturally attracted to it and compelled by it. Unlike the fear-based approach that leaves us with either a bad feeling or reluctant acceptance, creative solutions:
- inspire interest and engagement
- cultivate brand loyalty
- in management, build and sustain strong teams
- ensure evolution to keep you ahead of the game
- bring fresh opportunities to old markets and bring back lost customers
- re-ignite passion that may have been stifled by routine or problems
- stimulate better performance in employees
- exercise minds, keep people young and build strong character
- are the best insurance against irrelevance and failure
In short, creativity leads to innovation, and that is the way to ensure success, sustainability and really great relationships. Additionally, if you innovate, you don’t have to compete with what is already out there. So it’s enormously empowering as well. I invite you to look at the companies that you admire most in the world and ask yourself if they employ fear-based tactics or creative tactics. They don’t necessarily need to be the most famous, successful organizations in the world (they could be local retailers, an NGO, a school etc), but I bet many of them are.
Expansive minds lead to expansive organizations
Staying in fear—whether we are giving or receiving it—is not expansive. It’s defensive. And therein lies the nub of the problem. If you are coming from a place of fear, you cannot be in a state of service to mankind. As any good salesman will tell you, if your focus is on getting rather than giving, you will repel more customers than you will gain. But you can’t be in a state of ‘giving to get’, either. That was my financial advisor’s problem. As soon as he felt he had ‘got to know me’ enough, and sensing his approach had failed miserably, out came the glossy brochure. Photoshop-perfect grey-haired couples walking in the sunshine in sensible shoes, cutting lawns and making tea, presented a nightmare precursor to a satin-lined coffin. The carefully simplified graphs and alarmist data flashed before my eyes as I ushered him away from my table. I was done with consuming his projected fear.
I went back to my art studio and started again. A fresh canvas, endless possibilities, something new and vibrant was about to happen. It was challenging, exciting. I felt alive again. That’s the difference I invite you to feel. The next time you get that knot of fear, step away from it and get into creative mode. It can be something simple like a walk or a bike ride, doodling or baking a cake. Fear is always obliterated when we truly give ourselves to the creative process and let magic happen.