Cut the Bullshit Part Five: Apocalypse

I joked last week that I’d call the finale of this series “Apocalypse” and a wise and dear friend of mine reminded me the word comes from the Greek meaning “uncover, reveal.”

Funny how the revealing of truth came to mean the end of the world. This is how afraid we are as a species of losing the false aspects of our internal world. We equate it with outer mass destruction and mayhem rather than the liberation it is.

It’s not about the end of the world, it’s the end of the one you made up, the one that causes you needless suffering.

Would you like that world to end? Even if it’s a little painful and disorienting for a while? Are you willing to pay that price? I’m sorry it’s not a quick and easy fix. I wish it were, truly, and that is the subject of our finale. You’d like to solve business problems.

But you love the idea of quick fixes.

As practical, responsible adults with a lot to do, quick-fixes meet all our criteria for how we want life to work.

…how we want life to work.

That’s the bullshit. We think we know better than life about how it should work.

Have yourself a laugh here. Who appointed you general manager of the universe?

Sometimes there are quick-fixes, and it’s certainly a good idea to look. Patch the tire instead of replacing all four. Buy a mailing list instead of building one from scratch. Have an espresso instead of a nap.

When you want to solve business problems, or any problem for that matter, you’re constantly faced with choices to invest more resources into longer-term benefits, or less resources into shorter-term benefits. What we want, of course, is the ability to invest less and get the short- and the long-term benefits.

You know, getting to have the cake and eat it, too. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, does it?

So while the desire to do more with less is a necessary, true, and good perspective we can use as a tool (the basis of every efficiency and technology in the world), it’s easy to observe that we take it too far. Our fear and avoidance of discomfort hijack an otherwise pure love of economy and we become instant gratification junkies.

This is our world today, and it’s getting worse. I won’t make the case for it here. If you don’t already see this, you have a serious problem because it means you’re completely mired in it. But if you accept this observation, then here’s the next step:

When you want to solve business problems, filter all the insights, advice, tips, and wisdom you get through the lens of:

“What is the long-term, uncomfortable daily practice I can use to one day get the results I want, and how can I make the difficult process as enjoyable as possible?”

And:

“In what way will I need to change on the inside in order to get the outside result I’m looking for?”

Because that’s what the practice in the first question is going to confront you with.

To get what you want, you must change.

That’s how Life works, and it doesn’t appear give a shit what you think about it. Every time your quick-fix fails, Life has called bullshit on you.

So now you have a choice: surrender or suffer. Be mindful of where this shows up in your problem solving and how you ask questions and seek answers from the quick-fix mindset. You say things like:

“I can’t find good people.”

As if the good people are out there hiding from you, and finding them has nothing to do with the You you are that repels them, or your missing management and training skills, your inability to cultivate engagement, etc. You say:

“I need more sales.”

When you don’t even know that’s what you need. When your profit dynamics are so screwed up that increasing your volume would actually destroy your business (it happens every day), or you’re spending money irresponsibly to fill an emotional void that money never fills, or you don’t even know what your sales need to be because you’re too afraid to look at your financials because they remind you of ninth grade algebra. You say:

“I don’t have time.”

As if you’ve got any less time than anyone else, as if you could somehow gain more than twenty-four hours in a day, as if you’re not completely responsible for every single choice you make, as if you’re some hapless victim to how “busy” life is, as if the busyness is in Life Itself, and not in your chronically overwhelmed projection which will never change as long as you keep telling yourself that you don’t have time, which is never, ever true and perhaps the the most profound and epidemic statement of existential victimhood and contraction from Life there is.

We generally look for answers that come from this perspective:

“How can I get what I want without having to be the least bit uncomfortable or having to change at all?”

This perspective unconsciously filters your reality so that you literally only see and consider the quick-fix options to solve business problems. And marketers are happy to validate your question and sell you solutions that fit your distorted reality. It’s fine that they don’t ultimately work, because that creates repeat business like the candy and drug industries know so well.

So we try the quick fix, and when it doesn’t work, we try another. And another. And another. They often help a little, like sugar gives you a little energy for a while, and then you need more, like any drug. But there are side effects, too, and the effect doesn’t last. It’s not sustainable.

That list you bought increased sales, but the new customers weren’t really a good brand-fit, so there’s an increase in complaints and less repeat sales and referrals. That patch on your tire fails after six months and you waste half a day getting it redone. And now you need two shots of espresso in the morning just to think straight, and two more after lunch.

Solve Business Problems By Giving Up On Quick-Fixes

Eventually, the trail of quick-fixes implodes , and while this is sometimes a  painful, “hitting bottom,” it’s good news. The bottom is something you can push off of. It’s a place of power, because it’s realer than where you were before.

Perhaps we all must find for ourselves that the quick fixes, the ones that allow us to stay the same person, with the same world-view, without challenging our comfort, won’t work. It’s a beautiful process of surrender: surrendering to the fact that life doesn’t work the way we want it to, it works the way it works. This process brings us closer to reality, to life itself. Some people call that God.

And while many people say they want to know the truth, be closer to God, enlighten, self-actualize, whatever their version is (in the end they’re all the same), the truth is not heard in the words but seen in the actions.

In what way do you habitually argue with, contract from, or otherwise deny reality?

Find these things and undo them. Then see what happens.

It is far easier, of course, to follow catchy, well-marketed to-do lists, read books by successful people, or listen to inspiring talks than to look squarely in the mirror and ask yourself how you’re f—king your own life up.

Because you inevitably are.

It can take a lifetime to discover exactly how…so you might as well start now. What’s the first step? How do you do it?

You want eight easy steps to solve business problems? Haha. It doesn’t work that way. Read the article again. I gave you things to do. If you didn’t notice, you’re still under the quick-fix spell. Want help? That I can give you. Want to join a community of people working on the long-game? I got that, too.