Serious Business.

books May 20, 2021

“Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed.”

— Maya Angelou

I’ll never be invited to give a motivational speech at the American Academy of Audiology and no one wants me dropping in on their Facebook group, reminding them that 99.9% of the “sharing” and “space to be vulnerable” is really just a dopamine feedback loop, fueled by ego and a desire for recognition. 

I’m too pragmatic and serious for most people and that’s just fine by me. Also, the laws of the universe predict all of this. If 85% of audiologists and specialists were more serious about the serious stuff in their lives, we would see 85% of them retiring with more post-retirement income than they enjoyed while in practice. And yet, the statistic is inverted. Only 15% of today’s practicing audiologists will retire with a similar or better lifestyle than they enjoy now. 85% will have to live on less money in retirement each year than they enjoy now. 

What a shame. Predictable, but a shame nonetheless.

So, it’s no surprise to me that only the top 10-15% of practice owners seek what I teach, latch onto it, implement it faithfully in their lives and see tremendous results. They are the same 10-15% who come alive when they are serious about what they love. They know where they are headed and they accept the hard work and shouldered responsibility required in order to leave an inspiring legacy for their families and communities. 

Like Maya Angelou said, they accept responsibility for the time they take up and the space they occupy.

What a blessing to be shouldered with such tremendous responsibility, for it is during these times of awareness and acceptance of the tough road we are on that we feel most alive. None of this is easy. It is not nature’s law that the tallest and strongest oak tree in the forest has been sheltered from the wind and the rain and the scorching heat. No, it is the opposite and nature’s law, as Angelou reminds us, that it costs a tremendous amount to grow and to succeed. 

We grow because we’ve been exposed to the blistering sun, the raging winds, freezing cold and rain and through it all, we’ve resisted and stood strong in the responsibility that rests on our shoulders. Said more simply: we do hard things and we follow through on the promises we make to others and to ourselves. 

Everyone wants to play the piano. No one wants to practice.

“OK, that’s great Jared,” you might be thinking, “but how in the world do I take the serious stuff more seriously when I’m so darn busy and have so much on my plate?”

I’m glad you asked. Here’s a short list of my favorite ways to avoid being like every other practice owner in your niche and to embrace the serious business of serious business:

First, get to know yourself better. 

How do you behave when you’re angry, in love, when money is involved, when eating, writing, in trouble? How do you behave when triumphant, when downcast and defeated, when facing catastrophe, when trying to make a good impression on others, when informed of another’s misfortune, when informed of another’s good fortune, when losing in any game or sport, when winning at sport, when alone and in a meditative mood? Would you be proud of your behavior if it was printed in the newspapers tomorrow morning? You’ll never outperform your self image, so start here if you need to start anywhere.

Second, find something you love. 

People can sense when you are dedicated to something. You will attract the best people, solutions and opportunities into your life, like a powerful magnet, when you’re serious about what you love. Alternatively, like a magnet in reverse, you will repel these things when others sense they will have to bear the burden of being the answer to your dissatisfaction in life or to the poor results that have resulted due to your insecurity and indecision. When you go along for the ride, you look for some external locus of control, hoping someone or something else will provide the certainty you desperately seek in your life. When you pay careful attention to what feeds and sustains your passion in life, you acknowledge you already have everything you need to be happy and successful. 

Third, don’t chase false proxies. 

If quarterly results are important to you because you’re building a large empire that hinges on the ability to go public or sell to private equity above $100 million, that’s one thing. If quarterly results seem important because you really haven’t identified anything else you love and you haven’t taken the time to fully know yourself, letting a proxy like quarterly results dictate your mood or worth is a very dangerous thing. Ask me how I know. If you weren’t happy in life before you started chasing some proxy for success, you won’t magically be happy after you achieve it. Your lizard brain and ego will subconsciously up the ante and you’ll repeat the same frustrating cycle.

Finally, understand you cannot create or experience some result on the outside that you have not already committed to being on the inside. 

I’ve tried every way around this uncomfortable truth and you shouldn’t be surprised none of them worked. If you want to be a better leader, start with the person staring you back in the mirror. Your parents or guardians told you “no” when you were a child. Who tells you “no” today? 

If you want to be a better friend, spouse, parent, sibling or neighbor, start loving everyone in your life for who they are and stop hating them for what they are not. If you want to be a success in business, stop making excuses for why it’s so difficult or why everyone else has it easier than you and instead start taking full responsibility for the time and space you occupy. 

It is one of the most difficult things on the planet to attempt and fail; to pick yourself back up and succeed in a competitive landscape; delivering value, creating relationships and doing it all with dignity and respect. 

It’s thrilling and heartbreaking and challenging beyond belief. 

And, that’s why it’s so much fun. 

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