Home > 15 Minutes > August 2011 > Ambivalent Obsession and Small Business Owners

Ambivalent Obsession and Small Business Owners

Posted by admin on January 15, 2013

Here’s another example of ambivalent obsession.  You know, when I was at the San Francisco International Gift Fair http://www.sfigf.com/Content/344.htm yesterday, I was talking with a vendor.  She asked me how I could help her from a consulting point of view.  One of the things I can say is: Did you know most business owners will allow their business fail rather than seek help?  And, they are less likely to seek help than somebody who is in emotional pain.  It makes sense.  But, it’s probably 5-10 fold of business failures.  A business owner might seek help in their personal life, which could actually help in terms of their business.  But, by a large margin, owners won’t seek help relative to a person seeking help. 

The other side I hear from owners who say they pay big bucks for a consultant/coach and it never worked.  And, the thing that comes up for me is ambivalent obsession, which I first heard from a TV critic reviewing The Killing on AMC: http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-killing.  The police officer who became too obsessive about her cases and she was about to transfer or retire from her work and get married.  As the case came up, she couldn’t leave it alone.  I think that’s how business owners can be.  They are ambivalent, not only about seeking help, but also ambivalent about their business.  They are ambivalent about their commitment to what they are doing, which is understandable.  It’s hard to totally commit and fully believe.  Part of the work is to commit.  Well, if it doesn’t work, “I can still go out and get a paid job”, they say to themselves.  I read about this in How to be a Successful Consultant in Your Own Field by Hubert Bermont.  Consultants can go get a regular paid job so that lack of commitment really can affect their business. 

This reminds me of a couple things.  Dr. Joe Parent of ZenGolf.com fame tells a story about bacon or eggs.  Someone asked the farmer for some help.  He begins to tell them about how bacon and eggs.  With this breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed.  The farmer said, “Do you want me to be involved or committed?

Don Hadlock (Processes.org) talks about finding a job that doesn’t sap your energy while you keep your dream job alive.   My second therapist talked about how a lack of commitment can impact one’s enjoyment in an activity or relationship.

So, these business owners are a are ambivalent about what they are doing; they are ambivalent about whether to seek help or not.  But then they obsess about it and may go over board on the consultant, rather than testing the waters a bit.  Maybe getting referrals and putting a toe in first makes sense.  (There is something to be said about going all in and I believe I have talked about that after reading Fire in the Belly by http://samkeen.com/.  Robert Thurmond, a mentor of Keen’s, said go all in with something like depression to the depths of the ocean rather than staying near the shore or be battered by the rocks.)  The Dalai Lama said: “Be careful who you trust”, from a spiritual point of view or anything for that matter, like a relationship.  Just, you know, do it smoothly, rather than obsessively.  So, that’s a little story about how I could describe it to clients.   I do hear: “I spent so much money and didn’t get anything.  Now, I am only going to pay someone a commission”.  Well, I think it’s a learning process when you’re working, both for the client and the consultant.  I have a habit of doing this: ambivalent obsessive.  I’ve been obsessive.  I was ambivalent about therapy and I went for 5-years.  Some might say that’s obsessive.  But at least I went week to week.  I couldn’t/wouldn’t quit.  I didn’t pay this huge amount up front (and didn’t pay while she was on holiday as she pointed out what happens with psycho-analysts clients) haha.  The process was enjoyable to me, I might add, but not always easy.  I did reach goals by the time it was completed, but not all of them.  The big one was I finally committed.  There also was a mindset that I change, not the other person.  It helps when there is some compatibly to start and along the way.   I was neurotically questioning whether I should stay.  That was part of the therapy.  I was questioning it rather than: “ Oh, I’m just going to do it”.  Some just drop $5,000 or more.  One client spent 4100,000 on a project that wasn’t making money.  Maybe that is what the credit card debt is about: ambivalent obsession.  I have my share of it.  Knowing this can go a little ways to helping deal with it. 

(As recorded on Aug 9th, 2011)

 

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